The Canadian Forces Snowbirds
The Canadian Forces (CF) Snowbirds, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron are a Canadian icon comprised of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and National Defence Public Service employees.
Pilots, technicians (aviation, avionics, aircraft structure, supply), mobile support operators, resource management support clerks, an engineering officer, a logistics officer and a public affairs officer representing all three elements (Army, Navy and Air Force), work as a team to bring thrilling performances to the Canadian public. Serving as ambassadors of the CAF, the CF Snowbirds demonstrate the high level of skill, professionalism, teamwork, discipline and dedication inherent in the men and women of the CAF and they inspire the pursuit of excellence wherever they go in North America.
CAPTAIN BRIAN KILROY
Born in Grande Prairie, Alberta Captain Kilroy spent his childhood in Stony Plain, Alberta, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in chemical engineering.
The son of an RCMP officer, he was strongly supported to pursue his aviation dreams by his mother, who also shared his love for aviation. He attended numerous airshows throughout his childhood where he even had the chance to see the CF-18 Demonstration Team perform, which further inspired him to follow his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.
Captain Kilroy was a member the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Stony Plain before deciding to pursue his dream of flying and joining the RCAF in 2006. He was later given the opportunity to attend the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program in Witchita Falls, Texas, where he went on to fulfill his lifelong dream of receiving his RCAF pilot’s wings.
Following flight training, he was posted to 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, as an operational fighter pilot in 2013. Captain Kilroy has actively served throughout Canada on the Hornet in support of NORAD and has deployed numerous times on international NATO and Canadian Armed Forces missions.
Today, Captain Kilroy is a four-ship lead and qualified Electronic Warfare Instructor with 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, using his combat and operational experience to train the next generation of CF-18 pilots.
“Being chosen to represent the Royal Canadian Air Force as the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Pilot is a true honour and I can’t wait to meet the rest of my team and start the season,” said Captain Kilroy. “To me this year’s theme really is a call to action and an amazing opportunity to inspire the next generation. We’re challenging ourselves and Canadians to keep pushing the limits of what is possible and to keep innovating. I hope that this summer our team will inspire Canadians to think and dream big while also demonstrating the impressive capabilities of their Air Force.”
Based on the RCAF’s motto Sic Itur Ad Astra (Latin for “such is the pathway to the stars”), the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team will celebrate the history of the RCAF, recognize the innovative and driven Canadians who have led the charge for change and stand ready to inspire a new generation to take up the flame of innovation and help shape the RCAF’s pathway to the stars.
The 2019 season also provides an opportunity to highlight the RCAF’s operational role within NATO, a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary
Flying has been a part of Bud’s life since he was 9 years old. He and his brothers were playing when they saw a Tiger Moth biplane glide to a landing on their uncle’s farm. They ran to see the plane, and were amazed to find that their Dad was the pilot. He had secretly earned his flying license. Bud and his two brothers were hooked on aviation after that. Their father made a career of flying, and saw his three children begin their lives in aviation.
Bud joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1956 after earning his wings with a Royal Canadian Air Cadet scholarship. He was awarded honor scrolls at basic, and advanced flying schools in the flying the T-6 and T-33. He served 3 years flying the F-86 Sabre in Baden-Baden, Germany. He was a member of the Canadian gunnery team which won the NATO competition for the third straight year.
Bud then instructed on the T-6 Harvard at Red Deer Alberta. He was selected to be the base solo demonstration pilot on the Harvard, thus starting his career as an airshow pilot. A civilian who had purchased a World War 11 surplus P-40 for $150 asked Bud to fly his plane at local airshows. This was Bud’s introduction to WW2 type aircraft. Bud became an A-1 instructor, and served in Standards flight and as base instrument check pilot.
Bud lives in Bellevue Washington. He flew for United Airlines until retiring in 1997. He has six children.; three of them served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Two flew with the Snowbird aerobatic team, and are now airline pilots. Ross flies with United, Chris with Air Canada. Deb flies the 737 for Alaska Airlines. Bob chose the Navy, and is now a Captain with BC Ferries, but also ferries the T-6 or Yak-55 to airshows.
Ross Granley comes from a large family of pilots that include grandparents, uncles, parents, cousins, brothers, and sister Deb, and wife, Shari. He was born in Red Deer, Alberta Canada in 1963, A Royal Canadian Air Force base, where his father was instructing on the Harvard/T-6
The third of six children, Ross showed an early love of flying and a strong desire to make it his life’s ambition. Ross joined the Canadian Air Force in 1985. He received his wings in 1987, then instructed in the Canadair CT-114 Tutor aircraft in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. This aircraft is still used by the Snowbirds. He earned his A2 Instructor’s rating, then was selected to fly as #2 with the Snowbird’s 1990 and 1991 team. After his tour of duty with the Snowbirds he moved on to fighters at Cold Lake, Alberta. He underwent basic and advanced fighter pilot training in the CF-5 and CF-18. He earned top honors in both courses then flew the CF-18 with 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron for three years. In 1996 Ross was selected as a team member for Canada’s participation in the William Tell air combat competition. This included teams from all commands in the US Air Force. Canada swept the competition in nearly all categories including top team.
In 1997 with 3,100 hours military flight time, Ross, his wife Shari and son Gregory, transitioned to life as civilians. They moved to Everett, Washington where Ross lives while working as a pilot with United Air Lines, based in SFO Ross purchased a Yak-18T in Moscow which he flies in a formation aerobatic routine. The Yak-55, flown by his dad Bud, and the Yak-18T make an unlikely and unbelievably entertaining act.
