Vimy Flight experience takes to Canadian skies
By Sara Keddy,
14 Wing Greenwood Public Affairs
Four First World War replica Nieuport II aircraft took to the skies over Kings County May 5, taking advantage of fine flying weather.
Last in full flight over the Vimy Memorial in France April 9, Valley residents had the first Canadian opportunity to watch Vimy Flight – Birth of a Nation aircraft overhead in 2017. A 14 Wing open house May 6 launched a season of cross-Canada public events through 2017.
The Vimy Flight aircraft most recently participated in April 9 commemorative ceremonies in Vimy, France, including a flyby of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. A Royal Canadian Air Force C17 carried the Vimy Flight aircraft home from France April 21, unloading at 14 Wing Greenwood. Also part of the Vimy Flight formation are two Sopwith Pups and one SE5.
“Flying over Vimy – probably the highlight of my career,” said pilot Allan Snowe of Washington State, an Air Cadet many years ago, a Canadian Navy man, and then a 33-year Air Canada pilot.
“I got the chance to fly a few days before April 9’s events solo over Vimy – and it was a good thing I was alone, because I was crying.”
Moncton pilot Larry Ricker agrees with the experience: “We did four practice flights before April 9, and they were terrible, but I know that day we had thousands of souls there in the ground, giving us the ability to give everyone at the ceremony the experience of their lives. It was a perfect day, and we heard so many moving stories from people afterwards.”
Ricker, a 21-year Air Force member and now an Air Canada pilot, was heading out May 7 on a flight to Tokyo at the controls of a 777.
“Just a little different from this,” he said, leaning against the Nieuport II.
“This would fit under the 777’s fuselage. You get in this, you turn the key and the biggest thing you have to do is pretend to be doing something more when you’re really not. There are about seven dials.”
Knowing thousands of “boys and men flew these things at 17 years old, with just five or 10 training hours and no parachute…. They said, ‘Go get ‘em,’ and they did.”
The commemorative formation was heading next to 12 Wing Shearwater, then airfields in Stanley and Debert; then on to Summerside. For details on the aircraft, schedules and the Vimy Flight – Birth of a Nation project, visit vimyflight.ca.