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Plan for memorial brings up memories of fallen pilot

With plans for a memorial in honour of a fallen pilot in the works, his sister is remembering his life. Gord de Jong died at an airshow in Grande Prairie in 1978 when the Snowbird plane he was flying crashed north of the airport. Anne Boerefyn says her brother passed away doing what he loved.

“He was doing what he always wanted to do. I think he was two years old the first time he said he wanted to be a pilot. That’s what he worked towards basically from the time he was very young.”

The family immigrated to Alberta from Holland by boat in 1955. Growing up, de Jong was an air cadet and went on to become a pilot stationed overseas in Germany. After that, he came to Cold Lake where he applied and was accepted to the Snowbirds. Boerefyn describes de Jong as a person you’d want to be around and says he was funny and charming.

On Tuesday, West Peace Aviation Association President Lloyd Sherk announced that after three years of planning, they were moving ahead with a project called the Snowbird 8 Memorial. It would see a Tutor style plane, painted in Snowbird colours go up on a pedestal north of the Grande Prairie Airport parking lot. Boerefyn thinks it’s wonderful to have a memorial after all these years and believes her brother would have enjoyed it.

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“Because it’s in an airport first of all and it’s a Snowbird plane that they’re planning on, I think that he would be really thrilled with that.”

Those working on the project are hoping to have the memorial finished by May 3rd, 2020. That will mark the 42nd anniversary of de Jong’s death.

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