Mike French is pleased with changes to the city of Moose Jaw since he last lived here in 2009.
"There's a few more restaurants now, but more importantly, the lights on 9th (Ave SW) and Coteau...I'm really glad they let opposite-direction traffic flow now," he chuckled.
Liutenant Colonel French was officially named Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds at a 15 Wing Ceremony July 11, making it French's third posting to the air base just south of the city in his military career. French is a former Snowbirds pilot, and flew with the team from 2005-2007, in addition to a large portion of the 2009 season.
French, a Langley, B.C. native, acknowledged the greater responsibility that comes with the job.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel an extra weight on my shoulders when I (received) our squadron colours from 15 Wing Commander, Colonel Dennis O'Reilly," he stated. "I couldn't grab them fast enough, and then as soon as I grabbed them, let me tell you they're pretty heavy as far as flags go."
French said that being named Commanding Officer is made even more special given this year's Canada 150 celebrations.
"Being able to fly over Ottawa on Canada Day was just incredible, and I hope Canadians beam with pride the way I do when I see the Snowbirds fly," he said. "A sense of unbridled patriotism comes over you when you see the Snowbirds fly, and I hope that's reflected by everyone else who gets to see them too."
French said one of his main goals as Commanding Officer is to expand the Snowbirds brand around the world.
"In the past few years we've really come a long way with engaging people through social media and YouTube videos, to the point where we've reached millions more viewers than would ever get a chance to see the team live. We have one team member who's an excellent social media person, and I want to make sure that when he leaves we continue to do that."
French is expected to hold the Commanding Officer title through 2019, and says he'll relish every second.
"It's really been the ultimate dream of mine," he said of the post. "To be a Snowbird is great, but to command the Squadron is even better."