People in Minot might have caught a glimpse of an impromptu air show Tuesday afternoon.
A group of CT-114 Tutor jets, in V-formation, sailed through the sky around 12:30 p.m., leaving a trail of smoke in their wake. Those jets soon came in for a landing at the Minot Aero Center where they parked in a precise line.
They were a sample of the Snowbirds, an airflight demonstration team from Canada, who recently did a show in Houston, Texas. While on their way back to Moose Jaw, where on Friday they will perform their last show of the year, they decided to make a pit stop in the Magic City to show support to their southern neighbors.
ABOVE: A line of CT-114 Tutor jets line the runway at the Minot Aero Center Tuesday. The jets belong to the Snowbirds, a flight demonstration team from Canada, who were in town Tuesday to show support for Minot.
James C. Falcon/MDN
"We were trying to put something together just to provide a little bit of mutual support, something we could do short-term on the way home," said Maj. Chris Hope, the Snowbird's team lead. "We wanted to come in here and show the support to the local community for everything they've gone through. It's not economic, it's not anything else, but hopefully if it lifts people's spirits a little bit, it will get them through the next little bit, because I know there has been a lot of heartache locally."
The members of the team saw that heartache first hand, while brothers Kent and Warren Pietsch, the latter of the two owning the Minot Aero Center, and Wendy Howe and Elle DesLauriers with the Minot Convention and Visitors Bureau, took the team on a tour of the devastated areas during their two-hour visit to Minot.
"Their reactions were...how can you say? Dismay?" Kent Pietsch said. "Sad to see what's happening in Minot."
The Snowbirds are made up of a squadron of 85, however, Hope's detachment that visited Minot numbered 24. There are 11 airplanes with two people in each, plus "a semi truck that chases me around that has two people in it, also," he explained.
Hope, who as lived in Moose Jaw for 12 years, noted the relationship between Minot and Moose Jaw. The two are sister cities.
"To be able to travel down here and have that relationship with the city has always been great," he said.
Hope also alluded to a potential project involving the Snowbirds that could help the city.
"Right now, Kent (Pietsch) has been talking with local individuals here, trying to put a benefit air show together," Hope said. "We were trying to do something this fall, but unfortunately, it didn't work out with our timelines."
"We're trying to get an air show going," with raising money for Minot being the primary focus, said Pietsch, of Burlington. Pietsch is also an honorary Snowbird "one of the first," he said, adding: "They're a great bunch of guys."
However, Hope added that the timing just isn't right for an air show at this moment. The Snowbirds plan their schedules one to two years in advance, he said.
"We've had such great relationships with the community here that if I had anything to say, I'd be back down here in a heartbeat," he said.
"It'll be up to our force if we can provide that support, depending on the timing. I'm very hopeful," Hope added. Unfortunately, it isn't his decision. "The decision will have to be made by our Air Force headquarters. They're the ones that have the final approval of our schedule."
Hope explained that unless there is a cancellation, doing something short term is "normally difficult," but optimistically, he noted, "I will never say it's not going to happen."