They may have lacked the speed and style and wow factor of the Snowbirds, but about a dozen local pilots flew over Essex County Thursday evening to pay tribute to local front-line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, Windsor Flying Club and Journey Air came together for the flight, which after takeoff from Windsor Airport headed over Leamington and continued over Kingsville, Leamington, Amherstburg, LaSalle, Windsor, Tecumseh and Lakeshore.
“It’s actually not an original idea,” said CHAA acting president Don Christopher.
“There is a group of about 35 aircraft in British Columbia who, because Snowbirds had cancelled the rest of Operation Inspiration because they couldn’t finish the tour they decided to fly around the rest of southern B.C. as a tribute to the pilot and public relations officer Capt. Jenn Casey.”
Operation Inspiration was a cross-Canada tour by the Snowbirds to boost national morale in light of the pandemic. The tour was cut short on Sunday after the plane Casey was in plunged to the ground leaving her deceased and her partner in hospital.
“So we thought let’s do something here, they never made it this far this year, and we’ve got enough pilots,” Christopher said.
“We had a lot of people say ‘god I wish we’d known earlier or we would have signed up for it as well.’
Christopher said the whole event I was put together rather quickly.
“It’s a tribute to all our front-line workers, a thank you from all of us and the general aviation community around Windsor to them and definitely to Capt. Jenn Casey and to he partner Richard MacDougall, who is in hospital.”