Pilots touch down in Simcoe County ahead of annual air show

Plans will once again take flight over Simcoe County.

On Saturday, after years of cancellations due to the pandemic, the Borden Air Show is back, featuring pilots from across North America.

“It’s a ton of fun to be out here doing the air shows. I can’t believe they pay me to do this,” said CF-18 pilot Capt. Jesse Haggart-Smith.

On Friday, the snowbirds and a CF-18 took flight in Angus to practice their performance.

Capt. Marc-Andre Plante, one of the snowbird pilots, made his team debut in his hometown, soaring in unison over the small community.

“I’m from Angus, so it’s pretty sweet being back here,” said Plante.

Plante said the team had been training upwards of six days a week with multiple flights per day in preparation for the summer shows.

A heavy schedule, but something he called an honor.

“It’s a huge honor to be a part of the snowbirds. It still blows my mind that I’m wearing the red suit right now,” said Plante.

Joining Plante on the tarmac is American pilot Maj. Haden “Gator” Fullam, who has been traveling to different air shows, in part, to honor those who lost their lives in combat.

“During the Vietnam war, that was the 355th tactical fighter wing and the 93 names on the side. Those are all the POWS killed in action from our pilot,” said Fullam.

Air show organizers said there is a growing hunger from air show fanatics after years of restrictions.

In 2018, Lt. Aaron Niles said attendance was around 18,000, and this year they’re on pace to break records.

“Right now, we’ve already exceeded the number of pre-sale tickets, so we’re expecting probably around 25,000 or 30,000. We’re going to break records,” said Niles.

Several practice flights were canceled on Friday due to the windy conditions.

Niles said they’re tracking weather and believe it should calm by Saturday but noted they would take all precautions to keep pilots and fans safe.

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