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Snowbirds perform gasp-inducing maneuvers like the Four-Way Cross. (Ken Lin (www.aviography.com))

The Moose Jaw Nine

What the Canadian Snowbirds have that the Navy's Blue Angels don't.

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There’s no support airplane like the Blue Angels’ C-130 Hercules Fat Albert. Spares travel in a truck called the Mobile Support Vehicle. “We carry most of our parts and tools in the MSV, including two spare engines,” says Shillingford. She says her crew can change an engine in four hours.

And those parts, one might think, would be hard to find today. But “we’ve never been short an airplane for a show due to unserviceabilities or parts shortage,” Shillingford says. The lowest-time Snowbird Tutor has just 6,500 hours; it could yet go a long way. The squadron’s highest-time aircraft has logged well over 12,500.

The team will perform at eight U.S. sites this year. A U.S. Snowbird appearance guarantees huge crowds, who are as thrilled as the Canadians by the nine little jets, all in a row.

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