Maj. Michelle Curran of the Thunderbirds and Capt. Sarah Dallaire of the Snowbirds are set to make history this weekend at the Abbotsford International Airshow. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

VIDEO: Female pilots making history at Abbotsford International Airshow

Women flying for the first time with both the Thunderbirds and the Snowbirds on Saturday and Sunday

The Abbotsford International Airshow is celebrating its 57th year, but Saturday features a first for the event and for airshows in general.

Saturday marks the first time ever that both the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the USAF Thunderbirds have a female pilot performing in their ranks.

Capt. Sarah Dallaire of the Snowbirds and Maj. Michelle Curran both take to the skies on Saturday, and the pair are thrilled to see more females entering the cockpit.

Dallaire, a Quebec native, began pilots training back in 2001 when she joined the 776 Air Cadet Squadron. From there she joined the Canadian Armed Forces through the Continuous Education Officer Training Program as a Royal Canadian Airforce pilot in 2007. She was then posted at two Canadian forces flying schools and was also deployed in Kuwait for six months. Dallaire then applied to join the Snowbirds and was selected to join the team in 2017.

Curran, a Wisconsin native, is a 2009 graduate of the University of St. Thomas’s Air Force ROTC program. She also served as an F-16 instructor pilot in Texas and has logged more than 1,200 hours as a pilot, including more than 160 combat hours. This is her first season with the Thunderbirds.

Dallaire is just the second woman ever to perform with the Snowbirds, and said she was inspired by Maryse Carmichael – the first woman to become a Snowbird.

“I was 12 years old and all it took was the first time I heard her name on the PA and she put a flame into my heart,” she told The News on Friday afternoon.

She said never thought she’d become a Snowbird, but she kept pushing and pushing to the next step and realized her dream was in reach.

Curran’s path was similar, with a lot of hard work and pushing to keep reaching the next goal. There have been four other females that have been a member of the Thunderbirds. She said it’s great to see females become more aware and interested in the path she’s taken.

“What’s really cool now is that with social media now people will reach out to me directly and send me messages,” she said. “It’s cool to see tangible results.”

Curran and the Thunderbirds perform at 1:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, while Dallaire and the Snowbirds take to the skies both days at 3:30 p.m.

For more on the show, visit abbotsfordairshow.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Lock at Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar to open on May 23

The navigational lock will be open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m

Morning start: Rossland is named after this person

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 22

Castlegar green spaces will see less maintenance this year

Mowing, weeding and watering will be reduced

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read