“There is good potential,” the Snowbirds demonstration team will make a return to Tillsonburg this summer, said Andre Brisson, Chair, Ontario’s South Coast Airshow 2014.
Brisson dropped the good news ‘bomb’ on the tail end of a request for support to council during March 24's open meeting.
Snowbirds officials made initial contact said Brisson, indicating the possibility of two 45-minute shows on either the June 13/14 or June 6/7 weekend.
There is much to like about the possibility, said Brisson, and not much to not like. Apart from the precision flight team’s well-earned reputation for excellence and star-level drawing power, the fact the Snowbirds are a military unit means expenses to bring them to town are largely limited to accommodation and meals.
Brisson estimated the Snowbirds’ Canadian-built Canadair CT-114 Tutor aircraft would require fuelling three or four times. There is also the possibility of a CF18 demonstration plane, which requires 6,000 pounds of fuel every time it flies. A quick calculation reveals $20,000 in potential fuel sales compared to modest living expenses, a positive balance of trade in anyone’s books.
The potential dates coincide with Turtlefest (June 13/14/15) and the Tillsonburg Relay for Life (June 6/7/8). Given the Snowbirds like to be active in their host community, touring downtown and meeting with youth, their arrival could be a crowd multiplier and experience-enhancer for the first event, and not directly conflict with the latter’s Friday overnight schedule.
The Snowbirds are also flexible in their performance time, said Brisson, in response to a question from Councillor Dave Beres.
“Basically, when we want them to fly.”
There would not, however, be the likelihood of coordinating a downtown or other off-site performance Brisson stated in response to a query from Councillor Marty Klein, given regulations which essentially dictate flying over an airport.
Brisson had approached council seeking Town of Tillsonburg support in the form of financial backing and insurance coverage, for the Saturday, August 23 South Coast Air Show. The show has to date, raised $11,000 of its $30,000 budget through sponsorship, but needed what was in effect, a guarantor for a balance it anticipates covering and surpassing in additional sponsorship and ticket sales.
There was a sense of urgency to his request, said Brisson, “because if we wait much longer, we will lose the performers.”
There was a greater sense of urgency with regards to the Snowbirds, given hosts basically have one opportunity to say ‘yes’.
If the military calls back and says ‘yes’, “we have to say ‘yes’ now, not later, or they’ll go somewhere else,” said Brisson.
Following financial discussion on the former, and enthusiastic support for the latter, council supported both of Brisson’s requests.