You might say she was born to fly – Snowbird Capt. Sarah Dalaire has been comfortable in the air since long before she can even remember.
She credits her early passion for aviation to her parents, who piloted planes as a hobby.
“I can’t even remember, I see the pictures and I’m in the car seat in the plane,” she said, explaining her earliest memory of flying was when she was about five years old.
“But my mom was very active so even when she was pregnant with me she was flying, so I think it’s always been in my veins,” Dalaire commented.
Fast-forward years later, she is in her premiere season with the iconic Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Squadron known as the Snowbirds. Dalaire is also the second woman to be accepted to the elite squad in its 48-year history.
“It just happens to be that I’m second, I wish there were more between my mentor and myself,” Dalaire commented.
“When I was 12, I saw Maryse Carmichael and she was the first female Snowbird pilot at that time and she had an air show in Quebec City – my hometown – and I just remember you know, being mesmerized and watching her fly.”
It was Carmichael’s story that first inspired Dalaire to dream of joining Snowbirds and now she hopes to carry on that tradition for other young girls because she knows it works.
“What I really love about the military is that if you work hard and you know where you want to go you will get there,” Dalaire said, explaining that she first applied to the Canadian Forces to be a pilot at the age of 17.
By her third application, Dalaire was successful, joining the Canadian Forces through the officer training program in 2007. She received her military pilot wings in 2012 and in 2014 she spent six months deployed to Kuwait in Operation IMPACT.
She first came to 15 Wing Moose Jaw air base as a flight instructor where she was able to log enough hours in the air to submit her name to the Snowbirds last February.
Sometimes when she walks out to her jet Dalaire admits it still feels a bit surreal to be living this dream, but she and her fellow squadron members are constantly focused on improving their skills.
“We’re all kind of addicted to becoming better and that’s really what I’m trying to strive to do every time,” Dalaire explained.
From the ground spectators see the whole show, but she thinks of each manoeuvre separately. She said the way people react to each show is incredible.
She describes her fellow squadron pilots as having a neat dynamic because they all came from different backgrounds to follow the same dream.
“To have the chance to represent the CF (Canadian Forces) and all the members of the CF with our skills, professionalism and teamwork is such an honour.”
For a complete schedule of public air shows across North America you can check the Snowbirds website. As always the Snowbirds will close out their summer air show season in Moose Jaw in October.