Snowbirds launch national tour in the Maritimes on Sunday to honour helicopter crash, shooting victims

Snowbirds taking to the sky on cross-Canada tour
WATCH: Snowbirds taking to the sky on cross-Canada tour (April 30)

The Snowbirds military aerobatics team will begin its cross-country tour on Sunday as the team conducts a series of flyovers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces flight demonstration team on Wednesday, aimed at boosting morale as Canadians continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day will begin with the Snowbirds leaving CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia at 10:30 a.m. AT, before heading to Saint John for a 10:40 a.m. AT flyover followed by an 11:00 a.m. AT flight over Fredericton.

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The aerobatics team will wrap up the day in Nova Scotia, leaving CFB Greenwood at 2:30 p.m. AT and flying over the Portapique-area and Truro at approximately 2:50 p.m. AT.

The Snowbirds will make a final pass over Halifax at 3 p.m. AT.

All times are subject to weather conditions.

READ MORE: Snowbirds to boost morale amid COVID-19 with cross country tour

For Nova Scotians, the flyover will honour those who died in a pair of tragedies that have hit close to home over the last month.

Over the course of 13 hours on April 18 and April 19,  22 people were killed by a gunman in and around the area of Portapique, N.S.

N.S. shooting victim’s sister opens up about grieving, forgiveness
N.S. shooting victim’s sister opens up about grieving, forgiveness

The dead include:

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  • Const. Heidi Stevenson
  • Lisa McCully
  • Heather O’Brien
  • Kristen Beaton
  • Sean McLeod
  • Alanna Jenkins
  • Greg Blair
  • Jamie Blair
  • Jolene Oliver
  • Aaron Tuck
  • Emily Tuck
  • Dawn Madsen
  • Frank Gulenchyn
  • Gina Goulet
  • Corrie Ellison
  • Tom Bagley
  • Joey Webber
  • Lillian Hyslop
  • Peter Bond
  • Joy Bond
  • Elizabeth Thomas
  • John Zahl

It is now the country’s worst-ever mass shooting.

READ MORE: Here’s what we know about the victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting

Then on Wednesday evening reports emerged that a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter deployed onboard HMCS Fredericton had crashed off the coast of Greece.

The Halifax-class frigate is part of Operation Reassurance.

Six members of the Canadian Armed Forces were on board the helicopter when it crashed.

The search and rescue mission has now transitioned into a recovery mission.

Missing members aboard crashed helicopter presumed dead: DND
Missing members aboard crashed helicopter presumed dead: DND

As of Friday, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough of Nova Scotia was the only one confirmed to be dead.

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The five other members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially considered missing and presumed dead.

Those who remain missing include:

  • Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, a pilot, originally from New Glasgow, N.S.
  • Capt. Kevin Hagen, a pilot, originally from Nanaimo, B.C.
  • Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, an air combat systems officer, originally from Trois-Rivières, Que.
  • Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, a naval weapons officer, originally from Truro, N.S.
  • Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, an airborne electronic sensor operator, originally from Guelph, Ont.

READ MORE: Missing members aboard crashed Canadian military helicopter presumed dead

The Snowbird’s cross-country tour follows a similar one in the U.S., where the American military’s own flight demonstration teams have been flying over cities in honour of frontline workers and first responders.

Members of the Snowbirds paused their training in March because of COVID-19 but have spent the past two days at their home base in Saskatchewan flying refresher and training missions before starting the tour.