Maj. Michelle Curran of the Thunderbirds and Capt. Sarah Dallaire of the Snowbirds are set to make history this weekend at the Abbotsford International Airshow. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

VIDEO: Female pilots making history at Abbotsford International Airshow

Women flying for the first time with both the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds on Saturday and Sunday

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.

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

Just Posted

Morning Start: Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin

Your morning start for Thursday, June 4, 2020

Kelowna BC SPCA busy throughout pandemic

Branch manager Sean Hogan said they have a good problem right now

Oyama Zipline Adventure Park opening for the season

The Lake Country zipline is scheduled to open on June 12

No criminality in the 2019 death of woman found on Kelowna beach

Caitlin was found deceased on Gyro Beach on April 21, 2019

$220K for Okanagan Rail Trail loo

Successful proposal for Westkal Road comes ‘well within project budget’

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Limited summer camps fill up fast in North Okanagan

Some options for kids opened up by Greater Vernon Recreation Services

COLUMN: Efforts preserve and promote local agriculture

Farming will remain an important element in the region

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Kelowna council greenlights ‘The Wedge’

The wedge-shaped building will be built at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street

Most Read