Recognizing that the current COVID-19 pandemic means that many Canadian air shows will be cancelled, if not already cancelled (the 2020 Abbotsford International Airshow being the latest), and as a means of paying tribute to the essential, frontline workers serving Canadians during these difficult times, the Canadian Armed Forces has sent 431 Air Demonstration Squadron on a special mission: Operation Inspiration.

The Snowbirds are providing as many Canadians as possible with performances of their world-renown aerial ballet acts by embarking on a cross-Canada tour, which started in Nova Scotia on Sunday, May 3. Having the Maritime province at the start of the tour was especially poignant, given the tremendous collective grief of its citizens with the recent mass murder and the loss of some its sailors and airmen in the recent Cyclone crash, both occurring while locked down due to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, their scheduled appearance over Newfoundland and Labrador had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

“We’ve been asked to do what we do best – inspire Canadians,” said Snowbirds’ commanding officer LCol Mike French. “Through Operation Inspiration, we not only want to salute the front-line health care workers, first responders and essential workers, but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We want Canadians to know we’re in this with you.”

As of this writing (May 7), the tour is leaving Montreal and will fly over Cornwall and Ottawa before ending the day in Gatineau, Quebec. Friday will take the squadron onward over Perth, Smiths Falls, Brockville and Kingston before overnighting at CFB Trenton in Ontario. Further scheduling remains fluid – readers are advised to check the Snowbirds’ Facebook page for up-to-date information on when and where they will appear as they make their way westward to Victoria, British Columbia.

Photo courtesy RCAF