Have an eye for Snowbird 8 at this weekend’s Barrie Air Show.
The plane will be piloted by Captain Marc-Andre Plante, who has roots in the Barrie area.
He went to Nouvelle-Alliance in Grade 11 and graduated from Bear Creek Secondary School.
Plante’s father is an avionics systems technician (AVS) and teacher at Canadian Fores Base Borden in Angus.
“I still come here for Christmas every year,” says Plante.
He and the other members of the iconic Canadian Forces Snowbirds touched down at Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte earlier this week and met with members of the media.
This is his third year flying with the Snowbirds, and Plante performed at the Air Show at Borden last June.
He says being able to fly with the Snowbirds is a privilege.
“It’s incredible to have seen it as a kid, to aspire to be part of that squadron, to aspire to be a pilot and be able to fly that is an absolute treat. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to do something that I think it would be an understatement to say that a few thousand people probably want to do as well.”
Plante was part of the Barrie Air Show in 2019, but he was in a different plane.
“I got to watch the Snowbirds,” he says. “I am really excited to do it now as one of the Snowbirds, especially as a solo doing the low-level maneuvering near downtown and over some of the condos. I think it will be pretty fun.”
The Snowbirds will do a practice run over Kempenfelt Bay on Friday, June 9.
Plante says the show’s choreography changes every year, noting they have a huge bank of maneuvers they can pull from.
“We’ve got 50 years of experience. It’s going to be based on experience, what people would like to see, and how it all goes together. You want to pack as many maneuvers as you can in a short time as possible to keep everyone engaged.”
Plante previously flew Snowbird 2.
“Snowbird 2 is the inner right wing. The primary job there is to be as stable as possible because I had multiple other aircraft flying outside of me, 8 being one of them,” he explains. “Now I get to fly outside of that, and it’s a little bit more dynamic. You are just further out of the pendulum, so there is a lot more movement involved, and there are a lot of formation changes involved. Then, of course, the solos, and there is a lot of low-level maneuvering that I had to learn this year.”
Plante’s favourite maneuver is the mirror pass.
“Where Snowbird 9 rolls upside down, and then I move directly below. It is pretty much the top gun maneuver.”
The Barrie Air Show takes place both Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. over Kempenfelt Bay.
More information by clicking here.
Banner image: Captain Marc-Andre Plante – photo – Barrie 360