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Update: 'Performance error' behind Snowbird cancellation

Kris Dube

Special to the Times

A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) says he can’t get into specific details but has confirmed a performance error during a Snowbirds air show in Florida on May 6 is behind the cancellation of the iconic aerial team’s Fort Erie performance which was expected to take place May 24.

A “flight safety incident” occurred during a show in Fort Lauderdale and is now being investigated internally, according to David Lavallee from the RCAF’s public affairs department.

He said the incident involved a “deviation from position” and is being reviewed by the RCAF’s flight safety system so identified mistakes can be corrected and lessons can be learned.

This wasn’t the first time an imperfection had been noticed recently.

“It was an accumulation of these types of incidents” that resulted in the Snowbirds cancelling six upcoming scheduled shows in Canada and the U.S., Lavallee said.

“The margin for error for these men and women is very, very small.”

Many members of the Fort Erie community were looking forward to seeing Capt. Paul Faulkner show his flying abilities to his hometown.

The cancellation was announced at Monday’s Fort Erie council meeting before the Snowbirds released an official statement, saying the air show team had decided to undertake additional practice and training from its home base at 15 Wing Moose Jaw before returning to the 2017 scheduled air performance season.

“While we have had several well-executed shows and practices early in the season, our team lead has determined that additional training is required,” says the statement.

“A reduced training period hampered by poor weather, which continued into the show season, resulted in numerous cancelled practices. As a result, more training is required before the Snowbirds resume the 2017 schedule,” said Major Patrick Gobeil, Snowbirds team lead.

“We have cancelled our participation in some upcoming air shows, and intend to return to the air show circuit once we have the consistency required for our dynamic nine-aircraft aerobatic performance,” it says in the statement released Monday night.

Tom Kuchyt, Fort Erie’s chief administrative officer, says he doesn’t expect the municipality to be on the hook for its half of the $15,000 cost of the show, which was to be split with the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation.

 



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