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Snowbirds Genesis

Heroes Remember

I had flown the CF-100 to a number of different air shows. I knew Jake Miller who flew the 101 and Winnie SeRose who flew the 104, I knew them really well. Got to know O.B. Philp who was the CO of the Centennaires, gone on to Moose Jaw and shortly after we got there in, I guess it was 1970, the base commander at CFB Moose Jaw was appointed was O.B. Philp. One of the things that Canada had always done quite successfully was to have an excellent aerobatic team and then right at the height of this performances, disbanded. I mean, they had the, initially they had the Siskins, then they had the Golden Hawks. These are the air force wide teams. Then they had the Centennaires. All them disbanded, all formed for a specific purpose and disbanded after that. So when O.B., O.B. had always thought that the military should have a permanent aerobatic team. One of the things that up to that point the teams were not allowed to do is you could not do formation aerobatics. The regulations in the military forbid you to do formation aerobatics. So, through ingenuity, you looked at the definition of a loop and a loop says it's a 360 degree return in a vertical plane. So, okay, and that's an aerobatic. But if we inclined it a bit 10 degrees off the vertical, it was no longer an aerobatic. So that's what he did for the first go-around and that's how they started to get the maneuvers and then with that, they went to petition the Air Force and said, look these fellows are very good and we'll be very careful and we'd like to try a couple of air bag maneuvers. We'll try a loop. We'll try a roll and that's the way it started. Now I was there during that time and participated in the early formation teams and then came time to select the Snowbird. The first Snowbird team and I said, “I'd like to try out,” and he said, “No, we've got you slated to go into standards. You're going to take over quality control and standards and you know, with your experience and you're an A-1 and we just can't," ou know, there were only three A-1s on the base. They said, “We just can't have an A-1 just flying around in formation.”

Mr. Peters describes the part he played in establishing the Snowbirds aerobatics team.

Walter Peters

Walter Peters, the youngest of six children, was born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia in 1937. A graduate of Mount Allison University, he worked for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age twenty-four and entering pilot training. After receiving his commission and wings, Mr. Peters enjoyed a distinguished career on many levels. He was Canada’s first black jet fighter pilot and an A1 flying instructor. He was involved in the development of the Snowbirds and later flew with them. At Trenton, Mr. Peters piloted Hercules cargo aircraft on assorted missions around the globe, and it was here that he also became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first Human Rights Officer. As advisor to the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Peters offered advice on the tactical movement of troops by air, and analysed and briefed the Council after the Russian shootdown of a Korean civilian jet in 1983. He retired holding the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Peters
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Air Force

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