Canadian Forces Snowbirds ready to dazzle Kelowna this weekend

Click to play video: 'Canadian Forces Snowbirds return to Kelowna after eight years'
Canadian Forces Snowbirds return to Kelowna after eight years
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds make their return to Kelowna for the first time since 2014, and this time they're here to mark a very special milestone for the city. Victoria Femia has a behind-the-scenes look as they prepare for their two-day show in Kelowna – Jul 8, 2022

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Kelowna International Airport has brought in the Canadian Forces Snowbirds for two performances this weekend.

“This is exactly the type of thing we want to bring the community in, to our celebration for this anniversary,” said Geoff Ritchie, YLW senior manager of airport developments.

This weekend will be the first time since 2014 that the Snowbirds dazzled a Kelowna crowd with their aeronautic acrobatics. Given the team’s major popularity status in North America, booking the Snowbirds didn’t come easy.

“Everybody wants the snowbirds to perform, so there are limited opportunities,” said Ritchie.

“We were lucky to get in early and be able to have this. And, quite honestly, they enjoy being here in Kelowna also, so it’s a perfect match for both of us.”

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The Okanagan’s complex terrain offers a more challenging scenery for the pilots to fly, though.

“It’s a little bit more technical, actually – it’s a valley, so there are mountains on one side and mountains on the other side,” said Capt. Gabriel Ferris, Snowbirds public relations officer.

“The pilots, when they fly their show, they have to dive in the valley to be able to maneuver and stuff like that. So it adds an increased difficulty for the pilots.”

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A Snowbirds performance can take time to create, and pilots and crews say they’ve been training for this weekend’s show for more than eight months.

Click to play video: 'Snowbirds in Kelowna, hit the skies for Friday practice'
Snowbirds in Kelowna, hit the skies for Friday practice

Saturday and Sunday’s shows will begin at 1 p.m., and last around 45 minutes each. During that time, seven planes will be performing.

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“We’re just excited to be a part of such a special occasion for Kelowna,” said Dominic Appolloni, Snowbirds outer left wing.

“We don’t normally get to hit such a big landmark for every airport, so we have such a special connection to the Okanagan region and we’re excited to share that with the city.”

The Snowbirds’ return to the Central Okanagan is also a way for the team to honour Capt. Jenn Casey, a public affairs officer for the team who was killed in a crash following a performance in Kamloops two years ago.

Click to play video: 'Kamloops grieving following Snowbirds crash on Sunday'
Kamloops grieving following Snowbirds crash on Sunday

“It’s actually important to be in Kelowna,” said Ferris. “It’s kind of close to Kamloops as well, and, with the event that happened two years ago, we have people coming from Kamloops as well.

“So, it is special for our team in this region. Being here for the 75th anniversary, it’s a candy on the top.”

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The Snowbirds air demonstration is the first of many events happening to kick off the airport’s 75th anniversary.

The CF Snowbirds demonstration will take place over Okanagan Lake, north of the William R. Bennett Bridge. The best place to watch will be along the waterfront, from City Park to Waterfront Park.

Following the Snowbirds’ demonstration on Saturday, there will be a Wings n’ Wheels event at the new KF Centre for Excellence — along Airport Way, at 5800 Lapointe Drive —  from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

YLW also has a number of celebrations planned for the rest of the year, which can all be found on the airport’s website.

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