Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

January 17, 2007 16:35 ET

Snowbirds Conduct Change of Command Parade

15 WING, MOOSE JAW, SASKATCHEWAN--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 17, 2007) - The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will conduct a Change of Command Parade Friday, January 19 at 1 p.m., as Major Ian McLean, 45, of London, Ont., relinquishes command of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron to Major Robert Mitchell, 37, of Victoria, B.C.

"Major Mitchell demonstrated that he has the piloting and leadership skills required to lead the Snowbirds, a Squadron with an extremely important mission as Canadian Forces ambassadors," said Major-General Charles Bouchard, Commander, 1 Canadian Air Division. "To lead the Snowbirds is a tremendous privilege and responsibility - I know that Major Mitchell will continue the team's 36-year tradition of excellence."

"I have had a wonderful career in the Canadian Forces - being the Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds was truly a unique privilege that I will treasure," said Major McLean. "While it is difficult to leave the Canadian Forces family and the adventure, I have many fond memories."

"It is a tremendous honour to be selected as the Team Lead and Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds - I am truly ecstatic," said Major Mitchell. "I am looking forward to a wonderful 2007 show season and to the opportunity of visiting communities across North America."

Under Major McLean's leadership, the team participated in more than 100 air shows as well as hundreds of community events across North America. Major McLean is retiring from the Canadian Forces after more than 25 years of dedicated service as a pilot, flying the CT-114 Tutor, the CC-130 Hercules, the CF-5 Freedom Fighter and the CF-18 Hornet.

Highlights of Major McLean's career include an exchange with the Royal Air Force in High Wycombe, England, staff positions in support of the Gulf War and the conflict in Sierra Leone as well as his time with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, as Snowbird 7 and Commanding Officer.

Major Mitchell, a third generation fighter pilot and a graduate of the University of Manitoba, joined the Canadian Forces in 1989 and has 3,500 hours of flying high performance aircraft. His experience includes flying the CF-18 Hornet as an operational and air demonstration pilot, performing on the Canadian Forces Snowbirds Team from 2000 to 2002 and, most recently, working as a defence analyst at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

During the 2007 season, the team is expected to participate in about 60 air shows across North America, representing the professionalism, skill and teamwork of the Canadian Forces and inspiring Canadians to consider a career in Canada's military.

Note to editors/news directors: Please visit the team's website at for background information, biographies and photos.

Contact Information

  • Lieutenant (Navy) Petra Smith
    Public Affairs Officer
    Information: 306-694-2823
    After hours: 306-631-0509
    306-694-2861 (FAX)