Almost as soon as he could walk, Major Jean-François Dupont wanted to fly.
With a rich history in aviation that started as an Air Cadet and with a glider license, Maj Dupont is now the Lead pilot for 431 Air Demonstration Squadron—known to most Canadians as the Snowbirds. Alongside his fellow pilots and backed by technicians, mobile support operators, support clerks, and engineering, logistics and public affairs officers, Maj Dupont dazzles audiences across Canada and the US, performing feats that at times look impossible.
Before joining the Snowbirds, Maj Dupont wanted to be a fighter jet pilot. Because of a delay in that training, he opted to become a flight instructor with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) instead. What was supposed to be a year or two turned into four years in that role and saw Maj Dupont deployed to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, where approximately 30% of all of RCAF’s flying hours takes place every year.
It was at 15 Wing where Maj Dupont saw the Snowbirds flying nearly every day. Beyond the impressive technical skill on display, Maj Dupont remembers thinking how fun the formations and maneuvers looked.
Still, joining the Snowbirds was not something that Maj Dupont planned for his career, at least not initially. But when the opportunity arose to join those who took to the skies with such awe-inspiring maneuvers, he decided to put his name in for consideration. It was almost a natural flow from flight instructor to the high-skill piloting of a Snowbird, and that launched the first three seasons (2010-2012) that Maj Dupont had with the Snowbirds.
Following the 2012 season, Maj Dupont made a switch to search and rescue, flying the CH-149 Cormorant helicopter out of 19 Wing Comox on Vancouver Island for three years. The job was rewarding and exactly what Maj Dupont said he needed to be doing at the time—navigating difficult skies, hoisting people to safety and, ultimately, helping people in need. The major said it is “one of the best jobs in the Air Force, for sure.”
When he was presented the opportunity to join the Snowbirds again, Maj Dupont returned to 15 Wing Moose Jaw. He spent a year as the Deputy Commanding Officer for 431 Sqn and has been Snowbird 1 Team Lead since 2019.