Jump­ing from air­craft a dream come true for War­rant Of­fi­cer

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - By Joyce Wal­ter For Moose Jaw Ex­press Joyce Wal­ter can be reached at ron­joy@sask­tel.net

When Mike Dwyer was a lad he was like other kids who watched air­planes and played with toy sol­diers and dreamed a bit about jump­ing out of air­craft — but that dream al­ways seemed too far away.

To­day, War­rant Of­fi­cer Dwyer is sec­ond in com­mand of Canada’s elite parachute team, The SkyHawks, and he will be one of the team mem­bers who will per­form be­fore the crowd at the High­way to He­roes car show, con­cert and air demon­stra­tion on Sun­day, July 15 at 15 Wing.

It has been sev­eral years since the Cana­dian Armed Forces team ap­peared in the sky over Moose Jaw so mem­bers are look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing be­fore the lo­cal crowd. “We’re ex­cited about com­ing to Moose Jaw,” Dwyer said. “The Snow­birds (431 Air Demon­stra­tion Squadron) are al­ways brag­ging about Moose Jaw,” he said, not­ing the SkyHawks want to see what the com­mu­nity is all about.

The Moose Jaw show will fea­ture 11 de­mon­stra­tors plus three other crew mem­bers. Mem­bers come from the Cana­dian Army, Navy and Air Force and this year there is one fe­male mem­ber, Lead­ing Sea­man Jen­nifer MacKin­non of Saint John, N.B. Some mem­bers are rel­a­tive new­com­ers, while oth­ers have more than 1,000 jumps. They come from a va­ri­ety of back­grounds and have var­ied mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ences.

The SkyHawks team was es­tab­lished in 1971 and has per­formed in front of more than 75 mil­lion spec­ta­tors around the world un­der the sig­na­ture Cana­dian flag para­chutes.

Dwyer said the team will do some train­ing jumps to be­come fa­mil­iar with the Moose Jaw drop zone. Af­ter the team fin­ishes the car show per­for­mance, mem­bers will mingle with the crowd and pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for spec­ta­tors to help repack a parachute. Mem­bers will also pose for pho­tographs and sign au­to­graphs. Be­cause of the vis­ual im­pact of the SkyHawks’ per­for­mance, weather is al­ways a fac­tor. Dwyer said a wind speed of 18 knots (33 kph) is the max­i­mum per­mis­si­ble. And a low cloud cover would kill the vis­ual ef­fect of the per­for­mance.

This year the team has 25 shows in its sched­ule, in­clud­ing two in the United States: one al­ready fin­ished in Michi­gan and one planned in Ken­tucky.

Dwyer joined the mil­i­tary in 1998 with the 3rd Bat­tal­ion, The Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment in Petawawa, Ont. He com­pleted his ba­sic parachutis­t course in 1999 and joined the para com­pany the same year, hold­ing var­i­ous roles from ma­chine gun­ner to pla­toon war­rant of­fi­cer. In 14 years with 3RCR he was de­ployed to Bos­nia and Afghanista­n twice. He con­sid­ers his time in Afghanista­n as “a tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence.” One of his goals was to “bring my team home” and he did, safely. Dwyer was posted to the Cana­dian Army Ad­vanced Ware­fare Cen­ter in Tren­ton in 2012. He holds qual­i­fi­ca­tions as a static line round and mil­i­tary square parachute in­struc­tor and has com­pleted his tan­dem in­struc­tor qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

As the sec­ond in com­mand of the SkyHawks, he sup­ports the team com­man­der with ad­min­is­tra­tion and plan­ning for the team and looks af­ter the safe and ef­fi­cient per­for­mance of the team.

He de­scribes the op­por­tu­nity to per­form and travel with the SkyHawks and meet­ing the peo­ple as “a job I never thought I would have.”

Gates to the High­way to He­roes Car Show, Con­cert and Air Demon­stra­tion open at 9 a.m. for show car ex­hibitors. The day’s pro­gram be­gins at 11 a.m. Air Demon­stra­tions with the SkyHawks, Snow­birds and NFTC as­sets take place be­tween 2-4 p.m.

The Snow­birds Squadron is about half-way through the team’s 48th sea­son and for the first time in many years, is per­form­ing a full public show in Moose Jaw. This year’s theme is A Tra­di­tion of Mil­i­tary Ex­cel­lence. Ad­mis­sion is $10 for adults (13 years and up); $5 for chil­dren 6-12 years; and free for pre-school aged.

CAF SkyHawks com­ing to Moose Jaw CAF Photo by Clint Clau­son.jpg

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