Northern snowbird
Northern military pilot to perform with Snowbirds

Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 30/98) - Patrick Ouellet remembers watching his first air show as a young cadet in Quebec City and wishing he would someday fly with the Canadian Forces aerobatic demonstration team.

Now, after 10 years in the military, the Northern pilot has been chosen to perform as one of two solo pilots for the Snowbirds at air shows across Canada and the U.S. for the next two years.

"You don't want to get your hopes up, but you do have dreams," he said.

A 440 Squadron pilot for the past three years, Ouellet has flown the entire span of the territories and has been in and out of most NWT communities to provide support for Northern area Rangers, while based out of Yellowknife.

"We'll miss it here," he said, speaking for both himself and his wife Patricia.

He maintains that his assignment to fly in formation with the Snowbirds is completely different than flying twin otters in the Arctic.

"The only thing the same is that you're in the air," he added.

Ouellet, 29, who has spent the last two months training in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan training on a CL 41 Tutor jet, has already done a flypast with the Snowbirds for the Grey Cup last week.

"It's like a dream come's hard to realize I'm there," he said.

A former military jet flight instructor, Ouellet is looking forward to the challenge of learning the rigorous flying manoeuvres.

"...the challenge, the precision formations, aerobatics," he said. "We learn how to do basic level stuff like this during our military pilot training -- this is more advanced," he said.

For the next two years, he will be training in the winter months and performing more than 130 shows.

Ouellet returned to the North last week to pack before he officially moves out of the territories.