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Organizer Darlene Hamre says residents will be treated to both a daytime show Sunday and an evening show Saturday, something never seen in the Energetic City.

“Same performers but different acts completely,” she explains. “For example, the Harmon Rockets are coming back, but they have pyrotechnics on their wings, and it’s absolutely incredible to watch… and there’s nothing sweeter than an F-18’s afterburners at night: To watch it take off, it’s absolutely stellar.”

In addition to the Rockets, viewers will be treated to Canada’s Air Force Snowbirds, a CF-18 Hornet, as well as famed pilots like Kent Peach, Jerzy Strzyz, and Dan Buchanan, a paraplegic hang glider. Strzyz, who has been flying aerobatics since 1978, was at today’s announcement, and says he enjoys performing in air shows, as opposed to competitions, as they’re more fun and less stressful.

“It’s great fun and it’s good for your ego,” he says. “Competition is not. Judges watch for mistakes and are quite critical. The air show is totally opposite. It’s all about having fun.”

Joining Strzyz in next year’s show will be Major Wayne Mott, the lead flyer for the Snowbirds. Mott says it takes a lot of training to fly in formation like the Snowbirds do. He says once they make the cut, they train for six months over the winter flying twice a day Monday to Friday, in preparation for the busy summer season.

“I’m in the lead, so I’m in the very front aircraft, and then everybody else flies off of me, so they rely a lot on me to make sure that I am at the right place at the right time and in the proper position and speed.”

He says practicing so often makes the responsibility much less stressful than it sounds. About half of the team that was in Fort St. John today will be back next year, as the standard career for a Snowbird pilot is two years. In addition to being an excellent pilot, Mott says there are a few other qualities that make a member of the team.

“We’re all a bit of a Type A personality, you know, you’ve got to be a bit aggressive,” he argues. “You’ve got to not be lethargic or just hang back and wait for someone else to do something. You’ve got to step out there and say, hey, this is what I want to do and I’m going to try and do it.”

The first Air Show in Fort St. John since 2010 is set for July 27 and 28, 2013.

Photos of the pilots and planes at today’s announcement are below.

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