Helping the Snowbirds fly

Thomas Edelson and the Snowbirds will be at the Abbotsford International Airshow this weekend

Capt. Thomas Edelson

Capt. Thomas Edelson

Flying with eight other pilots at up to 400 knots only a metre from each other requires an inordinate amount of talent and nerves.

But it also takes an entire team — including a born and raised Mission man — to get the Snowbird pilots into the air, and across the country for shows.

Thomas Edelson is a captain with the Canadian Forces and serves as the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron’s public affairs (PA) officer handling planning and logistics. Edelson and the rest of the 85-person unit will be across the river this weekend for the 50th anniversary Abbotsford International Airshow.

“[The job] is busier than I thought it would be, and it’s also a pretty unique way to see the country,” said Edelson via phone.

While nine aircraft and pilots perform, the number 10 jet pilot serves as an announcer, and Edelson flies in the 11 Snowbird with the safety officer.

Abbotsford is one of the bigger shows the Snowbirds attend each year, and that event is one of the few that features the Tutor CT-114 aircraft annually.

Edelson, 34, was a journalist and spent a summer working at The Mission Record and Abbotsford News in 2003. Shortly after completing a course on military reporting, he went to Bosnia and was attached to a PA officer who showed him around.

“I saw the other side of the [military] coin. It is a large organization made up of professionals who all have common goals,” he said. “They have a mission-oriented focus, get to go interesting places and do things others can’t.”

He joined the Canadian Forces in 2008.

Edelson had been working in Ottawa as an executive assistant to the 15 Wing Commander, and finishing up his PA training. When his class was asked who wanted to serve as the PA for the Snowbirds — which entails a two-year commitment — he was the only one who did not raise his hand.

“I wanted to go to an army base,” he explained.

But his superiors approached him afterwards and encouraged him to apply.

“I realized it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I get to see Canada and meet Canadians,” he said. Edelson was posted to 431 in 2012.

With a year left in his commitment to the Snowbirds, Edelson said he intends to sign another contract with the military.

“[My career] gets more and more enjoyable,” he said.

 

• The Abbotsford International Airshow runs Aug. 10-12, and the Snowbirds fly daily at 4:30 p.m. For information and tickets, visit www.abbotsfordairshow.com.

Just Posted

Investigators are on the scene Tuesday (May 18) of a fatal motorcycle collision at Hallert and Bell roads on Matsqui Prairie in Abbotsford. (PHOTO: Shane MacKichan)
Motorcyclist, 64, killed in crash with SUV in Abbotsford

Collision took place Tuesday morning at Bell and Hallert roads

Thirteen-year-old Allison Hickman was last seen in Chilliwack May 14. (RCMP photo)
RCMP say missing Surrey teenager was last seen in Chilliwack

Allison Hickman was last seen in the downtown Chilliwack area on May 14

Dr. Euiseok Kim is the medical director of the new Abbotsford post-COVID-19 recovery clinic. (Submitted)
Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic opens in Abbotsford

New facility following model of first clinic which opened in Surrey

Two small dogs were also discovered by the officer, one had died, and the other was taken by animal control and sent for veterinary care with the BC SPCA. (File Photo)
Body discovered in parked van in Mission with 2 dogs, 1 dead

Remains in state of decomposition, surviving dog sent for veterinary care with BC SPCA

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Cat who chases away coyote asked to join Port Moody, Vancouver police 

Caught on camera Friday, the black cat jumps out from under a parked car and runs the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm, with lightning, pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fires

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit released a poster Tuesday, May 18 featuring the names and photos of more suspects involved in the Lower Mainland gang conflict.
Police issue warning for 8 more men involved in Lower Mainland gang conflict

B.C.’s gang task force says it’s expecting ‘violence to continue and escalate’

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Most Read