Is it time to ground the Snowbirds?

As a group, they are an iconic Canadian symbol that rivals the RCMP Musical Ride, the beaver, a Tim Hortons coffee and pond hockey.

But are they worth it?

The country was shocked and saddened May 17 when a Snowbirds aircraft crashed into a house in Kamloops, killing Capt. Jennifer Casey of Halifax, and seriously injuring another.

The Snowbirds, despite their excellence, are no strangers to disaster.

Since the squadron was formed in 1971, there have been seven pilots killed in crashes, others involved in accidents that could well have resulted in fatalities, and related deaths of team members.

Related: Commander calls Snowbirds crash ‘worst nightmare’ as Forces begins investigation

The first Snowbird pilot died in flight in 1972.

Solo Capt. Lloyd Waterer was killed after a wingtip collision with another aircraft, during an air show at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario.

Six years later, another pilot was killed at a Grand Prairie, Alta., airshow. In 1989, two planes plunged into Lake Ontario during an airshow at the Canadian National Exposition, after a mid-air collision, with one of the men perishing.

Other deaths have been recorded during practice and non-demonstration flights.

Assignment to the Snowbirds — officially called the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron — denotes a nearly unfathomable amount of nerve and skill.

The planes fly up to 590 kilometres an hour, often with a separation between aircrafts of 1.8 metres.

It’s important to remember these are not professional entertainers or daredevils. These are Canadian service people.

Related: B.C. pilots organize memorial flight to honour Snowbirds after fatal crash

Human life is not the only cost.

The squadron employees 80 full-time personnel, and it takes approximately $10 million a year to just schedule the team’s airshow performances.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement regarding the most recent tragedy.

“For the past two weeks, the Snowbirds have been flying across the country to lift up Canadians during these difficult times. Every day, they represent the very best of Canada and demonstrate excellence through incredible skill and dedication. Their flyovers across the country put a smile on the faces of Canadians everywhere and make us proud.”

Is that a pride worth dying for?

At a time when every resource available to Canadians needs to be measured and carefully deployed, it at least deserves a discussion. Is it time to ground the Snowbirds?

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

­—Similkameen Spotlight

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

Evacuation order and alerts issued for properties in Cawston area

Flooding in region results in State of Local Emergency

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Arena served Summerland for 26 years

Warm winters meant short ice seasons in early 1950s

Environment Canada cancels storm alert for Princeton

Rain and some thunderstorms still expected overnight

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Significant flooding not expected in Summerland

Okanagan Lake now slightly higher than full pool level

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Dyer: I left my heart in the desert

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

RCMP seek suspect in armed robbery at Salmon Arm gas station

Police believe suspect entered convenience store prior to covering face with mask

Horoscopes for the week of June 1

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Kootnekoff: Re-opening to a new normal

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice

Most Read