In 1971, could anyone have foreseen that a request for "unofficial volunteers" to fly in a formation demonstration team, would one day lead to the -formation of a Canadian icon - and a source of pride for all Canadians?
For 35 years, members of the Snowbirds Demonstration Team (431 Squadron) have captivated spectators - more than 116 million to date - with sky-high precision aerobatics that exemplify the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the Canadian Forces.
While military aerobatic flying in Canada began as early as 1929, it wasn't until 1971 that the Snowbirds became an official entity within the Forces. The name "Snowbirds" was the product of a competition held among elementary school children at CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, known today as 15 Wing Moose Jaw: Air Vice-Marshal C.M. McEwen Air Field. "Snowbirds" was born from two ideas: the white-painted Tutors flown by the team, and Anne Murray's popular 1970s song, Snowbird.
In recognition of the Snowbirds renown at thrilling audiences for more than 35 years, Canada Post will issue two domestic rate (51¢) commemorative stamps. Printed in nine colours, the stamps will be available in a pane of 16. A souvenir sheet displaying the two stamps will be released at the same time.
Created by Wade Stewart and Tiit Telmet of Telmet Design Associates, Toronto, the commemoratives capture the beauty, precision and energy of Canada's world-renowned aerobatic flying team - and all in two 48 x 27.5 mm stamps.
"When we started this project, we knew we wanted to do something completely different with the subject matter," says designer Tiit Telmet. "To create a look and feel that would reflect the special characteristics of the Snowbirds."
"The 'different' was very evident in the final product," says Liz Wong, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. "The stamps have a painterly appearance and a canvas-like quality that depicts the Snowbirds in a way never seen before."
"We achieved a painterly palette by manipulating and layering multiple photographs," says Telmet. "In one stamp, we've cut away the pilot and simulated the canopy. By combining images and graphics with subtle, transparent effects, you get a first-hand view of the Snowbirds in flight from a pilot's perspective."
At first glance, the other stamp appears to have only three planes. If you take a closer look, however, you see a number of ghosted planes, representing the Snowbirds' nine-plane formation - a familiar sight on Canada Day and a hallmark of one of the world's most famous flying teams.
When these beautiful Snowbirds commemoratives become available on June 28, just a few days before Canada's birthday, it really won't be a surprise if they fly off the shelves.
For more information about the Snowbirds, visit www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/snowbirds/index.page.