Snowbirds Over Debert is a production of the Nova Scotia International Air Show Association (NSIASA), formed as a Nova Scotian not-for-profit society in 1996. The other current productions are Air Show Atlantic which takes place at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia this year and DEFSEC Atlantic which takes place annually at the Cunard Centre on the waterfront in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This is the first air show we have produced at the Debert Airport location and is the 38th air show we have been involved in producing in our organization's history. The production is a smaller, one-day afternoon/evening air show which is taking place on June 19, 2019 with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds as the headline performers.
We plan to keep producing events that help foster interest in aviation and military heritage across the region and want to bring world-class entertainment to our fans in the communities where we hold the Air Show.
The history of our air show is a humble one that began with the long flying legacy established in Shearwater, Nova Scotia, Canada. Flying operations on the base go all the way back to 1918 and over the years, residents saw many open houses, armed forces days and air displays. However, these were all military and generally one-day events. Shearwater's all-military team of organizers and volunteer workers considered that, as their base was offering the sole major air display in Atlantic Canada, more was possible and, indeed, highly desirable. This framework began to loosely form during the ATLANTIC AIR DISPLAY (AAD) between 1978 and 1980...
The format of what would become the SHEARWATER INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW (SIAS) began to crystallize in 1981. Obviously, it could not compete with bigger shows playing to larger population centres. So, if biggest was not possible, SIAS aimed to be the best. The show's search for excellence was rewarded by many successes: air displays equaling any in the country and over 75 different static aircraft from as many as seven countries. In addition, over 80 high-quality ground exhibits were displayed, including such exotica as an Iraqi Scud missile and the weapon which brought it down, the US Army's Patriot System.
Both the air show fraternity and the public, who have even supported the event through two days of rain, recognized all of these as exceptional. SIAS routinely generated millions of dollars into Nova Scotia's economy. In addition, spirited citizens working at concessions and other activities earned thousands of dollars in the name of many local charities. Through the years, a few forward-looking corporations, agencies and other aviation interest groups supported SIAS with encouragement, advice and some sponsorship funding.
Efforts to raise the NOVA SCOTIA INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW (NSIAS) from the ashes of SIAS were unsuccessful in 1996, but a few dedicated believers took on the task to try again for 1997 and were more than rewarded for their efforts. NSIAS 97 was a co-production of the three levels of government, the private sector and the military in the Atlantic Region. A lot of hard work, negotiations and good will produced a first class show that had all the trade marks of past SIAS events and then some. With a superb two-day attendance and an overall economic impact in the millions of dollars, Shearwater and Nova Scotia were clearly back on the air show map.
The NSIAS took place annually between 1997 and 2003 still at the military base in Shearwater, with the exception of 1998 when the Show was cancelled only 5 days before the event due to the crash of Swissair Flight 111, where the hangars at the base were used for the massive crash investigation that followed. In 2004, the beginning of the multi-year renovations in Shearwater in preparation for the new helicopter to replace the Sea King saw the base become unavailable for hosting an air show for a number of years.
From 2004 until 2006 and again in 2008, the Show moved to the Halifax International Airport located in Enfield, Nova Scotia. The venue was especially an excellent location in terms of fans having great places to sit and proved a great home for the Show while there. However, between runway renovations in 2007 leading to the Team's decision to cancel that year's Show and after the great success of the expansion at the airport after the 2008 show, it was decided that the Show was no longer able to hold an Air Show at the venue. This was mainly due to the lack of having long-enough available stretches of "sterile time" when it would be safe for performers to fly in the same airspace with commercial flights arriving and departing.
The Show slowly began its trend towards travelling away from its traditional home in Shearwater when it staged the full Show in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 2009. This venue showed the Team both the potential benefits and challenges of "taking the Show on the road".
With the completion of the vast majority of renovations at the base in Shearwater and the central theme of the Centennial of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Show was invited back to Shearwater to host its 2010 Show. With the conversion of the base's runways to being used strictly as a heliport, static displays were limited and performer departures and arrivals were staged primarily out of the Halifax International Airport with the flying taking place over the crowds at the military base.
In 2011, a decision was made to re-brand the Air Show. The change in name from the NSIAS to the ATLANTIC CANADA INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW (ACIAS) was done to reflect the permanent change in our business model to start moving the Show between different communities each year. Since this official change, the Show has been held in Summerside, PEI, Miramichi, NB, Moncton/Dieppe, NB and Greenwood, NS.
Our long-term plan is to establish an "ideal" list of communities that we can regularly rotate between from year to year. This would see us travel between each of the Maritime provinces making regular visits to each of our established host communities.
Every year, the Organizing Team strives to improve upon the previous Show and this has proved true in many respects, as the team members become more familiar with the unique aspects of each location.
We look forward to bringing the Show to a location near you!