Snowbirds fly into Tillsonburg on Aug. 29

By Hugo Rodrigues, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

Brantford's loss is Tillsonburg's gain.

The Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds Demonstration Team, which had scheduled a stop in Brantford for the now-cancelled Rotary Brantford Charity Air Show on Aug. 29, instead will be performing at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport.

Capt. Robert Chagnon confirmed by e-mail Wednesday the squad's schedule was changed on June 26 by its commanders at the Canadian Air Division headquarters based out of Winnipeg. He said he does not know why the schedule was changed.

Tillsonburg airport general manager Annette Murray said she put in a request for the Snowbirds earlier this year when she learned the team might need an alternate location.

"You never know what will happen," Murray said.

The airport was contacted a few weeks ago to book the Aug. 29 date. The Snowbirds' appearance means the regional municipal airport has now scheduled two air shows for this summer. Its main air show is scheduled for a full day on Aug. 18, featuring the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, which has its home base at the Tillsonburg site.

Murray said the airport is now trying to book the Skyhawks, the Canadian Forces parachute team, who also were booked to perform in Brantford. The Skyhawks' calendar still shows their presence in Brantford on Aug. 29.

Murray said the Snowbirds will land in Tillsonburg on Aug. 28, perform the next day and then depart for the Canadian National Exhibition air show in Toronto.

"If it's just the Snowbirds, it'll be a fairly short, but memorable, show," Murray said.

The Snowbirds last performed in Tillsonburg on June 26, 2005, when they squeezed in an appearance adjacent to the nearby London Air Show. The schedule in London was pared down in 2005, opening up an opportunity for the aerial demonstration team to wow the crowds in Tillsonburg.

The cancellation of the 2012 Brantford show was confirmed in June by the Rotary Club of Brantford. At the time, the club gave as a reason the uncertainty over repairs to the Brantford Airport's apron - which had kept the Snowbirds away from Brantford in 2011. The repairs, made specifically so the Snowbirds would return to Brantford, were finally budgeted and scheduled for this year and the work was scheduled to be complete by the end of this month.

When the Brantford show's cancellation was confirmed, air show committee chair Melissa Minshall wrote in an e-mail she was still hoping the Snowbirds would come to Brantford without the full air show surrounding them.

"The team speaks highly of Brantford and we have a very positive reputation with them, stemming from a well-established relationship," Minshall wrote.


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