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

.
SHARE: Stunning vistas of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

City hall is asking for public input on its greenhouse gas reduction plans.
Maple Ridge wants citizen input on greenhouse gas targets

City hall to host an online webinar on Thursday

Pitt Meadows United Church has a new Expression Station, to create a record of people’s feelings during this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to The News)
Closed by COVID-19, Pitt Meadows church offers Expression Station

Say what you need to say in this pandemic time, offers United Church

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

On Monday, March 1, 2021, Maple Ridge is hosting an information session on Choose to Move, a fitness program for people 65 and older. (Maple Ridge image)
Maple Ridge seniors invited to information session on free fitness program

Learn about the program for those 65 and older on Monday, March 1

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read