CLINTON, ONT -- Remembrance Day will look very different this year thanks to COVID-19. Many cenotaph services have restricted access to keep visitor numbers low, or cancelled altogether.

But some towns in southwestern Ontario will be getting a special military message from above come Wednesday, thanks in part to a group of friends from Huron and Middlesex counties.

“The pilot is actually a mutual friend of mine, an old high school friend. One of our friends from Strathroy came up with the idea. He said, there’s not a lot going on for Remembrance Day. A lot of the cenotaphs will be closed. So, we asked the pilot, what about doing a flyby over the school,” says Matt Den Hollander from Exeter, Ont.

The pilot, Captain Derek Pasma from the London area, agreed. Following some back and forth with the military, it was decided that Pasma and his Hercules military plane would be touring parts of Ontario on Wednesday, flying as low as 500 feet so folks can get a good lock at part of Canada’s military might.

“Honouring, commemorating the troops, the fallen troops, the military today, the veterans. I know a lot of legions aren’t doing special activities as usual, so what a perfect way to see one of our planes up in the sky,” says Den Hollander.

Pasma will be starting in Toronto at 9:27 a.m. Wednesday morning, with flybys happening over:

  • Barrie at 9:48 a.m.
  • Breslau at 10:07 a.m.
  • Clinton at 10:25 a.m.
  • Strathroy at 10:40 a.m.
  • South London at 10:50 a.m.
  • ending at London’s Victoria Park Cenotaph at 11 a.m.

The Hercules will flying so low to the ground the military needed special clearance from the cities and towns to participate. Den Hollander hopes the Hercules flyby will become commonplace at Remembrance Day ceremonies in the future.

“I think we hope that this could become something. But, it’s a lot of paperwork to get the military on board. I think they thought it was a good idea, as well. And, now they’re doing it,” says Den Hollander.