Snowbirds put airshow season on pause

AvatarBy Skies Magazine | May 15, 2017

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 29 seconds.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are pausing their air performance season to undertake additional practice and training from their home base at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask.

The Snowbirds fly in formation with mountains in the background
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are returning to their home base in Moose Jaw, Sask., for additional practice sessions after weather affected their annual spring training schedule in Comox, B.C. Mike Reyno Photo

Canada’s famous and revered aerobatic team made the announcement on its Facebook page on Monday evening, on the heels of a performance in Memphis, Tenn.

“A reduced training period hampered by poor weather which continued into the show season, resulted in numerous cancelled practices,” said Maj Patrick Gobeil, Snowbirds Team Lead, in the Facebook post.

“As a result, more training is required before the Snowbirds resume the 2017 schedule.”

The Snowbirds said they have cancelled their participation in some upcoming airshows.

Earlier on Monday, the website AirShowStuff reported the Snowbirds had suddenly cancelled three upcoming airshow performances.

The shows included stops in Rochester, N.Y.; North Kingstown, R.I.; and Fort Erie, Ont.

Niagara This Week, an Ontario newspaper, also reported the Snowbirds cancelled a May 24 show in Fort Erie.

Airshow YQG, scheduled for May 27 and 28 in Windsor, Ont., was cancelled entirely after the Snowbirds pulled out, according to media reports.

“We understand the decision,” said Airshow YQG director Paul McCann in an interview with the CBC. “Safety is paramount. When these things happen–although they’re disappointing–we understand and we support the decision and believe it’s the right one to make.”

The Windsor appearance was listed as a non-aerobatic performance in the Snowbirds’ official schedule.

While the Snowbirds said they have had several well-executed shows and practices early in the season, poor weather during annual spring training exercises in Comox, B.C., affected the training schedule.

Sources tell Skies an earlier-than-usual performance with La Patrouille de France in Gatineau, Que., in April further shortened the training schedule.

In the Facebook post, the Snowbirds said they intend to return to the airshow circuit once they have “the consistency required for our dynamic nine-aircraft aerobatic performance.”

During spring training exercises earlier this year, Gobeil told Skies the team is anywhere between 70 and 80 per cent ready for airshow season by the time it reaches Comox.

“That last 25 to 30 per cent is exponential, and it’s really where the show comes together,” he said at the time.

Both the Snowbirds and CF-18 Demonstration Team typically complete about 20 missions during spring training; this year, they only completed 13. Weather this year was a complicating factor, with the typical blue sky and light winds in Comox often replaced with low clouds and wind warnings.

The Snowbirds concluded their announcement on Monday by thanking airshow organizers for their understanding, and “all our fans for their continued encouraging messages.”

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1 Comment

  1. To all that are so disappointed with the C F Snowbirds cancelling a performance in their municipality, I would like to invite all to come to the Hanover Saugeen Municipal Airport for our free C F SNOWBIRDS CELEBRATE THE BRUCE 150TH air show. Aside from the C F Snowbirds we have other performing acts, static displays, helicopter and jet rides as well. For further information go to

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