Mark Clairmont |

ORO — Muskoka missed an inspiring Canadian spectacle this morning.

The Snowbirds took off from Lake Simcoe Regional Airport at 9:45 a.m., en route to Thunder Bay via Sault Ste. Marie.

I caught a fleeting glimpse of them just as they zoomed across Hwy. 11 near Burl’s Creek, after their takeoff on the west side of the highway baring northeast.

Their flight path would have included part of Orillia.

The ’Birds had landed in Oro, just north of Barrie, late yesterday afternoon from London.

I was flying by the seat of my pants this morning, after I called the flight centre at the airport at 9 a.m. for an update on the weather and a departure time.

This after my Twitter messages to them couldn’t confirm Monday’s daily flying schedule, which is always “subject to change.”

They post it on Twitter and Facebook. But all it said was they were headed to the Soo for a 10:30 a.m. flyover and a touchdown in Thunder Bay at 1:45 p.m.

Inspired by Operation Inspiration, the national salute to Canadians going through COVID-19, the chase was on with a clear, sunny sky above.

Keeping a close eye on traffic and the horizon beyond, I headed south ready to pull over at a moment’s notice.

Just past Orillia, at 10:40 a.m., I suddenly spotted two of the 11 CT-114 Tutors race across the sky east of the highway.

Dark shadows in distant, backlit sky.

Instantly pulling onto the right shoulder I glanced left as they zipped behind trees.

That was it — I thought. Five minutes late and but that fleeting glimpse.

Back on the road ….

Within minutes racing over the right horizon on a flight path northeast over the highway, I was stunned by the familiar iconic nine-plane red, white and blue formation with bright white headlights ablaze.

Jerking the steering wheel right, I came to an abrupt, safe stop next to a guard rail at Oro-Medonte Line 9.

And pointed my cellphone out the driver’s window, where and caught the tail end of the Snowbirds — a black wisp of smoke stretching half a kilometre.

A couple of other cars behind followed my lead onto the side of the road.

It’s surprising how fast the Snowbirds fly by.

And how impressive they are even in such short duration.

Having seen them up close before at a Muskoka Airport show more than a decade ago, it was still a worthwhile sight to behold albeit briefly.

Many had hoped they would fly through Muskoka before detouring west.

Flight fans in North Bay — where the Canadian Forces’ 22 Wing airbase is stationed — were also disappointed they didn’t see them again.

The ’Birds have flown over Muskoka more than once.

Memorably, they made another flypast in Gravenhurst July 1, 2012.’s Lois Cooper snapped a spectacular photo as they tailed big, beautiful white plumes of smoke across Lake Muskoka while jetting into town from the west over the Canadian flag in our backyard.

As Ferris Bueller quotably said in his famous day off movie: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Fortunately we didn’t today.

Just in time, this morning, we caught this fleeting glimpse of the Snowbirds as they flew over Hwy. 11 at Oro-Medonte Line 9 after taking off from the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport.
Lois Cooper snapped this spectacular one-off photo of the Snowbirds Canada Day 2012 over the Muskoka Wharf where the Muskoka Steamships fleet began and Maisie Clairmont snapped her old photo below.



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