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Off The Page podcast: Snowbirds talk spring training in Comox

Preview of spring training in the Valley from April 19 to May 11
The CF Snowbirds in action. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Like so many things affected by the pandemic, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds had to take a break from airshow performances in 2020, but are set to return to the Comox Valley from April 19 to May 11 for their annual spring training.

Capt. Gabriel Ferris, the team’s public affairs officer, explains on the latest edition of the Record’s Off The Page podcast how the transition back to performing last year was a bit different, but is hoping for a great season ahead.

“There were a lot of drive-in shows we couldn’t go in and meet the crowds. So the show itself, the show season was a little bit weird. We’re happy this year things are starting to feel back to normal a little bit,” he says on the podcast.

The 2022 show season has already had to be changed slightly, with the cancellation of a handful of shows in the United States to start the show season. Ferris says the combination of bad winter weather and ice on the runways in Moose Jaw (home of the Snowbirds) brought the squadron to a readiness level that wasn’t high enough for the team start the season in the U.S.

“When we get to Comox, usually the show is almost already done, and we just make sure everything is Spic and Span for the Comox Valley people; they only see the best shows all the time non-stop,” he notes. “We assessed a couple of weeks ago and realized that sadly we’re not going to be ready to be able to put up a good show for the population for May when we come back from Comox. So we’ll just push everything to the right, cancel the first swing and start with the first Canadian show, which is going to be in mid-June.”

Ferris adds that those watching spring training this year may have to change their expectations of the team from previous years, as they will be working on the actual construction of the show and how the individual manoeuvres fit together. He warns it may not result in what regularly appears to be one fluid show.

“You might see the same manoeuvre repeated three or four times in a row. When we’re putting up a manoeuvre, we actually start it a good distance between each jet and as we practise it, we get tighter and tighter until we are up to four to six feet apart from wing to wing. But we don’t fly that manoeuvre the first shot at four feet apart - that would be a lot - that would be scary for anyone doing it, even for us. So we need to get up to that level of training of practice. Basically, that’s what people will be seeing in Comox.”

As for Ferris’s favourite show location? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out.

To listen to the full episode, download Off The Page on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and everywhere podcasts are heard, or visit New episodes of Off The Page drop every Wednesday.

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