news: Local pilot lands lead role with Canada’s Snowbirds

Local pilot named top dog of Canada's snowbirds

Canadian Forces Snowbirds outgoing Team Lead, Major Brett Parker (left) passes the Team Lead helmet over to incoming Snowbird 1, Team Lead, Major Brent Handy. Handy is from Wyevale, Ontario, just outside Midland, Ontario. | Photo: Canadian Forces Snowbirds

MOOSE JAW, SASKATCHEWAN – A local RCAF pilot has taken to new heights as the top dog of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

On Monday, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds Aerobatic Demonstration Team announced a new member of their team for the upcoming 2024 airshow season who will be taking over Snowbird 1.

Maj. Handy, a Wyevale native, and formerly a Northern Stars Aeroteam pilot and Snowbirds lead solo pilot will take over the team lead position from outgoing pilot, Major Brett Parker.

“The end of the Snowbird show season is always a bittersweet event. This year we bid farewell to our Boss, Snowbird 1, the Team Lead, Major Brett Parker, and welcome incoming Team Lead and Snowbird 1, Major Brent Handy,” stated a media release by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

The announcement was made Sunday night at a banquet in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

“I’m super excited! It’s the best flying job in the Air Force in my opinion!” Major Handy said.

When asked what was going through his mind when he embarks on his new and exciting journey, Handy talked about the skill and professionalism of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

“The responsibility is to do well by the high standards we have for the Team. And I’m really excited to have a team of top-notch folks to take care of. I’m glad to be in a position to advocate for them as they grow in experience,” explained Handy.

Handy who grew up in Wyevale, just outside Midland, joined the local cadets at the age of 12, where he got interested in the planes and gliders through cadets. He obtained his pilot’s licence by the age of 16.

After graduating Elmvale District High School, Handy attended Sault College and studied aviation where he later joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1999 and started serving as a CF-18 fighter pilot.

His aviation skills only continued to get better and eventually in 2012, he caught the eye of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, in which he later got the opportunity of all young aviation enthusiasts dream to join the Snowbirds jet team as the Lead Solo.

After flying a few years with the Snowbirds and then leaving the team, Handy founded the Northern Stars Aeroteam along with friend and fellow RCAF veteran Todd Farrell.

The Northern Stars Aeroteam, based out of the Huronia Reginal Airport in Tiny, ON, have been performing at airshows all across Canada and the United States ever since their founding.

Ever since then, Handy has dreamt about reliving his experience with the Snowbirds, and that dream came true Sunday night at an end-of-the-year Snowbirds team banquet where he was given the Team Lead helmet from outgoing Snowbird 1, Major Brett Parker.

Parker, the outgoing Snowbird 1, joined the Snowbirds again in 2021 as Snowbird 7 and then transitioned into the Team Lead position for the 2022 airshow season. He continued his role as the Team Lead again for the 2023 Snowbirds airshow season, leaving the team after the 2023 Snowbirds airshow season wrapped up.

“‘The entire Snowbird family wishes Major Parker and his family all the best as he continues his military career in Cold Lake, Alberta. We also wish a warm welcome back to Major Handy and his family.” stated a media release by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Incoming Snowbird 1 Major Brent Handy will have some big shoes to fill for his premiere airshow season as Team Lead for the upcoming 2024 airshow season. The 2024 season also happens to be the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) 100th Anniversary, where the Snowbirds are set to perform at a variety of celebration events and airshows, including one at CFB Base Borden. More details will be released on that show next year.

It is unclear right now whether Handy will visit his hometown during the Snowbirds airshow stop next year in our region, but many are already hoping Handy, and the rest of the team will do a flyover of his hometown


This report by Connor Earl Productions was published October 16, 2023.

Connor Earl Productions. All rights reserved.

Related Photos:

Snowbird 1 flies overhead during the 2023 Barrie Airshow. | Photo: Connor Earl Productions
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds Aerobatic Demonstration Team 9 jet formation overhead during the 2023 Barrie Airshow. | Photo: Connor Earl Productions
Northern Stars Aeroteam Pilot Brent Handy performs over the Barrie Waterfront in his aerobatic plane during the 2023 Barrie Airshow. | Photo: Connor Earl Productions

Published: Oct 16, 2023 / 4:06pm EST