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Hometown Snowbird flies into region for weekend air show

'It's an absolute privilege,' says Capt. Marc-Andre Plante, who went to high school in the area and will be one of the featured pilots this weekend

The Snowbirds arrived in the area today and before hitting skies for this weekend's Barrie Air Show over Kempenfelt Bay.

The iconic Canadian Forces Snowbirds flew into Lake Simcoe Regional Airport in Oro-Medonte Township on Tuesday to allow pilots to meet with media and guests.

Capt. Marc-Andre Plante flies Snowbird 8, nicknamed Opposing Solo, and will be part of this weekend's much-anticipated show. 

Plante is a former Barrie high school student and self-proclaimed “base brat,” having moved to the area with his family around 2008. His dad is an avionics systems (AVS) technician and was teaching at Canadian Forces Base Borden, just west of the city.

“My family is still here, which is awesome, so I come home for Christmas every year," Plante said. "I went to Nouvelle-Alliance in Grade 11 and then graduated from Bear Creek before joining the military."

Plante has been flying with the Snowbirds for two years and says being with Canada's world-famous aerobatics team is not lost on him.

“It's an absolute privilege. It's incredible to have seen it as a kid and to aspire to be a part of the squadron, to aspire to be a pilot and to fly one is an absolute treat,” he said. 

In 2019, Plante was in another plane that performed over Kempenfelt Bay and was able to be on the shore to watch the Snowbirds fly manoeuvres shortly after.

“To now be able to do some of the low-level manoeuvres over downtown and by the condos will be really fun,” Plante admitted.

Cpl. Justin Shantidatt, a technician who works on the Snowbirds, will be at the local airport should any maintenance be needed on the planes, which have remained relatively the same since the 1960s.

“As they get older, we’re putting in more frequent inspections to make sure they keep our pilots safe in the air,” Shantidatt said.

“Some of the stuff is still original to the aircraft. If you look at the manufacturer's date on some things they have a date from the '60s. They get refurbished and we use a lot of testing to make sure there is no damage that we can’t see with our eyes," he added. 

As for the name of the plane Plante will be flying this weekend, he says his job as the pilot of Opposing Solo is quite basic, but complicated, too.

“The lead solo is that one that actually flies the line, trying to fly as accurate a profile as possible and the opposing solo’s job is to just miss,” Plante said. “Don’t hit the ground, don’t hit the other plane, but make it look like you hit the other plane.”

This weekend's shows start at 1 p.m., on both Saturday and Sunday, and will feature the iconic Canadian Forces Snowbirds and other aircraft that will be seen by crowds along the shoreline of Kempenfelt Bay.

Other events are also planned, with a full itinerary available by clicking here.


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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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