With crack military precision and a little help from the unpredictable West Coast weather, the RCAF Snowbirds had their picture taken from 370 km away April 21. International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield snapped a photo of the team’s Super Goose formation while the ISS’s orbit took it over the team’s spring training base at Comox on Vancouver Island.
In this photo supplied by NASA, the Snowbirds’ smoke trail is seen from
space over Georgia Strait.
The base’s runways can be clearly seen above the smoke of the formation. The photo is oriented with west at the top. The aircraft are flying over Georgia Strait and the northern end of the Sunshine Coast is shrouded in cloud at the bottom.
The space station was traveling at 28,000 kmh and there was a two-minute window for Hadfield to take the picture. He could easily see the smoke from the formation from a window on the space station. The formation consisted of 11 Snowbird CT-114 Tutor jets (the nine performance aircraft and two support planes) and a CF-18 demo plane, which doesn’t have a smoke kit.
Hadfield and Maj. Jeremy Hansen, a new Canadian astronaut, worked together to coordinate the project with the team.