Veteran pilot honoured with Snowbirds fly-over for 100th birthday

EDMONTON — One Edmontonian received a special birthday surprise to help celebrate the occasion of turning 100.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds conducted a fly-over of retired pilot Chris Bellchamber’s care home in Mill Woods on Monday.

Flight Lieutenant (ret.) Bellchamber flew with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and Royal Canadian Air Force in the Cold War, including secret missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“My dad learned to fly on this plane in Africa where the Brits had their flying school,” said Chris’ daughter Jeanie.

“He was a special operations pilot during the Cold War.”

The veteran recalled to CTV News Edmonton how he helped disable an enemy submarine in the Indian Ocean during the Second World War.

Bellchamber overcame his share of health battles too – including COVID-19 this past December.

“He’s had cancer three times,” Jeanie said. “He had COVID, he had malaria twice in the war.

“The guy just keeps on tickin’, ya know?”

Jeanie emailed the Snowbirds her father’s military history who agreed to conduct the flyby in his honour.

“They said, ‘Sure, we’d love to,” she told CTV News Edmonton. “They honour their own.”

While his birthday is not until Wednesday, Chris watched with joy as the Snowbirds conducted two passes.

“I think it’s terrific,” he said.

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