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Snowbirds Formation Flying

Heroes Remember

Snowbirds Formation Flying

They changed half the team every year and the reason for that was to have continuity so that you always have a half experienced team and it gave you the opportunity for those who were remaining to teach the trade to those who were coming on board. You start, if you look at the formation there are three sections of three each. So you have, you’d have a number one which is the lead. You’d have five which is the sort of the lead for the second section. You’d have a seven which is the lead for the third section and they’re stacked one behind the other. So you can just take them and pull them out and you got a three plane, one, two and three and you got another three plane right behind him and another three plane. So what you do is you do the manoeuvres in three plane first and each of the three sections practice them, then you add to it. You bring in a second section and you now have six planes and eventually you bring in the last section. You have the full nine plane formation bearing in mind that the two outside people in the third section, eight and nine are the solos and there’s only certain manoeuvres where they participate with the nine plane. So you work up to that and when everybody’s comfortable you start initially as I say with the three plane and you’re working with the wing tip separation. As you become more proficient, you move it in and when you get to show status you will be overlapped by eighteen to twenty four inches on the wings. What is important as well is that as you’re building the team together you’re always looking for different situations. You’d say, okay what would you do if this happened? If you’re sitting in the middle of the formation in number five position, and you lose an engine, how are you going to get out of the middle of that formation without affecting everybody around you? So for every manouevre there’s an escape route. No matter where you are in the manouevre there’s an escape route. If you get here and something happens you do this. If you’re up here and something happens you do this so that is how you build safety into it. And then having done that, you’re working at altitude and that allows you to make corrections if anything goes wrong. And as you get closer to show status you start moving it down until you eventually get it down to the show levels.

Mr. Peters describes how an air show develops from original practice flights to attaining air show readiness.

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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