With a record breaking 200,000 visitors in 2016, the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Air Show is recruiting some high flying northern neighbors to help add a new element to this year’s festivities.

The Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Squadron, known as the Snowbirds, will be included in a 2018 air show line-up already highlighted by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. This will be the first time the air show has featured two of the world’s top jet aerobatic teams performing at the same event.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds 431 Air Demonstration Squadron is comprised of Canadian Armed Forces members and National Defense Public Service employees. Based at 15 Wing, near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the Snowbirds have gained the reputation as Canada's top military aerobatics team.

The squadron is known for the distinctive roar of its turbojet engine-powered CT-114 Tutor aircraft, a Canadian Air Force icon, which was originally used in the mid-1960s to train student pilots. Today, the Tutor is flown primarily by 431 Squadron Snowbirds and is also used in aircraft testing at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment in Cold Lake, Alberta.

The show team flies nine CT-114 Tutors for aerobatic performances, including two solo aircraft.

The Tutors flown by the Snowbirds are slightly modified from the training version. In addition to show features, the modified version has a more highly-tuned engine to enhance performance during low-level aerobatic flying.

While the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron was formed in 1978, its history dates to World War II. The 431 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force formed on Nov. 11, 1942, and flew on bombing and mine-laying operations in Great Britain under control of the RAF Bomber Command.

The squadron reformed in January 1954, performing aerial combat training and displaying the capabilities of jet operations to the public at air shows, before disbanding in October of that year.

In 1969, under the direction of Col. O.B. Philp, base commander of CFB Moose Jaw and former leader of the defunct Golden Centennaires aerobatic team, a group of CT-114 Tutor pilots began providing flypasts at fairs and festivals, including Armed Forces Day at CFB Moose Jaw.

By 1971, the team had gained recognition and grown in size to seven aircraft and 11 pilots. A contest at a local elementary school to name the team resulted in the Snowbird moniker, which reflected the aircraft's distinctive, predominately white paint scheme used at the time.

The Snowbirds were officially designated as the Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Team on Jan. 15, 1975.

The 431 Air Demonstration Squadron currently consists of 80 Canadian Forces personnel, 24 of whom comprise the show team that travels during the show season. The tour of duty for the pilots is limited to three years each, with one third of the pilots changing each year. The process benefits the team by allowing the second- and third-year members to train the new first year pilots, who are selected based on skill and experience.

The team designs three aerobatic shows each year: a high show flown when weather is ideal, a low show and a flat show. Some elements of the flight performance are passed down from one season to the next, including the Canada burst, heart, downward bomb burst, solo head-on crosses, and the team’s signature nine-abreast exit.

The Snowbirds fly at speeds between 115 mph and 370 mph, with a separation between aircraft of about four feet in many of the formations.

The Snowbirds were the first aerobatic team in the world to include music in their show, which is often used in addition to live commentary from the performing pilots.

The Snowbirds are scheduled to fly Saturday and Sunday as part of the two day shows of the air show. The demonstration will be the team’s first of the 2018 season.