Aviation is a small community. Whether civilian or military, we are a family and we are all Canadians. On the evening of the accident, the BC General Aviation Association (BCGA) reached out to its members to gauge interest in conducting a mass single file fly over of the Vancouver area the next day, in an effort to pay respect to the fallen Snowbird and to do our part as an aviation family to complete their mission in an effort to raise the spirits of Canadians.
On Monday May 18th 3 flights of BC aviators took off to pay tribute to the Snowbirds and to do their part to finish the team's mission. Ten aircraft flew over Kelowna lead by Trevor Jones. Another ten aircraft paid tribute over the Sea to Sky corridor lead by Colette Morin and Alexis Thind. Lastly, a group of thirty-one aircraft lead by Ryan Van Haren, Fred Carey and Henry Ilg departed Abbotsford and toured the Lower Mainland.
It is important note that this act of solidarity and respect was not about the pilots that took part but rather about recognizing the Canadian Snowbirds, remembering Capt. Jenn Casey and uplifting Canadians.
Response of the media and the public was overwhelming. It is apparent by the coverage that it received as well as the hundreds of posts on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter with the hashtag #operationbackupinspiration.
On behalf of all the pilot in the BC General Aviation Association I wish to give my condolences, gratitude and respect to all those that took part, those that supported the mission and most importantly to the Snowbirds, Capt. McDougall and to the family of Capt. Casey.
With humble gratitude,
Ryan Van Haren