The Canadian Forces Snowbirds

2017 Theme - A Tradition of Excellence

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are joining in the celebrations of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. The team will perform thrilling aerobatic shows, and breathtaking fly pasts over our nation’s capital on Canada Day, and cities and towns across North America. Look for the commemorative CT-114 Tutor jet with the Canada 150 paint scheme appearing at select locations.

Following in the footsteps of the Golden Centennaires air demonstration team, formed in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s Centennial, the Snowbirds are honoured to uphold their proud legacy. We are eager to inspire all Canadians by showcasing the skill, professionalism, and teamwork of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

We invite you to meet our team of highly skilled pilots, technicians, and support personnel from all over our country. Their dedication to excellence is embodied in the awe-inspiring formations of red and white jets in the sky over head. 

Join us, your 2017 Canadian Forces Snowbirds, as we proudly honour our strong military heritage during this year of sesquicentennial celebrations.

F18 Demo Team

The Canadian Force's CF-18 Demonstration Team is returning for the 2017 airshow season and we promise to deliver spectacular performances throughout the summer!

The CF-18 Demonstration Team personifies the excellence required to keep the Canadian Air Force among the best aviation organizations on the planet. The expertise and dedication required by the team, from the pilot to the maintenance crews to the coordinators, reflects the professionalism of all of Canada's airmen and airwomen.

Kent Pietsch

Kent Pietsch fell in love with flying when he was four years-old. Five decades later, his passion has not waned.

Since 1973, Kent has performed his incredible aerobatic routines for millions of people at more than 400 shows that have taken him to quality venues throughout the United States.

Kent grew up in Minot, North Dakota, where every day after school, he’d find a way to get to the airport, and do whatever it took to get into an airplane.

While most aerobatic performers have one basic program, Kent executes three storied acts that leave spectators mesmerized. These include a dead-stick (turning the engine off) routine from 6,000 feet and a rooftop landing on a moving RV! However, Kent is best known for a comedy act that features a detached aileron (wing flap) and a mesmerizing wingtip-scraping pass down the runway that you must see to believe. When Kent is at the controls of his plane, it is impossible not to watch him perform.

Kent loves to fly, but the audience is always his number-one priority. “If you can’t entertain, you have no business being out there,” he said. “The gratification is in knowing that people are enjoying themselves.” Kent’s humble nature and willingness to interact with fans make him a crowd favorite wherever he performs.

He flies an 800-pound Interstate Cadet with a 37-foot wingspan. The plane’s horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine can generate 90 horsepower and a G-force ranging from -3 to +5.

Brent Handy

Brent is an unrestricted, surface-rated aerobatic pilot. His airshow experience began in 2012 when he flew in the opposing solo position for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Currently flying the Pitts Special at airshows across Canada and the United States, Brent also maintains a full time career on active duty with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a training and standards pilot, responsible for the Snowbirds. Brent has served as a military flying instructor and also as a CF-18 Hornet fighter pilot.

When a child dreams and wants something so deeply in their soul, anything is possible. Every detail of their life becomes aligned with achieving their goal. Family gathers in support. True friends are separated from the rest. And when born in a nation so rich with opportunity, the impossible becomes reality!

This has been Brent’s story.

Born in small town Wyevale, Ontario, Brent knew from a young age that he wanted to spend his time in the air. Brent’s early flight training was earned through the Air Cadet program. His first solo was in an Air Cadet glider, at age 16. Ten years later, Brent’s dream of becoming a CF-18 Hornet pilot was a reality. And through a fortunate series of events, he was selected to fly as a team pilot with the renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet team in 2011.

Following his tour with the Snowbirds in 2012/2013, Brent took his airshow career to the next level. Purchasing a beautiful Pitts S-2, he had the good fortune of polishing his aerobatic prowess with airshow legend Wayne Handley.

2017 will mark Brent’s fourth season as an unrestricted, surface-rated aerobatic performer. Expect an adrenaline-filled, heart-pumping series of tumbles, torque rolls, and loops. The Pitts Special is THE airshow airplane to inspire young and old to pursue their passions!

Yellow Thunder

David Watson

David grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and after moving through Toronto and Calgary, now resides in Beaumont, Alberta. David is a business owner of which he began with his father over 20 years ago. Today he flies purely for recreation; he enjoys the discipline and skill required for aerobatic and formation flying.

In David’s younger years, he tagged along with his father and other Western Warbird Association members, flying (or riding) in everything from Chipmunks, Harvards, Mentors, Expeditors, and a wide variety of other warbirds.

He trained for his pilot’s license in the last Fleet Canuck in the Edmonton Flying Club fleet (C- FEOH) in 1985. Later that year, he immediately acquired a Harvard endorsement flying his father’s Harvard; the same aircraft he now owns and flies in the airshow circuit.

Over the years, David received some basic aerobatic training and has practiced aerobatics regularly since 2002. In 2007, he purchased a Yak-52 aircraft to fly competition aerobatics. David won first place in Sportsman’s category in 2009 - his first contest. David no longer competes, but now has focused his aerobatics in his Harvard.

David now combines his talents of aerobatics and formation flying to demonstrate his abilities to crowds in the Western parts of Canada and the United States.

Drew Watson

Drew resides in Edmonton with his wife, Wendy, and two teenage children. Drew is a business owner in the information technology sector, providing consulting services to businesses in the Edmonton region. Drew is a lifelong learner who, among his aviation education, is a recent graduate of Grant MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Commerce program.

