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Local family has close ties to Snowbirds

A local family of fliers has close ties to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds demonstration team.

Kent Pietsch and his wife Marney, and Warren Pietsch and his wife Jolene are close friends of the Snowbirds.

“They’re just part of the family,” said Warren Pietsch of the Snowbirds team on Monday.

Local friends and fans of the Snowbirds learned that one of the team’s planes crashed on Sunday in British Columibia, killing crew member Capt. Jennifer Casey, the team’s public affairs officer, and injuring Capt. Richard MacDougall, the pilot.

The Snowbirds were on a weekslong operation called Operation Inspiration to pay tribute to victims of COVID-19 and the front-line workers battling the virus.

Casey was in Minot with the team most recently this past June when the Snowbirds performed for the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s 75th anniversary of D-Day observance.

McDougall was not in Minot for that event but stopped through the city last fall, Warren Pietsch said.

“Casey was a really fine person,” said Kent Pietsch. “She was fun, efficient and did her job well.”

The Pietsch family’s ties with the Snowbirds goes back to the team’s beginning in the 1970s. The late Al Pietsch, Kent’s and Warren’s dad and longtime Minot pilot, as well as Kent and Warren all are honorary Snowbirds. “It’s a huge honor,” Kent Pietsch said.

Besides taking part in the D-Day observance at the air museum last year, the Snowbirds have performed numerous times at air shows in Minot and at Minot Air Force Base.

Following the 2011 Souris River flood, the Snowbirds presented a benefit air show at the Minot International Airport on July 4, 2012. In fall 2011, the Snowbirds gave an impromptu air show over Minot during a stop in the city, also toured flood damage and then decided to return for a show.

Officially known as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds team is based about 265 miles northwest of Minot at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

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