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Canadian Snowbirds fly in for Huntington Beach air show

Canadian Snowbirds
The Canadian Snowbirds fly over the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on Tuesday, Oct. 1. They will be performing in the Great Pacific Airshow this weekend in Huntington Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

If you’re at the Great Pacific Airshow this weekend in Huntington Beach, don’t forget to wave to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. They’ll look out for it.

“We can see people on the beach waving when we’re flying by,” Denis Bandet, the Snowbirds’ team leader, said in an interview Tuesday. "[We] feed off that enthusiasm. People are still very excited about aviation, and that motivates us to put on a good show and show what the Canadian Forces are capable of.”

Canadian Snowbirds
Maj. Denis Bandet of the Canadian Snowbirds speaks during a welcoming ceremony at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Snowbirds — officially known as the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force — zoomed in formation across the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on Tuesday before touching down. They were greeted with cheers and applause from Huntington Beach city officials and others during a special ceremony.

“Welcome back! You guys know you’re an absolute crowd favorite, right?” Kevin Elliott, the air show director, told the team.

The fourth edition of the free show, originally called the Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow, is slated for Friday through Oct. 6 in the area of the Waterfront Beach Resort along Pacific Coast Highway.

Mayor Pro Tem Lyn Semeta told the Snowbirds she was excited to have them return after their 2017 performance and said the air show is a “wonderful way to bring people together.”

Tuesday’s welcome ceremony officially launched activities leading to Huntington Beach’s fourth edition of the free air show, which is slated for this weekend in the area of the Waterfront Beach Resort along Pacific Coast Highway.

Canadian Snowbirds
Margaret Clark, left, who was Ms. United Provinces of Canada and then Ms. Canada in 1960, talks with Capt Pierre-Marc Deschenes of the Canadian Snowbirds. Clark posed for a picture with the Snowbirds in 1960 and was on the cover of Canadian magazine Western Wings, shown bottom left.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

It also marked a trip down memory lane for Margaret Clark, a Huntington Beach resident who has volunteered with the show the past three years.

In a 1960 edition of Western Wings, an aviation magazine in western Canada, Clark is seen on the front cover posing with seven Snowbirds. In the photo, Clark, wearing a cowgirl outfit with her Miss United Provinces of Canada sash, smiles while perched on a jet wing.

On Tuesday, Clark — dressed in a purple cowgirl outfit and proudly wearing a Miss Canada International sash — showed the Snowbirds a copy of the magazine and posed for pictures with them next to a jet to re-create the magazine photo.

Canadian Snowbirds
Margaret Clark, center, and the Canadian Snowbirds recreate the cover photo of a 1960 Western Wings magazine which featured Clark.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“It’s fantastic. It’s wonderful. I never thought it would happen,” Clark said.

The Snowbirds are the first jet team to arrive for the show. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, along with the F-35 Lightning Demo team, are scheduled to fly into the base Thursday. Other show headliners include the United Kingdom’s Red Arrows.

According to Bandet, the Snowbirds’ show is broken into three parts: an opener featuring nine aircraft in formation and working in tandem, then solos with opposing crosses and special maneuvers unique to the Snowbirds, then uniting for the grand finale.

Canadian Snowbirds
The Canadian Snowbirds line up at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on Tuesday, Oct 1. They will be performing in the Great Pacific Airshow this weekend in Huntington Beach.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We know right at the end of a show if it’s a good show or not,” Bandet said. “Sometimes the environment can come into play, but when we have a good show, we know just by a gut feeling. I can just look across the wing and everyone is smiling.”

Residents can welcome the performers at a free community reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Pier Plaza at Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach. The event will feature live music, a question-and-answer and autograph session and official show merchandise.

IF YOU GO

What: Great Pacific Airshow

When: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday

Where: The area of the Waterfront Beach Resort in the 21000 block of Pacific Coast Highway

Cost: Free, but upgraded viewing seats are available for purchase online and at the event.

Information: pacificairshow.com

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