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)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)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)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)A U.S. Air Force C17, piloted by Lt.-Col. TK Minzak, flies over White Rock Pier Friday (Aug. 7) morning. (Star Hannah photo)
VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation
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)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

The Salmon Arm Economic Development Society released a video on Feb. 22, 2021 promoting agriculture and food production in Salmon Arm and the Shuswap. (SAEDS image)
New video promotes Salmon Arm staples of agriculture, food production

Three-minute video from economic development featuring local producers receives appreciative reviews

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES photo)
UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon

January 2021 data shows of 95 opioid samples tested across Interior Health, 93 contained fentanyl

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Veteran Vernon radio announcer Frank Martina is returning to the local airwaves with his popular Saturday Classics show, which will run from 1-4 p.m. on Vernon’s new community station Valley FM, set to launch in the fall of 2021. (Morning Star - file photo)
Vernon radio announcer returning to airwaves

New community station Valley FM reaches deal with Frank Martina to air his Classics show

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, before she knew she would change literature. Photo Wikipedia
And Then There Were None

What book knocked your booties off when you were young?

Most Read