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A decision to pause the Canadian Forces Snowbirds’ performance schedule and pursue extra training is “precautionary,” the commanding officer of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron stressed in a statement on Friday.
LCol D.B. Wintrup made the statement on the Snowbirds’ official Facebook page, stressing the Snowbirds’ performances are safe, scripted and approved by regulatory authorities in Canada and the United States.
“The design, approval, training and acceptance are part of an extensive process that is built around public and performer safety,” said Wintrup.
“Due to many factors that ultimately impacted our ability to achieve consistent and exhaustive training (e.g., weather during training season), our highly motivated, accurate and professional aviators need some additional time to hone their formation flying accuracy, continue to gel as an effective team and thereby continue to deserve the title of world renowned military performers.”
The Snowbirds announced earlier this week they are stepping away from their performance schedule to pursue extra training at their home base at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask.
A reduced training period hampered by poor weather that continued into show season resulted in numerous cancelled practices, said Maj Patrick Gobeil, Snowbirds Team Lead, at the time.
“As a result, more training is required before the Snowbirds resume the 2017 schedule,” he said.
The Snowbirds confirmed they have cancelled their participation in some upcoming airshows. Cancelled performances include a May 24 show in Fort Erie, Ont., and Airshow YQG on May 27 and 28 in Windsor, Ont.
Airshow YQG was reportedly cancelled entirely after the Snowbirds pulled out.
The decision to return the Snowbirds to 431 Squadron to pursue training is a normal process that Canadian Armed Forces units employ to ensure the mission is, “achievable with the least acceptable risk and the highest probability of success,” said Wintrup.
“This decision, initiated at the squadron by Snowbird team lead in consultation with me, the commanding officer, was endorsed unanimously by the entire Royal Canadian Air Force Command structure, in accordance with our collective responsibilities.”
Wintrup added that flying any aircraft implies an inherent element of risk.
“That is why the Snowbirds are highly trained professional pilots who have the safety of the public and the formation members top of mind,” he said.
“We will return to the air show circuit with our spectacular performances as soon as we complete a period of evaluation and practice. Thank you again for your comments in support, and your understanding.”