Born in small town Wyevale, Ontario, Brent knew from a young age that he wanted to spend his time in the air. Brent’s early flight training was earned through the Air Cadet program. His first solo was in an Air Cadet glider, at age 16. Ten years later, Brent’s dream of becoming a CF-18 Hornet pilot was a reality. And through a fortunate series of events, he was selected to fly as a team pilot with the renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds jet team in 2011.
Following his tour with the Snowbirds in 2012 / 2013, Brent took his air show career to the next level. Purchasing a beautiful Pitts S-2, he had the good fortune of polishing his aerobatic prowess with air show legend Wayne Handley.
2019 will mark Brent’s fifth season as an unrestricted, surface-rated aerobatic performer. Expect an adrenaline-filled, heart-pumping series of tumbles, torque rolls, and loops. The Pitts Special is THE air show airplane to inspire young and old to pursue their passions!
Born and raised in California, Vicky Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer. With over 8000 hours of flight time and over 1200 parachute jumps, Vicky has a passion for everything airborne. Her flying career has spanned more than thirty years and she currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating as well as commercial ratings in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders.
Vicky still remembers her first flight in her uncle’s small airplane when she was just a small child. Inspired by that flight at a very young age, Vicky learned to fly in a family friend’s antique Taylorcraft in her hometown of Watsonville, on the California coast. She was thrilled by the spins, loops, and rolls that her ex- military instructor taught her and subsequently took aerobatic instruction from legendary pilot Amelia Reid.
Vicky’s aerobatic flying took a brief back seat when she earned her PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and began working in the Silicon Valley high tech industry. But her passion for spins, loops, and rolls soon returned when she took an aerobatic flight with air show legend, Wayne Handley.
The Erickson Collection Aircraft:
The Curtiss P-40 was a development of the radial engined P-36/Hawk 75. The prototype XP-40 was a converted P-36A with the R-1830 replaced with an Allison V-1710-19 liquid cooled V-12. First flown in October 1938, the P-40 was evaluated at Wright Field in May 1939 resulting in an order for 524 aircraft.
Early P-40s were equipped with 2x .50 and 4x .30 caliber machine guns with the .50s mounted above the engine. With the P-40D the engine mounted guns were removed and later P-40s standardized on 6x .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the wings.
Although the P-40 was best known for using the Allison V-1710, the P-40F and P-40L were powered by the Packard V-1650-1 Merlin. The V-1650-1 had a single stage supercharger so it did not have the altitude performance of the P-51 fitted the later V-1650 with a two stage supercharger.
Over 13,700 P-40s had been built by the time production ended in December 1944. Although the P-40 did not have the best performance of its contemporaries, it did have a reputation as a rugged aircraft and it was available when needed.
The P-40 is most famous as the aircraft of General Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group – the Flying Tigers. Their P-40Bs defended China against the Japanese. P-40s also serviced in the Pacific, Middle East and Europe and defended North America in the Aleutians. The P-40 was operated by England, France, China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and Turkey as well as the United States.
The Erickson Collection Aircraft: FM-2 Wildcat
The Grumman Wildcat, first of the Grumman “Cats,” marked the U.S. Navy’s transition from biplanes to the modern era of aircraft carrier borne seapower. The September 1937 prototype was a radical redesign of an earlier Grumman biplane, the F3F. In 1939, an improved version of the aircraft, powered by a supercharged Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp, 1,200 hp. radial engine, performed well and soon went into production at the Grumman plant in Bethpage, Long Island. The Wildcat first became operational with the British Royal Navy, where it was named the Martlet. The British acquired 120 of the aircraft originally ordered by France and Greece, and with additional British orders, the Martlet served the Royal Navy well in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The Wildcat first saw combat with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on7 December 1941. The Wildcat was inferior in many ways to its main rival in the Pacific – the Mitsubishi Zero. The Japanese plane was faster and more maneuverable, but the Wildcat was better armed, sturdier, and carried protection for the fuel supply and pilot, a Japanese omission. Wildcat pilots performed admirably against a superior foe and continued in U.S. service until the end of the War being continually updated and improved. The definitive version, the F4F-4, was armed with six .50 inch machine guns and had a top speed of 318 mph. In May 1943, production of the Wildcat was shifted to General Motors’ Eastern Aircraft Division at Linden, New Jersey. These airplanes were designated FM-1 and FM-2. Together, GM and Grumman produced over 8,000 aircraft. Two interesting features of the Wildcat are wings that fold back along the fuselage to allow for easier carrier storage and the manually operated landing gear. A pilot had to crank a cockpit-mounted wheel 29 times to raise or lower the apparatus.
The Erickson Collection Aircraft:
Republic Aviation’s P-47 Thunderbolt was the biggest and heaviest armed single engine American fighter of World War II. Its sturdy construction and eight 50-caliber machine guns made it equally adaptive as a ground support aircraft or as a bomber escort fighter. P-47s often demonstrated their ruggedness and dependability by returning home with combat damage that would doom any other production fighter. The early P-47 couldn’t match the overall performance of the German fighters it faced in combat, but it could, because of its massive weight, out dive any airplane in the sky. Republic enhanced its performance by improving the turbo supercharger effectiveness in the “D” model and replacing the razor back canopy configuration with the bubble type variant that gave the pilot 360 degree visibility. A total of 15,683 Thunderbolts were built,at an average cost of $96,000, more than any other single engine fighter of the war, the “D” model being most plentiful. The P-47 saw action in every theater proving itself to be a devastating low-level ground attack aircraft and versatile enough to be an effective high altitude escort fighter as well. With its bulky shape, the Jug was a monster of a machine, yet it was fast and maneuverable.
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