The Abbotsford International Airshow is celebrating its 57th year, but Saturday features a first for the event and for airshows in general.
Saturday marks the first time ever that both the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the USAF Thunderbirds have a female pilot performing in their ranks.
Capt. Sarah Dallaire of the Snowbirds and Maj. Michelle Curran both take to the skies on Saturday, and the pair are thrilled to see more females entering the cockpit.
Dallaire, a Quebec native, began pilots training back in 2001 when she joined the 776 Air Cadet Squadron. From there she joined the Canadian Armed Forces through the Continuous Education Officer Training Program as a Royal Canadian Airforce pilot in 2007. She was then posted at two Canadian forces flying schools and was also deployed in Kuwait for six months. Dallaire then applied to join the Snowbirds and was selected to join the team in 2017.
Curran, a Wisconsin native, is a 2009 graduate of the University of St. Thomas’s Air Force ROTC program. She also served as an F-16 instructor pilot in Texas and has logged more than 1,200 hours as a pilot, including more than 160 combat hours. This is her first season with the Thunderbirds.
Dallaire is just the second woman ever to perform with the Snowbirds, and said she was inspired by Maryse Carmichael – the first woman to become a Snowbird.
“I was 12 years old and all it took was the first time I heard her name on the PA and she put a flame into my heart,” she told The News on Friday afternoon.
She said never thought she’d become a Snowbird, but she kept pushing and pushing to the next step and realized her dream was in reach.
Curran’s path was similar, with a lot of hard work and pushing to keep reaching the next goal. There have been four other females that have been a member of the Thunderbirds. She said it’s great to see females become more aware and interested in the path she’s taken.
“What’s really cool now is that with social media now people will reach out to me directly and send me messages,” she said. “It’s cool to see tangible results.”
Curran and the Thunderbirds perform at 1:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, while Dallaire and the Snowbirds take to the skies both days at 3:30 p.m.
For more on the show, visit abbotsfordairshow.com.