It is not often that you find yourself hurtling over the ground with other great pilots in an acrobatic display of aircraft.
But for Capt. Logan Reid of the Canadian Snowbirds, it’s a privilege to fly with skilled pilots in shows across North America.
“The speed’s pretty cool. We have some pretty awesome manoeuvres and we do them pretty low and fast to the ground,” explained Reid. “It’s unlike any other kind of flying and it’s a really privileged job particularly in the military to be able to represent the Canadian Forces.”
He adds travelling 300 feet off the ground at over 1,000 km/h close to other aircraft is very thrilling.
The pilot has been with the Snowbirds since 2019, and this is his third visit to Comox to train for the upcoming season.
He says the pilots are drafted from all over the military, but they tend to look for pilots with more experience, skills, and around 1,000 hours in the ejection seat. Quick reactions and experience are vital when flying at high speeds in close proximity to other pilots.
Capt. Reid adds they spend a lot of time discussing the flight before heading out as they have limited time in the air.
“Preparation process starts about an hour and a half before even our takeoff goes. We all get together in a room and we sit down and conduct what’s called ‘the brief’,” he said.
“This is a very thorough walkthrough, all the communications, all the manoeuvres we’re going to perform for that day’s mission to make sure everyone’s able to visualize and know what to expect from that trip.”
He adds the jets are capable but can’t hold much fuel and only allow for about an hour of flying time. He says efficiency is most important.
The team is training in the Comox Valley until May 11. The training will be different than normal as the team was delayed by weather conditions in Moose Jaw, according to Capt. Gabriel Ferris.
“Normally the training in Comox is to make the show a bit tighter,” he said. “This year we were a little bit delayed because of the bad weather we had in Moose Jaw, so we’re actually still in the process of creating the show and putting the pieces together.”
Despite this, he says the training in the Comox Valley is very important because of the terrain.
“On the off season, we train in Moose Jaw. That’s perfect for the beginning of training season because it’s kinda flat and the weather’s usually nice,” said Ferris. “And then we go to Comox because there’s different terrain and training above water and mountains on the horizon is going to be different for a flying show.”
Shows this summer will be closest in Abbotsford for residents of the valley. Flights will be at 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in April and 12:40 p.m. and 4 p.m. in May depending on the weather.
The best place to watch the Snowbirds is Airforce Beach, according to Capt. Ferris.