VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Four-year-old Ethan Fritz waves at his dad with his mom Alyssa, from the end of White Rock Pier. Pilot TK Minzak – who flies reserve for the U.S. Air Force, organized the fly-by after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)Four-year-old Ethan Fritz waves at his dad with his mom Alyssa, from the end of White Rock Pier. Pilot TK Minzak – who flies reserve for the U.S. Air Force, organized the fly-by after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Ethan Fritz, 4, had a message for his dad, pilot TK Minzak Friday (Aug. 7). (Tracy Holmes photo)Ethan Fritz, 4, had a message for his dad, pilot TK Minzak Friday (Aug. 7). (Tracy Holmes photo)
Four-year-old Ethan Fritz looks for the incoming U.S. Air Force transport plane piloted by his dad TK Minzak, who organized a fly-by of the White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning, after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)Four-year-old Ethan Fritz looks for the incoming U.S. Air Force transport plane piloted by his dad TK Minzak, who organized a fly-by of the White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning, after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
A U.S. Air Force C17, piloted by Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, flies over White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning. (Star Hannah photo)A U.S. Air Force C17, piloted by Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, flies over White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning. (Star Hannah photo)
VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation
Ethan Fritz, his mom and other family members watch as the C17 transport plane piloted by Ethan’s dad returns to U.S. skies. (Tracy Holmes photo)Ethan Fritz, his mom and other family members watch as the C17 transport plane piloted by Ethan’s dad returns to U.S. skies. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Friday was a big day for Surrey youngster Ethan Fritz – after months of separation due to pandemic-related border restrictions, he got to see his daddy.

Well, sort of.

One thing is for certain: the visit – in the form of a U.S. Air Force transport plane over White Rock Pier – caught the attention of waterfront residents and visitors.

Acknowledging it likely took at least a few people off-guard – one woman who called Peace Arch News described the unexpected sighting of the “huge” craft as “so close… so scary” – Ethan’s mom Alyssa Fritz said there simply wasn’t time to spread the word in advance.

“I was in-between if it was a good or a bad idea,” she said. “I couldn’t pass it up, my son seeing his dad.

“We all went out of our way to make it happen.”

Four-year-old Ethan has only seen his dad, Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, through video calls since his birthday in early March, Fritz explained, and the separation has been difficult for someone so young to understand.

“When you’re four, it’s really hard,” she said.

“With the way things are and just the job that his dad does… it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to see him anytime soon.”

Minzak, who is originally from Texas, is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and flies reserve for the U.S. Air Force, Fritz continued. Pre-pandemic, she and Ethan routinely travelled to Seattle for family visits.

But that all came to an end in March.

READ MORE: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

Thursday night, however, Fritz received news that Minzak had organized a special visit for Ethan – permission to do a low-level fly-by of the White Rock Pier in the C17 transport plane he was piloting for a training exercise.

Ethan, his mom and several family members gathered at the end of the pier for the occasion. Minzak was to approach from the direction of Point Roberts and make two passes before returning to U.S. air space.

As the plane appeared in the distance, the excitement built.

“Look, just for you,” Fritz exclaimed to Ethan as the plane came in for its first pass and did a ‘wing wiggle’ greeting. “He’s waving.”

After, Fritz said Ethan couldn’t wait to share the experience with his friends at daycare.

“He was just so happy and excited,” she said.

“It’s not like a deployment,” she noted of Minzak’s absence. “It’s like, his dad is right there and we just can’t get to him.

“Today, it was like a visual – ‘my daddy’s there.’”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronaviruswhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Wolf photo by Brian Hay
2020 hunting season review and wildlife update: Part III

This is Part III of a three-part series by F.J. Hurtak, looking at the issues of the 2020 hunting and wildlife management season

1914
It happened this week in 1914

Jan. 10 - 16: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Piling in place along Innis Avenue in Cranbrook, part of the new Broadstreet Properties development. David Humphrey photo
Innis Avenue to close to all traffic starting January 18

Avenue facing new development will be closed from Monday, Jan. 18 to Thursday, Jan. 21, for sewer connection

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read