Precision skydiving team big hit with air show crowd - InfoNews

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Precision skydiving team big hit with air show crowd

Canadian Forces Skyhawks parachutists dazzle the crowd with some fancy footwork prior to landing in Okanagan Lake Park yesterday, Aug. 9, 2017
August 10, 2017 - 10:30 AM

PENTICTON - Smoky skies and an abbreviated program from the Snowbirds failed to dampen enthusiasm for the thousands attending the show at Okanagan Lake Park yesterday evening.

Peachfest’s first evening of entertainment included the Penticton Air Display 2017, with performances by the Canadian Forces Skyhawks Precision Parachute Team, followed by an abbreviated show by the Snowbirds squadron, and a demonstration flight of a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet.

Hundreds gathered to form a perimeter around the edge of Okanagan Lake Park to watch the parachute team demonstrate team maneuvers, some members trailing huge British Columbia and Canadian flags, starkly outlined against the whitish-grey smoky skies.

After the demonstration, team members packed their parachutes and spoke to members of the crowd.

Canadian Forces Skyhawks Precision Parachute Team member Master Cpl. Jeremy Canfield shows members of the crowd how to pack a parachute following a demonstration jump at Penticton Peachfest 2017, Aug. 10, 2017.
Canadian Forces Skyhawks Precision Parachute Team member Master Cpl. Jeremy Canfield shows members of the crowd how to pack a parachute following a demonstration jump at Penticton Peachfest 2017, Aug. 10, 2017.

Master Cpl. Jeremy Canfield of Pugwash, Nova Scotia packed his chute while answering a number of questions from curious crowd members.

“This is the hardest part,” he said as he began straightening out his lines on the park grass.

“It’s a lot cooler up there,” he said, commenting on the hot, muggy conditions at the park yesterday evening, noting his team jumped from 6,000 feet, where it was several degrees cooler.

Canfield said part of his training involved making eight jumps a day for six weeks.

A Skyhawk parachutist trails a huge Canadian flag prior to landing in Okanagan Lake Park yesterday, Aug. 9, 2017.
A Skyhawk parachutist trails a huge Canadian flag prior to landing in Okanagan Lake Park yesterday, Aug. 9, 2017.

He said he also spent time in California training, adding he felt he was pretty lucky to have ended up with a job like this one in the armed forces.

Canfield said extensive travel was part of the job which could sometimes be a grind.

“You miss the comforts of home when you’re travelling,” he said.

Team members get 300 jumps out of a parachute before they are replaced. The 160 square foot chutes are carefully tucked into a tiny pack not much bigger than a laptop computer, prior to jumps that can reach speeds of 120 miles per hour in a free fall.

A Skyhawks member runs to a safe landing at Okangan Lake Park on the first day of Peachfest activities, Aug. 9, 2017.
A Skyhawks member runs to a safe landing at Okangan Lake Park on the first day of Peachfest activities, Aug. 9, 2017.

The Snowbirds were restricted to formation flying, as smoky conditions limited visibility. The show included a number of fly-bys over the crowd gathered in Okanagan Lake Park demonstrating several different flying formations.

The Snowbirds' performance was hampered by smoky skies that reduced visibility, resulting in a limited show over Okanagan Lake on Aug. 9, 2017.
The Snowbirds' performance was hampered by smoky skies that reduced visibility, resulting in a limited show over Okanagan Lake on Aug. 9, 2017.

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