The Public Face of the Royal Canadian Air Force: The Importance of Air Shows and Demonstration Teams to the R.C.A.F.

Luke F. Kowalski


This article examines the history of Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) air show participation and demonstrations teams, and argues these teams have provided many important services and benefits to the R.C.A.F. The article draws on information from oral history interviews of three retired R.C.A.F. officers conducted by the author. The interviewees refute common criticisms of demonstration teams, such as being prohibitively expensive or as being glorifications of war. They provide examples that detail how these teams are an important tool used to display the skill and professionalism of the force, and are also a significant part of public relations and recruiting. Based on these testimonies, and supporting secondary sources, the article concludes that demonstration teams, such as the Snowbirds, are an integral part of today’s R.C.A.F.

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