SaultOnline and Snowbirds work together to fulfill local boy’s dream (photos)

Xander and his family with Captain Patrice Powis-Clement, Snowbird 4 pilot from St. Joseph Island (Dan Gray/

When 2.5 year old Xander’s mother Sarah learned that the Snowbirds would be back in town, she reached out to SaultOnline with a request. Would it be possible for her son who was “obsessed” with airplanes, and especially the Snowbirds, to somehow meet them?

Xander, Sarah and Chris pose for a photo before finding out they would be joining us inside the fence, August 24, 2021 (Dan Gray/

SaultOnline immediately reached out to Snowbirds Public Relations Officer, Captain Gabriel Ferris, who we had already been in contact with to arrange an interview with local pilot Patrice Powis-Clement. We asked if it would be possible to have Xander tag along.

Monday night, although nearing his bed time, Xander was out with us at the Sault Airport to wave happily at the Snowbirds as they taxied by after landing shortly after 8 p.m.

Then according to his dad Chris, he was up by 6 a.m. the next morning with hopes of being able to return to the airport for the chance to see them again.

Although unseen in the still photo, Xander waves frantically at the jets as they go by Monday night, ( Dan Gray/

Xander’s patience payed off as shortly after noon it happened. As we prepared for our interview with Capt. Powis-Clement, the Snowbirds invited Xander, along with his parents Chris and Sarah, to accompany us on the assignment out on the tarmac.

The excitement in both the child and fathers eyes as they got to walk among the snowbirds made this reporter wonder, who was more excited?


One of the pilots signing the coin for Xander, (Dan Gray/

“It was special to be able to do that,” said Chris. “I never expected we would get that close to the jets, it was incredible.”

According to Captain Ferris, it’s part of the mission for the Squadron when they travel across Canada.

“The goal for the Snowbirds is to inspire the population and to show what the Canadian Forces can do,” said Ferris. “It’s our 50th anniversary, pretty much anyone who grew up in Canada knows about (us ).”

Ferris went on to say that it is incredible to see the support, and it means a lot to the members of the team. He was happy to arrange for Xander to see the planes, and the pilots loved seeing the expressions on his face with many visibly smiling at the little guys excitement.

The signatures for Xander, August 24, 2021 (Dan Gray/

All of the Snowbird pilots who were on the ground at the time of the tour, signed two 50th anniversary coin packets that Chris had bought the day before. They were going to be kept as mementos they hope Xander will treasure for the rest of his life.

“Xander loved it. He didn’t wanna come home,  kept telling at us to turn around and go back to the airport to see the snowbirds,” said his mother later that night after it was all over.  “Once we got home, he calmed down, and said “best day ever!”

We loved having Xander and his family tag along both during the three hours spent at the Sault Airport Monday evening and several hours the next day. They even helped with some of our assignment. Hopefully he and his family walked away inspired by the experience.

Stay with SaultOnline as we bring you some good news stories from Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area.



  1. This is such a wonderful story …with all the negative news stories this is a breath of freshness so needed ….great job again Dan and what a wonderful memory for Xander and his family .

  2. This was incredible! Xander, Sarah and I were thrilled to be there. Not many people get the opportunity to see the jets up close and personal and have the chance to speak with the pilots. Thanks to the CF Snowbirds, Dan Gray and Sault Online for making this possible. We look forward to seeing you next year. Happy 50th to CF Snowbirds and stay safe in the skies

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