Snowbirds Welcome Female Commander

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The first woman ever to fly as a member of a jet military demo team is now the commanding officer of the team. Lt. Col. Maryse Carmichael took over Canadian Forces 431 Squadron (Air Demonstration) Squadron, more popularly known as the Snowbirds, last Thursday as the team entered its 40th season. "This is a chance for me to give back to the team," she told Canadian Aviator Magazine. "To be back here is a chance to really support this team." Carmichael is a 20-year veteran of the Canadian Forces and joined the Snowbirds for the 2000 and 2001 seasons. She joined the Snowbirds a year after Fl. Lt. Joanne Mein, became a member of the Royal Australian Air Force's Roulettes, who fly turboprop PC9s.

She said the Snowbirds are an important symbol of military excellence to Canada and an effective recruiting tool for its military. She said she was inspired to become a pilot at a young age after seeing the Snowbirds. Prior to joining the Snowbirds, she flew the military version of a Challenger business jet in both tactical support and VIP transport roles (the country's prime minister often uses a Challenger for getting around the country) and she also put in two years flying CC-130 Hercules. Carmichael is not a flying member of the Snowbirds but does have a personalized Tutor aircraft to use to join the team at some of the shows on its schedule.