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Snowbirds fly over New Brunswick, Nova Scotia as kickoff to national tour to boost morale

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Snowbirds open ‘Operation Inspiration’ national tour with flyover in New Brunswick' Coronavirus outbreak: Snowbirds open ‘Operation Inspiration’ national tour with flyover in New Brunswick
The Snowbirds aerobatics squadron flew over Fredericton and Saint John, N.B. on Sunday.

The sound of the Canadian Armed Forces flight demonstration team — the Snowbirds — on Sunday in Saint John brought a lot of memories to Nancy Craig, who grew up at Canadian Forces Base in Greenwood, N.S.

“It was short but sweet and kind of emotional for me. My dad was in the air force … so this is all very familiar and he would have loved that,” said Craig.

“This was very special and I’m so glad they’re doing it.

“It’s going to mean a lot for a lot of people.”

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Battle of the Atlantic commemorations held online as Canada mourns

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

The Snowbirds military aerobatics team has planned to conduct a series of flyovers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Sunday as part of its cross-country tour, which is aimed at boosting morale as Canadians continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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It’s been called “Operation Inspiration”.

“It’s something a lot of people identify with and it’s something we can all do together — even though we can’t see it all together at the same time — it is still something we can experience together,” said Craig, who was able to watch the demonstration with fellow Saint John residents at 10:40 a.m. AT.

Click to play video 'Veterans mark helicopter crash at CFB Shearwater' Veterans mark helicopter crash at CFB Shearwater
Veterans mark helicopter crash at CFB Shearwater

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The Saint John display was followed by an 11 a.m. AT flight over Fredericton.

The aerobatics team wrapped 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 made a final pass over Halifax at 3 p.m. AT.

A man watches the Snowbirds as the complete a flyover of the Halifax Common on May 3, 2020.
A man watches the Snowbirds as the complete a flyover of the Halifax Common on May 3, 2020. Alexander Quon/Global News

For Nova Scotians, the flyover was aimed at honouring the victims of the helicopter crash and mass shooting.

On April 18 and 19, 22 people were killed by a gunman in and around the area of Portapique, N.S.

Nova Scotia also suffered a recent tragedy when on April 29 reports emerged that a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter deployed onboard HMCS Fredericton had crashed off the coast of Greece.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Snowbirds conduct flyover in Nova Scotia to pay tribute to shooting victims, Canadians battling COVID-19' Coronavirus outbreak: Snowbirds conduct flyover in Nova Scotia to pay tribute to shooting victims, Canadians battling COVID-19
Coronavirus outbreak: Snowbirds conduct flyover in Nova Scotia to pay tribute to shooting victims, Canadians battling COVID-19

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

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

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

One of the pilots who flew over New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is captain Scott Boyd, who said that he had friends that were involved with the helicopter accident, so this flyover felt very special for him.

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“It’s pretty incredible. … I have a lot of friends and family that are living in Nova Scotia, so I know what the community has been through,” said Boyd, who’s from Vancouver.

“It’s really important for me to be able to get out here and try to bring a little bit of joy and a little bit of sunshine to the grey skies that have been in Nova Scotia the last little while.”

He said the plan right now is for the snowbirds to go to Newfoundland and Labrador, and then they’ll continue to go west throughout the week.

“The way that Canadians kind of pulled together through this entire last couple of months, it’s just been a testament to what we’re all about. And I think we can just keep working hard and we’ll get through this as one strong country,” Boyd said.

–With files from Alexander Quon