City investigates potential Snowbirds return
The Snowbirds will return to the skies over Camrose this summer if funding is approved by city council on Jan. 15. Supplied
The Snowbirds may be returning to the skies over Camrose.
The Camrose Flying Club brought a presentation to the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 2 with the opportunity for a July 18 stop over by the Canadian Forces aerobatics squadron. The Snowbirds have performed in the city four times before, but it has been four years since they last flew out of the Camrose Airport. The stop would be a pitstop for the group on their way to the Cold Lake International Airshow.
The City will take a closer look at the numbers before bringing it back to council on Jan. 15.
"It's not just a performance when they come to our community, they are able to base at our airport, which is one of the smallest and most intimate airports that they fly into," said airshow producer and volunteer with the Camrose Flying Club Jadene Mah. "There's no other venue in the world that allows spectators to see the jets up close and personal. You really get a chance to have a good view of one of Canada's national treasures, parked right here on the ramp in Camrose."
Jan. 15 is an important date for the organizing committee as it is a deadline for the Camrose Flying Club to apply for a government grant. The club cannot apply for it until they have approval from the City for additional funding.
The CFC is looking for $7,500 in funding from the city for the show as well as services donated in-kind and the club would also match the $7,500. Organizers will also seek $20,000 in community sponsorships and grants to help cover the cost of hosting.
It takes a lot of planning and a committed effort by the flying club and the City to put on an air show, but with four shows already in their history, they have it down to a science.
The logistical work that goes into setting the stage for the Snowbirds is complex. Organizers must ensure there is a clear deck for the pilots to perform their tricks. This means they have to make sure the air over Camrose is clear of other aircraft and that there are no cell towers or other structures in the way of where they perform their maneuvers and in a good placement for the audience to view safely. They also must get the airport's neighbours on board.
"In the airshow world … they call it an aerobatics display area and that involves lots of intricacies," said Mah. "Before we move on to that … we need to make sure the City is interested and committed to having (the Snowbirds)."
The Camrose Airport provides a unique experience for local aviation enthusiasts. The airport is one of the smallest venues the Snowbirds can perform at and this also means spectators can get closer to the action than anywhere else. They will also have the opportunity to check out the planes and interact with the pilots. Four years ago, organizers arranged an ice cream social with the Snowbirds promotion.
A mid-week stop in Camrose would open the show up to field trips for local youth groups to get up-close-and-personal with the pilots.
"It's a huge opportunity for the inspiration business," said Mah.
The Snowbirds Airshow has also provided a legacy project for the airport in each of their trips to the Rose City. Past projects have included purchasing fencing to keep the fence in-line with Canadian standards or to purchase equipment for the annual Fly-in Breakfast among other projects. The government grant will largely go to towards this project.
''We really try to make it a win-win," said Mah. "We're working with engineering to itemize some of our needs for the airport."