Flying high as a bird

By Joel Charron

James Pouget got the ride of his life when the Snowbirds came to town recently.

Pouget, the 2010 recipient of the Webster Memorial Trophy, took part in a professional development day with the Snowbird Aerobatic Team when they were in town for Windsor’s 2011 Air Show Sept. 11.

“It was amazing, nothing in the world will compare,” said Pouget. “Their flying is so precise and coordinated, it’s unbelievable.”

The Snowbirds Demonstration Team (431 Squadron) is a Canadian icon comprised of serving members of the Canadian Forces. Their pilots and technicians work as a team to bring thrilling performances to the North American public. Serving as Canadian ambassadors, the Snowbirds demonstrate the high level of professionalism, teamwork, excellence, discipline and dedication inherent in the women and men of the Royal Air Force and the Canadian Forces.

The day with the Snowbird was part of Pouget’s prize when he won the Webster

Using an IPhone, Pouget snapped a photo of himself in the cockpit while flying with the Snowbirds.

Memorial Trophy last year. The Webster Memorial Trophy Competition is an annual event committed to declaring the “Top Amateur Pilot in Canada”

Before Pouget was able to go up in the plane, he had to be put through a series of tests and training.

On Thursday, Sept. 8 Pouget arrived at a Windsor Airport conference room, where he was joined by three other participants who were also being treated to a day with the Snowbirds.

Pouget was put through a medical physical, which was conducted by the Snowbirds flight surgeon, than Pouget was fitted for a flight suit.

Once that was complete, the young pilot sat through a few hours of seat ejection and parachute deployment training for the flight the next morning.

On Friday, Sept. 9, Pouget arrived at the airport for his flight with the Snowbirds.

“I was really excited, no nerves at all,” explained Pouget. “The excitement just kept building the whole time.”

They took to the air approximately 10 a.m. and stayed in the air for roughly 45 minutes.

“Everything was done in formation, takeoff to touchdown,” said Pouget.

According to Pouget, while in formation the Snowbirds fly at 250 knots (460km/h) and hit a top speed of 360 knots (670km/h) when “bombing” around.

Pouget wasn’t only a passenger, Capt. Marco Rusconi allowed him to take control of the plane.

“He let me fly not only when we were bombing around but also in wide formation, six/eight feet away from the other planes,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d get that opportunity.”

Pouget called his time with the Snowbird a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Pouget is currently a flight instructor at Oshawa Airport.

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