Snowbirds aerobatic team returning to Vancouver Island for training

Snowbirds return to BC

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are returning to Vancouver Island to begin training for their 2023 airshow season.

The aerobatics flying team will leave their home base in Moose Jaw, Sask., for a month-long training period at Comox from April 18 to May 12. It’s an annual ritual for the pilots and their aircraft to practise over different terrain.

Starting in May until mid-October each year, the team travels across North America performing at air shows. Throughout the season, the Snowbirds return to their home base in Moose Jaw about four times to perform maintenance on the aircraft.

In a Facebook post, the Snowbirds said they would post a training schedule for its time on the Island soon.

Officially known as the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds comprise 80 Canadian Forces personnel, including 11 pilots. Typically, the tour of duty for pilots is three years each. Every year, one-third of the pilots change.

The Snowbirds fly the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, a Canadian-built jet that was used by the Canadian Forces as a basic pilot-training aircraft from 1963 until 2000. The Tutor weighs 7,170 pounds and is powered by a J-85 engine that can produce 2,700 pounds of thrust.

The aerobatics team starts its season in Thunder Bay, Ont., on June 3. So far, they are booked for 23 shows — the only B.C. date at the moment is Abbotsford from Aug. 11 to 13.

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