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Final preparations underway for North Bay’s Armed Forces Day

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Final preparations are underway for the Armed Forces Day celebration at North Bay’s Shabogesic Beach on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Armed Forces parachute team known as the Skyhawks, the CF-18 demo team and the CF Snowbirds touched down at the Jack Garland Airport.

The Skyhawks jumped out of their plane to test their gear and to check the wind conditions. They are raring to go.

“This is my first year in North Bay,” said Skyhawks Demonstrator Corporal Benjamin Barrett.

“But as a team, it means a lot to us to have shows like North Bay that keep inviting us back year after year.”

Master Corp. Sabrina Cloutier is one of two female parachute riggers in the entire Armed Forces. Cloutier recalls joining the military five years ago as a supply technician but transferred to the Skyhawks to follow her dream.

“The adrenaline rush is really there,” she said.

“It’s not like a roller coaster. With a roller coaster, your heart stays up and when you jump out of a plane, you have the wind that catches up.”

When the fan-favourite Snowbirds arrived in the city, they performed a short aerial manoeuvre for all those who heard the roar of the plane engines.

The snowbirds haven’t flown in North Bay’s military celebration day since 2019. They were scheduled to attend in 2022, but a last-second technical issue prevented them from taking off.

North Bay holds one of the largest Armed Forces Day celebrations in the country. This year marks 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

North Bay holds one of the largest Armed Forces Day celebrations in the country. This year marks 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

“It’s always a bit of a disappointment when we can’t put on a show for people, whether it’s maintenance or weather, but we’re very excited now,” said Snowbirds 7 pilot Cpt. Dominic Appolloni.

The CF-18 demonstration team was busy refueling and going over final checks and inspections to ensure a smooth flyover.

Known for its high rate of speed, the aircraft will be twisting and turning over a crowd that’s expected to be in the thousands.

'Absolute extremes'

“You’re going to see this airplane go to the absolute extremes that a fighter jet can do,” said pilot Cpt. Caleb ‘Tango’ Robert.

“Every now and then during the routine, I get maybe five seconds or so to actually look outside. It’s always great to see the crowds down there.”

North Bay holds one of the largest Armed Forces Day celebrations in the country. This year marks 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

It’s held to recognize members of the Canadian military and the United States Air Force who, as part of NORAD, have supported the Canadian Air Defence Sector at 22Wing/Canadian Forces Base North Bay for more than 70 years.

“Our day job is flying the planes, but meeting and interacting with the public and inspiring the next generation is what it’s all about,” said Appolloni.

The event will run from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. with performances by the 22 Wing Band and other static displays. All activities and entertainment are free to the public.

Memorial Drive will be closed from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Parking will be available at municipal lots 2 and 10 on Oak Street, near the North Bay Museum and North Bay Transit Terminal.

Accessible parking will be available at the Waterfront and those attending are encouraged to wear red or blue.

To ensure safety, the entire North Bay Waterfront will be a ‘no drone zone’ during the event.

For more information about Armed Forces Day, including a digital poster, click here.

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