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Waterloo Warbirds to expand flyovers

With Remembrance Day ceremonies curtailed due to COVID-19 concerns, the Waterloo Warbirds plan to step up their annual flyover activities as a way to mark the event in the region.

While people won’t be able to gather as they usually do on November 11, the military planes can safely fly over all nine cenotaphs in Waterloo Region and Guelph, said Steve Zago, a spokesman for the organization based out of the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau.

“It is a 100 per cent safe space,” he said of the cockpit of the plane he’ll be flying over the sites.

Waterloo Warbirds operates a fleet of five historic aircraft, including a WWII trainer, a Harvard Mk IIb, and four jet trainers: MiG-15, de Havilland Vampire, Canadair CT-133 Silver Star and an Aero VodochodyL-29 Delfin.

“If it is operational, we will have it in the air,” said Derek Hammond, the organization’s president, of plans for next week’s flyovers.

The day’s flyovers will involve five to seven pilots, and another half a dozen crew members, all of whom are volunteers, said Zago.

“We do it because we enjoy it. It’s definitely a passion.”

Along with passing over the cenotaphs, the planes will fly over three major cemeteries – Woodlawn in Guelph, Mount View in Cambridge and Mount Hope in Kitchener-Waterloo – that have significant war memorials and buried service members. 

“As a sign of respect for other service members also, the flyover will include Woodland Cemetery in Kitchener, where there is a significant number of German war dead interred,” the organization said in a release.

The plan is to take off from Breslau about 10:30 a.m., with flyovers near 11 a.m. – depending on aircraft availability, the Honour Flight may be split into two flights covering all the sites.

The jets in particular will be moving quickly, so residents will have to keep an eye on the sky, though Zago notes you’ll likely hear them well before you see them.

As always, the activities are dependent on the weather – there were no flyovers last year, for instance, due to the poor conditions.

Those wishing to get a closer look at the aircraft, or even book a ride in one of them, can find out more at the organization’s website.

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