Snowbirds' roost here temporarily as Canadian aerobatic team stops for fuel
By Victoria Grabner
Evansville Courier & Press
Posted October 18, 2012 at 8:30 p.m.

The Canadian Snowbirds landed unexpectedly at the Henderson City-County Airport Tuesday. Here is a photo of the planes from the precision aerial team lined up at the local facility.
Furnished photo by Kimber Heddens

There was likely an "O Canada" moment at the Henderson City-County Airport on Tuesday. That's because nine jets that are part of the Canadian Air Force "Snowbirds" aerobatic team refueled at the local airport that day in an unannounced visit that brought in more than $10,000 in sales.

"This team is the equivalent to the Thunderbirds (and the) Blue Angels," said Steve Parker, a member of the Kentucky Aviation Association. "I've seen them many times and they are awesome!"

The Canadian Snowbirds landed unexpectedly at the Henderson County Airport Tuesday. According to the local airport's website, the Snowbirds Demonstration Team is a Canadian icon comprised of serving members of the Canadian Forces.  The Snowbirds were in Henderson because their season was over, and they were on their way home to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  "They stopped in Henderson to refuel," the website said. "Fortunately, we had enough ramp space and new, full, high-speed fuel tanks to accommodate them."

Despite the airport staff's best efforts to provide them snacks, coffee and soft drinks, the Snowbirds were on a mission to return to base. "So as soon as they attended to the needs of the equipment and personnel, they kicked the tires and lit the fires, each flight of three leaving at about 10-minute intervals, just as they (had) arrived," the website said. It was unclear, the website said, why the Snowbirds selected Henderson's airport over airports in Evansville and Owensboro, "we just tried to give them our best and invited them back any time."

Furnished photos by Kimber Heddens

Scott Miller, airport board member, said he believes the jets took in 225 gallons each or roughly 2,025 gallons of fuel total. He added that the airport could not have accommodated the flight team for a quick refueling without the new fuel farm. He added that he asked the Don Davis Aviation line man manager if the old fuel farm could have supported the visitors and was told the crews would have had to check into a hotel before returning the next day.   "The new fuel farm is many times faster for refueling planes/fuel trucks, and much safer," Miller said.

Parker said in an email that was forwarded to The Gleaner that this is an important story not just for Henderson, but for all general aviation airports.  "This is just another example of why investing in general aviation airports is a wise investment indeed," he said.

Dick Wham, a board member, described the Snowbirds' stop in Henderson as a "once in a lifetime visit from a world-famous military aerobatics team. Thanks to all of you who helped in the development of the airport."

For more information on the Snowbirds, visit: snowbirds.