Second woman pilot in Snowbird history hopes to inspire others

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WATCH: The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are an iconic sight in the sky, but new to the squad this season is the second female pilot in the team's four-decade history. Teri Fikowski introduces us to Capt. Sarah Dallaire, who's proving the sky is the limit – Aug 5, 2018

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are an iconic sight in the sky but perhaps most impressive in their 48th season is the addition of the second female pilot in the team’s roughly four-decade history.

Capt. Sarah Dallaire is the second woman pilot on the squad since the Snowbirds first took flight in 1978.

“I think that every flight there is always a millisecond where I’m like, ‘I’m stepping into a snowbird jet right now to do my job,’” she says.

“I tend to have that little moment that it sinks in. It’s an amazing feeling and that makes you want to work hard and keep working hard for the team and yourself.”

The Quebec native’s passion for flying started quite young. Both of her parents were pilots who often took her to air shows.

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She was later inspired to explore the aviation industry by the first woman Snowbird who later become commander of the squad.

“I saw Maryse Carmichael when I was 12-years-old and that put a flame in my heart that I wanted to follow for the rest of my teenage years.”

Captain Sarah Dallaire (left) & Maryse Carmichael (right) share a photograph on Dallaire’s selection day to become a Canadian Snowbird. Captain Sarah Dallaire

Dallaire joined the armed forces in 2007, earned her wings in 2012, and was deployed overseas for two years before being selected to try out with the Snowbirds.

Lt.-Col. Michael French is the team lead and explains that even being invited to try out is an honour all in its own.

“It’s definitely the Olympics of flying, but we’re used to be tested all away a long,” he explained. “You put yourself against your peers knowing full-well only half of you are going to make the team.”

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Dallaire may be the smallest member of the team but according to French, she’s as tough as the maneuvers she handles.

“Yes, she’s a trailblazer, yes she’s pioneer and role model for women everywhere but she didn’t make this team because she’s a woman. She made this team because she’s a darn good pilot.”

The rigors of twice a day training for six months, followed by back-to-back airshows for another six takes its toll both physically and mentally, but Dallaire considers every day a gift.

She hopes her story will empower others to never lose sight of their own dreams, no matter how difficult they may seem to achieve.

“It’s all about determination,” she says. “I had a rough road to get here it’s not always easy but with perseverance, determination and working hard, {they} will get there for sure.”

The Canadian Snowbirds will perform at airshows across North America over the summer before wrapping up the season in October at home at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

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