Skyhawks winging North
Precision team to visit Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet ( May 29/00) - There will be a number of strange and unusual sights in Nunavut skies this coming week.

The Canadian Forces Parachute Team, the Skyhawks, will be appearing in Iqaluit on June 1 and 2 and Rankin Inlet from June 3 to 4.

Capt. J.M. Brault says the Nunavut visit was organized through the CAF's Millennium Co-ordination office in Ottawa and is aimed at bringing high visibility to demonstration teams across Canada.

This will be the Skyhawks' first trip to Nunavut since division.

The shows will feature 14 members of the Skyhawks team and a Buffalo search and rescue aircraft based out of Comox, B.C.

"Our speciality is canopy-relative work, which is acrobatic manoeuvres under the actual parachute, linking up together and doing various acrobatic formations in the air," says Brault.

"We will be doing this at below 4,000 feet, low enough for spectators to actually witness it."

The group will jump out of the plane 12,500 feet above sea level and free fall for about 8,000 feet.

"On a clear day, everyone starts off as little dots and then come clearly into view.

"In the case of a four-way formation, spectators will see everybody taking off at opposed angles.

"With smoke, it's an adrenaline rush for those doing it and quite spectacular for the spectators to see."

The Skyhawks will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2001.

Originally formed in 1969, the team was comprised of sport parachute-qualified members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.

Their first show was held in June 1969, at CFB Petawawa, Ont.

At that time, the team was known only as the Canadian Airborne Regiment Parachute Team.

In October 1970, that changed to the Canadian Forces Parachute Team, which remains its official name.

The team attended the 1971 world parachute championships in France, and won a silver medal in the accuracy event.

Shortly afterward, the name Skyhawks became the team's moniker.

"The Skyhawks are more of a commercialized name, like the Snowbirds," says Brault. "Who knows the Snowbirds are the 431 Squadron? They're known as the Snowbirds and it's the same situation for the Skyhawks."