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Comox Valley airspace to close regularly for Snowbirds practice

COMOX, B.C- Comox Valley residents should keep an eye on the sky in April.

With the arrival of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds at 19 Wing Comox this week, the team will be going through regular training flights over the Valley until April 25. They’re joined this year by the CF-18 demo team.

According to Capt. Blake McNaughton, Snowbird 10, the team is happy to be back on Vancouver Island.

“It’s always great to be back in Comox,” said McNaughton.

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“We love coming here every year, it’s a bit of a gem in Canada. 19 Wing treats us fantastic, the community of Comox and the Valley treats us fantastic, and it really, really works for what we need to get done.”

While a regular schedule of training flights isn’t released to the public, notices to aviation authorities in the area (known as NOTAMs) are filed on a regular basis to keep the local airspace clear for training. The schedules are filed with Nav Canada and published in the mid morning to early afternoon all week.

“Those are the windows where we’ve sanitized the airspace,” said McNaughton.

“They’re fairly predictable, though they move a little bit throughout the week and the weekend, but if we get delayed in the morning or weather, we may negotiate a different time with air traffic control.”

According to the last published notice, the CF-18 demonstrations will be conducted in the early to late evening from Monday to Saturday, with a slight adjustment on Sunday to the same times.

The Snowbirds will be flying in the early morning Monday to Friday, with another flight in the early afternoon. On Saturday and Sunday, the flights will take place in the early morning and early afternoon.

The times are always subject to change, depending on the weather.

“There could be any number of reasons why we don’t fly, and that’s why we don’t advertise these as shows,” said McNaughton.

“We really are putting the pieces of our shows together, both from the narration and music, aerobatic maneuvers, we’re piecing those together and putting a polish on them before we present them to the public.

McNaughton did encourage anyone who wanted to watch to look up while the team is in the Valley.

“If you’ve never seen the Snowbirds, or if you’ve seen the Snowbirds every single year they’ve come to Comox, you’re still going to see something different in 2018,” said McNaughton.

“There’s no reason that someone shouldn’t stop and look up from time to time, and give us a wave. If you wave, maybe we’ll wave back!”

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