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Warriors fly with the Snowbirds

Four players from the WHL squad took to the air with 431 Air Demonstration Squadron
Four members of the Moose Jaw Warriors had the experience of a lifetime as they took to the air with 431 Air Demonstration Squadron – better known as the Snowbirds – on Tuesday morning.

Tristin Langan, Brodan Salmond, Justin Almeida and Luke Ormsby all took part in the special training flight, an annual event that offers members of the team a chance to experience just what it's like to be part of and fly with one of the best airshow teams in the world.

“It was an incredible experience, right from watching them and their professionalism going over everything and their plans for getting in the air,” Langan said. “Then finally suiting up and getting in there, it's wild the things they do and how close they are together... you always have to work as a team, you have to trust each other up there because you can't make a mistake. It's really cool.”

As Langan alluded to, Warriors were able to take part in essentially the full Snowbirds experience, right from their ground preparation to full-on formation flying. And, as could be expected, there's a lot to it.

“We didn't go up with them the first day but we were able to go through the whole process about learning about getting strapped in and the ejection seat and all that stuff,” Salmond said. “That was really cool to see and then we got to go up the next day. That was a pretty surreal moment the whole time we were in the air, we were able to just take it all in.”

It isn't often that one has a chance to fly in a modified jet fighter and with the opportunity came all sorts of nerves leading up to the event.

“I think we were all really nervous, but once we got up there and did some formation stuff it was easier to relax more,” Langan said. “The pilots were really cool about telling us what they were going to do so once we were going it was a lot of fun.”

Salmond felt much the same way, even if the air isn't his favourite place to be.

“I'm not even good with commercial flights or roller coasters or anything like that,” he said with a laugh. “But once you're up there it isn't too bad.”

The pilots naturally put the players through their paces with some of their maneuvers, especially some of the high G-force turns and rolls.

“We went three Gs at the start and he asked if I was alright and I said 'yeah,' then all of a sudden he was pulling five Gs and I was stuck in my seat and couldn't move. It was awesome,” Langan said, adding that the special G-suit designed to keep pilots conscious in hard rolls and turns took its toll. “My legs were so sore when I got off I couldn't even walk.”

“That was really cool, I don't know how to describe it, it's a pretty unique feeling,” added Salmond. “Just a lot of pressure on your body and once you're upside down in a loop it kind of goes away and you're floating. It was pretty fun.”

Having a chance to see the kind of precision flying the Snowbirds do on a day-to-day basis was especially impressive.

“It definitely opened my eyes to all the stuff... I didn't even know they flew that close, you look out the window and it's like you can almost touch the other plane,” Salmond said. “And they said they weren't even as close as they usually are in their shows, so that was crazy to me.”

The entire experience was one Langan couldn't recommend enough.

“If I could go up again it would be awesome, I was telling the younger guys that if you get asked to go up, take the opportunity because it's really incredible, a once in a lifetime thing,” he said.