Snowbirds dazzle above Camrose
The Canadian Airforce Snowbirds performed their full aeronautical acrobatic show at the Camrose Municipal Airport on July 18. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
Every once in a while Mother Nature comes through.
With threatening thunderstorms surrounding Camrose, the skies opened up to provide perfect conditions for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds on July 18.
"Thunderstorms are a little tricky, but it looks like, as we call it, the Snowbirds hole opened up and we had beautiful blue sky," said Snowbird 11 pilot, Capt. Robbie Hindle. "The show was awesome, it went off without a hitch. The winds were calm, there was beautiful lighting, there was no thunderstorms and the crowd was great."
Hindle is one of two Snowbird team coordinators, he flies a spare jet to shows and provides commentary and music for the gathered crowd. In this case, early estimates pegged the crowd at between 3,500 and 4,000 people at the Camrose Municipal Airport, with people coming from as far away as Spruce Grove and Red Deer.
It was no small feat to put on and required the coordination and support of the City of Camrose, Camrose County and a number of different groups like the Camrose Sea Serpents Swim Club, the 644 Camrose Rotary Air Cadets, the Camrose Fire Department, Camrose Police Service, the local Brownies troupe, and others.
"The snowbirds are inspiring but the way the community comes together, to me, is the most inspiring part," said Camrose Flying Club board member and organizer Jadene Mah.
There were many moving parts to the event, from securing transportation in the form of a bike valet and park and ride from the Recreation Centre, to working with local land owners and rounding up sponsors. Perhaps the biggest challenge was figuring out where to hold the air show.
When the Snowbirds have flown over Camrose in the past the show box was near the Camrose Resort Casino. However, that involves shutting down two provincial highways and a railway — a major challenge in its own right — and does not have the best of viewing areas.
With an initially wary city council, organizers looked for a less complicated option and landed on the airport and turned the City's snow dump into viewing area.
Mah said all local land owners bought in, a critical point in setting up the show.
"Without their cooperation … If we don't have a stage, we don't have a show box and we can't go much further."
It may be a while before the Snowbirds return to Camrose.
To make the show happen, the City of Camrose provided $7,500 in funding as well as work in kind from public works and community services. There were also many volunteer hours put into organizing and preparing the evening over the course of seven months.
"The City was hesitant. It's a lot of hours," said Mah. "And then we have to consider the infrastructure of the airport. These are 11 vintage jets, our airport typically isn't managed to a jet standard where we have the equipment and the budget to prepare and maintain an airport to that standard. We have to look at the surfaces, the surfaces are key."