Mass flyover of 35 planes over Metro Vancouver tonight in tribute to the Snowbirds

May 18 2020, 10:10 am

Coinciding with tonight’s 7 pm cheer, the skies over Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley will be busier than usual for a mass flyover in tribute to the CF Snowbirds.

BC General Aviation Association (BCGAA) is coordinating “Operation Backup Inspiration” following Sunday’s Snowbirds crash in Kamloops that resulted in the death of Captain Jenn Casey.

At the time, the Snowbirds were performing over Kamloops as part of their cross-country tour to lift the spirits of Canadians during COVID-19. The famed aerobatic troupe is grounded until further notice.

But some local pilots are hoping to pick up where the Snowbirds left off in their mission.

After issuing a callout and receiving an “overwhelming” response, BCGAA has limited tonight’s flyover to 35 participating planes.

The mass flyover will begin at 6:30 pm at Abbotsford International Airport, with pilots following a lead plane that uses the callsign “Inspiration 1.”

The route will bring the flyover over Langley, White Rock, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby North, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Jericho Beach and English Bay, downtown Vancouver, and Burnaby Lake.

Once the first aircraft passes, there will be a line of aircraft that will last for about 14 minutes.

metro vancouver flyover route may 18 2020

Operation Backup Inspiration mass flyover route on May 18, 2020. (BC General Aviation Association)

As the flyover is avoiding Vancouver International Airport’s control zone, the flyover will not reach areas such as Richmond and Delta in southwest Metro Vancouver.

After the completion of the route, the pilots will break off and return to their home airport.

The planes are required to be flown one behind the other at 80 to 90 knots, with a minimum of a half-mile (800 metres) spacing. For safety reasons, organizers are prohibiting formations, side by side, over under, and overtakes.

“We are paying tribute to the Snowbirds. In doing so we must act with the same level of professionalism and care that they do every day. There is zero tolerance for deviations,” reads the bulletin.

snowbird pilot

Captain Jenn Casey. (Canadian Forces)