Snowbirds: we need more time to practice

A Canadian Snowbird jet on the tarmac at the 2015 Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show (Photo Courtesy: Tim O'Coin)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The weather is partly to blame for the Snowbirds canceling their performance at the Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show.

In a statement on its Facebook page, The Royal Canadian Air Force demonstration team said persistent poor weather at its home base in Saskatchewan had forced the team to cancel numerous practice flights. Major Patrick Gobeil, Snowbirds’ team lead, said he determined they needed more time to practice and train before flying in another air show.

The Snowbirds said they’ve canceled all their scheduled performances through the first weekend of June. Along with Rhode Island, the team was scheduled to fly in five other air shows.

It’s the second year in a row that the Rhode Island Air Show’s scheduled headline performers have canceled. Last year, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds were forced to pull out, after one of their F-16s crashed during a demonstration in Colorado.

Col. Pete Parente, the Rhode Island National Guard’s Public Affairs Officer, said Tuesday organizers were disappointed that the Snowbirds would not be flying, but certainly understood the team’s decision.

“You can imagine the safety restrictions that go into any type of military formation, but they are particularly crucial for jet demonstration teams,” Parente said. “Since they fly so close together, doing dangerous aerobatic maneuvers week after week, everything has to be precise.”