VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Four-year-old Ethan Fritz waves at his dad with his mom Alyssa, from the end of White Rock Pier. Pilot TK Minzak – who flies reserve for the U.S. Air Force, organized the fly-by after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Ethan Fritz, 4, had a message for his dad, pilot TK Minzak Friday (Aug. 7). (Tracy Holmes photo)
Four-year-old Ethan Fritz looks for the incoming U.S. Air Force transport plane piloted by his dad TK Minzak, who organized a fly-by of the White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning, after months of not being able to see Ethan due to border restrictions during the pandemic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
A U.S. Air Force C17, piloted by Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, flies over White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning. (Star Hannah photo)
Ethan Fritz, his mom and other family members watch as the C17 transport plane piloted by Ethan’s dad returns to U.S. skies. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Friday was a big day for Surrey youngster Ethan Fritz – after months of separation due to pandemic-related border restrictions, he got to see his daddy.

Well, sort of.

One thing is for certain: the visit – in the form of a U.S. Air Force transport plane over White Rock Pier – caught the attention of waterfront residents and visitors.

Acknowledging it likely took at least a few people off-guard – one woman who called Peace Arch News described the unexpected sighting of the “huge” craft as “so close… so scary” – Ethan’s mom Alyssa Fritz said there simply wasn’t time to spread the word in advance.

“I was in-between if it was a good or a bad idea,” she said. “I couldn’t pass it up, my son seeing his dad.

“We all went out of our way to make it happen.”

Four-year-old Ethan has only seen his dad, Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, through video calls since his birthday in early March, Fritz explained, and the separation has been difficult for someone so young to understand.

“When you’re four, it’s really hard,” she said.

“With the way things are and just the job that his dad does… it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to see him anytime soon.”

Minzak, who is originally from Texas, is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and flies reserve for the U.S. Air Force, Fritz continued. Pre-pandemic, she and Ethan routinely travelled to Seattle for family visits.

But that all came to an end in March.

READ MORE: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

Thursday night, however, Fritz received news that Minzak had organized a special visit for Ethan – permission to do a low-level fly-by of the White Rock Pier in the C17 transport plane he was piloting for a training exercise.

Ethan, his mom and several family members gathered at the end of the pier for the occasion. Minzak was to approach from the direction of Point Roberts and make two passes before returning to U.S. air space.

As the plane appeared in the distance, the excitement built.

“Look, just for you,” Fritz exclaimed to Ethan as the plane came in for its first pass and did a ‘wing wiggle’ greeting. “He’s waving.”

After, Fritz said Ethan couldn’t wait to share the experience with his friends at daycare.

“He was just so happy and excited,” she said.

“It’s not like a deployment,” she noted of Minzak’s absence. “It’s like, his dad is right there and we just can’t get to him.

“Today, it was like a visual – ‘my daddy’s there.’”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronaviruswhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Climate emergency stems from decades of inaction by governments

Earth Guardians non-partisan and don’t receive any grant funding

Big changes, but Tour de Rock rolls on

Chemainus alumni rider in the group starting at the Legion next Monday

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley seeks reelection

Routley has served as MLA for the area since 2005.

Rotary Club members spruce up the Waterwheel Park bandshell

CVCAS venue receives the royal treatment of power washing and re-staining

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read