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The Canadian Forces Snowbirds made a surprise announcement on April 29, saying the team will be launching a cross-Canada tour — part of a “unique mission” being called Operation Inspiration.
In a statement to the press, the Department of National Defence said the team will cross the country to “salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19.” The tour is set to begin in Nova Scotia over the coming weekend, and will see the team’s signature nine-jet formation fly over cities with trailing white smoke as they work westwards across the country.
Locations, routes and times will be revealed on the team’s social media accounts each day and flyovers will be conducted at an elevation no lower than 500 feet above obstacles.
“We’ve been asked to do what we do best… inspire Canadians. Through Operation Inspiration, we not only want to salute the front-line health care workers, first responders, and essential workers, but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We want Canadians to know we’re in this with you,” said LCol Mike French, commanding officer of the Snowbirds.
In light of the current pandemic, the team will be restricting any interactions with anyone outside the team during the tour, and will be practicing recommended hand-washing and wearing personal protective equipment while travelling.
“Every year, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds travel the country putting smiles on the faces of Canadians. While Canadians may not be able to gather at airshows for now, we’re honoured to bring the Snowbirds team to Canadians and to pay special tribute to them,” said LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“The iconic Snowbirds have a special place in the hearts of many Canadians. We hope that their presence over Canadian cities and towns to acknowledge the hard work being done by Canadians in our grocery stores, our pharmacies, our hospitals and long-term care facilities lift up Canadians during these difficult times,” added national defence minister Harjit S. Sajjan.
The Snowbirds paused operations on March 20 to support social distancing by staying at home, and have been grounded until now.
As such, the team said it will be spending two days at its home base of 15 Wing Moose Jaw to fly refresher and proficiency training before embarking on the tour.