fly over group photo

A group photo of all the pilots and passengers who took part in the fly over Friday. (Arielle Zerr/CBC)

People in the Moose Jaw area were treated to a rare sight of 20 military aircraft flying in two separate formations above the skies at the nearby air force base on Friday morning. 

Sixteen Harvard turboprops and four Hawk jets were in the air at the same time.

Despite cloudy skies and strong winds, the 20 planes thundered across Moose Jaw-area skies as planned. The jets flew over first followed a couple of minutes later by the turboprops. The turboprops regrouped and did a second fly over in a second formation.

"It takes a while to get that number of airplanes together when you get airborne," wing commander Col. Paul Goddard said Friday following the demonstration. "And it was pretty windy and turbulent today so a little tough, the guys had to work a little harder to stay in position."

Paul Goddard wing commander

Wing Commander Col. Paul Goddard, on the right, shortly after the flight. (Arielle Zerr/CBC)

It was one of the last flights at 15 Wing for Goddard who is set to take up a new assignment at another base.

One of the goals of the exercise, which has only been done once before, was boost morale for the base. The pilots were accompanied by a number of civilian staff at the base.

"When we have this type of a mission we bring some of those folks who never get to fly on board with us," Goddard explained. "So they get to feel truly part of the team as we're airborne."

The planes — officially the CT-156 Harvard II turboprop and the CT-155 Hawk advanced tactical jet — are training aircrafts for beginner and advanced air force pilots from Canada and a number of NATO allies.

15 Wing Moose Jaw has been the base for air force training in Canada for decades. It is also famous as the home of demonstration squadron, the Snowbirds, which travel North America performing aerobatic manoeuvres with a complement of 11 planes, the CT-114 Tutor.

The Tutors were built in the mid-1960s and were the designated training aircraft at 15 Wing until they were replaced, in 2000, by the Harvards and the Hawks.

With files from CBC's Arielle Zerr