Canadian Forces Snowbirds cancel RI appearance, citing need for practice

With the 2017 Rhode Island National Guard Air Show just days away in Quonset, the Royale Canadian Snowbirds have canceled their appearance due to “an internal safety standown."

With the 2017 Rhode Island National Guard Air Show just days away at Quonset State Airport, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds have canceled their appearance, citing safety.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Snowbirds said the team needs additional practice and training before resuming public performances.

"A reduced training period hampered by poor weather which continued into the show season, resulted in numerous cancelled practices. As a result, more training is required before the Snowbirds resume the 2017 schedule," said Maj. Patrick Gobeil, Snowbirds Team Lead.

The Snowbirds "intend to return to the air show circuit once we have the consistency required for our dynamic nine-aircraft aerobatic performance," the Facebook post said.

The team will return to its home base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for training.

The Snowbirds also canceled an appearance in Rochester, New York, set for Wednesday.

"Initially, everybody is disappointed,” Col. Pete Parente of the Rhode Island Army National Guard told NBC 10. "The disappointment suddenly turns to understanding because we're all in the military business and there are a lot of dangerous things we do and safety is always a priority."

But some show enthusiasts aren't happy.

"That's a shame," Debbie Scambio of North Kingstown said. "Hopefully, they won't ask them anymore and the Blue Angels will come all the time."

Still, crowds are expected in the thousands.

That's why safety and security is a top priority for those running the show.

Guests can bring cameras and video recorders into the event, but there’s a long list of things that need to be left at home.

"There's no bags, no coolers, no pets, no alcohol, no weapons,” Air National Guard Lt. Jason Cooke told NBC 10 News.

The free train service will return this year, with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the MBTA adding more trains and pick-up locations.

Trains will leave about every hour out of Providence, Warwick, and Wickford.

If it rains, some flying demonstrations might be delayed. But unless there's lightning, the air show will continue.

Despite the near three decades of air-show performances, each year, organizers attempt to make it more special than the year before.

"There's different aircraft, there's different performances,” said Cooke. “(It’s) something that is organic, and we try to grow, and make it better and better."

Security coordination continues with different law enforcement agencies on site to help. Despite the list of long logistical efforts to make the airshow run smoothly, and enjoyable to those watching the performance, it’s an event many are looking forward to.

“I'm most excited to see the look on people's face when they come in and see what we have to offer,” said Cooke. “Makes it all worth it when we see families having fun and enjoying all that we have to offer.”

A press release notes that the show will feature “many outstanding performers,” including the much anticipated newcomer, Randy Ball flying a Soviet Era MiG-17.

“Adding to the dynamic combined arms display, this year the audience will be awed by the nation’s premier attack helicopter, the AH-64 Apache and the venerable CH-47 Chinook helicopter as it transports a Rhode Island National Guard 155 millimeter howitzer to show center,” the release notes. “We are also excited to welcome back award winning performers Sean D. Tucker, Mike Goulian, Rob Holland, the Geico Skytypers, the Jack Link’s Screamin’ Sasquatch and the Shockwave Jet Truck. Our military demonstrations include the USAF F-16 Viper Demo, the USN F/A-18 Super Hornet, and the USMC AV/8B Harrier.”

The show takes fight Saturday and Sunday.

Click here to learn more about train schedules.

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