Drew’s passion for warbirds started when he had his first ride in his father’s ex-RCAF Chipmunk. Drew was exposed to more warbirds as he grew up while travelling to various airshows, fly- ins, and social gatherings with his father. At these events Drew managed to scrounge rides by cleaning airplanes for their owners; these rides were in a variety of ex-military aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, B-25 “Mitchell” Bomber, Harvard, Cessna Crane “The Bamboo Bomber”, Stearman, and the Beech 18 ‘Expeditor’.

Drew purchased his first airplane, a Fleet Canuck, in 2000 and obtained his private pilot license in this airplane in 2002. Within two years, and a whole lot of practice, Drew was checked out in his father’s Harvard, now owned by his brother, David. Drew purchased his Harvard in 2002 from a family friend and used this airplane to get his commercial license shortly thereafter. Drew now mostly flies small twin engine airplanes for various companies in Central Alberta.

Drew can be found flying his Harvard with his brother, David, in the Ponoka, Alberta area or at various airshows in Western Canada and the United States.

Gary Ward Airshows

Gary began his airshow career in 1998 in a Pitts S2-B. In 1999, he moved to the Giles 202 and in 2006, he became the first pilot to begin flying airshows in the awesome new MX2! The MX2 is the absolute latest in unlimited aerobatic aircraft. It is strong, fast, and very agile! The entire airframe is constructed of aerospace quality carbon fiber to provide maximum strength and stiffness with minimum weight. The MX2 is powered by a Lycoming engine modified by LYCON to produce more than 350 HP! Please check out our website for more information about one of the most exciting and entertaining performances you will ever see in any aircraft.

Erickson Aircraft Collection

The Erickson Aircraft Collection proudly displays a vintage aircraft collection started by Jack Erickson in 1983. The collection features over twenty rare aircraft, most of which are still in flying condition. The newly named Collection will feature rare aircraft that are still in flying condition such as the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, Grumman Duck and B-17 Flying Fortress. 



Serving mainly in World War II in the Pacific Theater, the F4U Corsair was the finest carrier-base fighter deployed by any navy and became a fast, versatile and deadly performer and perhaps the best of any U.S. fighter in that conflict. Together with the F6F Hellcat, the Corsair was responsible for the destruction of 7,295 enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat and, in downing enemy planes, it achieved a “kill-to-loss” ratio of 11 to one, the highest for any fighter plane of World War II. The Corsair first flew in May 1940 and at 440 mph, it was one of the fastest fighters of the war with a longer range than any of its counterparts in the Japanese fleet, a distinct advantage in the vast Pacific Ocean where it was most active. The most instantly recognizable feature of the Corsair was its inverted “gull wing” which accomplished two purposes: (1) it permitted a shorter landing gear while still allowing a 13-foot propeller, the biggest fitted to a fighter at the time, to clear the ground, and (2) provided aerodynamic benefits for greater streamlining. Because of the distinctive sound made by air passing through the engine’s cooling ducts, the Japanese nicknamed it “Whistling Death.” Much of the Corsair’s long nose was occupied by a single self-sealing fuel tank holding 237 gallons. This feature, together with a cockpit that was set well back along the fuselage in early models caused visibility ahead and down to be poor and contributed to the aircraft’s initial carrier landing problems and was corrected in later variants. It was not until 1944 when flatter carrier landing techniques were perfected that F4Us were used aboard U.S. Navy carriers in greater numbers, mainly in response to the growing Kamikaze attacks in the Pacific. Before production ended in 1952, the longest production run for a U.S. fighter, a total of 12,571 Corsairs were built. 


The museum’s Corsair is an F4U-7, one of the rarest surviving variants from the last of 94 built in 1952 exclusively for use by the French Navy. It saw combat in the Indo-China War in 1953-54, the Suez Canal War in 1956 and later in the Algerian War. Taken from combat service in 1963, it was flown to England where reconstruction began in 1974 to include rebuilding extensive damage forward of the firewall and repairs to three bullet holes in the fuselage. Restored to its original French markings with invasion stripes which it sported in the Suez War, it was repainted to the Marines’ colors after its acquisition by the museum in 1994. 


The classic P-51 Mustang is one of the greatest success stories of military aviation. Originally designed for Great Britain, the North American fighter was adopted by the U.S. Army Air Force and upgraded with the powerful, reliable Rolls-Royce Merlin which powered the Supermarine Spitfire. With altitude, range, and performance, the Merlin Mustang became a world beater. Ironically, the P-51 owed its existence to a Royal Air Force query for North American to build Curtiss P-40s at a time when British forces were being pushed off the European continent in 1940 and badly needed additional armament. North American proposed a better performing aircraft and quickly drafted the NA-73. The Allison-powered Mustang flew 12 months after the first RAF query and logged its first combat missions in May 1942. Intended for reconnaissance, their primary "armament" was a camera, though two .30 and two .50 caliber guns were installed. Eventually 15 RAF squadrons flew the type. Meanwhile, the Army Air Force tested the XP-51 and was impressed with its performance, which exceeded the P-39 and P-40 and some marks of Spitfire in low-level performance. Beginning in 1943 the USAAF began operating photo-reconnaissance Mustangs (originally the Apache in US service) and A-36 Invader dive bombers, also with Allison engines. However, the promise of improved high-altitude performance had been noted, and a Merlin-powered XP-51B first flew in late 1942. Production B and C models began rolling out of the Inglewood and Dallas factories in 1943, and by year end the 354th Pioneer Mustang Group was escorting heavy bombers over Germany. The D model, with its 360-degree full-vision canopy, appeared in March 1944 and replaced the "razorback" models by year end. 


The museum's P-51D Mustang was built under license to North American in 1944 by Australia's Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in Melbourne, Australia. The aircraft participated in Atomic Bomb testing by the Australians after WW II and served 10 years as a target tow plane before falling into private ownership, being acquired by the museum in 1983.