The Snowbirds, Pearls on a String. Photo by The Department of National Defence.
Canadian military formation aerobatic teams have played a distinguished part in their military aviation history. Since the inception of the "Siskins" in the 1930's there have been many teams, all of whom have exemplified the skill and proficiency common to Canadian Air Force pilots and ground crew. The Golden Hawks and Golden Centennaires are still remembered by many people who enjoyed their exciting aerobatic displays. These teams received world-wide recognition, and their members were proud ambassadors of the men and women of the Canadian military. The Snowbirds, while performing before millions of spectators across North America, are honoured to carry on the fine traditions established by their forerunners.
The Snowbirds fly the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, a Canadian built jet used by the Canadian Forces as its basic pilot training aircraft until 2000. The Tutor weighs approximately 7170 lbs (3260 kgs) and is powered by a J-85 engine producing 2,700 pounds of thrust. Top speed of the aircraft, with smoke tanks attached, is 412 knots (470 mph or 750 km/h).
The basic Tutor is only slightly modified for use by the Snowbirds. Modifications include: a smoke generating system, a unique paint scheme for added crowd appeal, and a highly tuned engine to enhance engine response in low level flying.
With its high manoeuverability and relatively slow speed, the Tutor is ideally suited to the formation and aerobatic roles of the Snowbirds.