What does the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, CF-18 Demo Team, Super Dave Mathieson, John Melby, Manfred Radius, Stefan Trischuk, Brent Handy, Marcus Paine, Geoff Latter and the Flash Fire Jet Truck all have in common? An evening of amazement, sky-high excitement and another bucket list tick, as I have never had the privilege of attending an airshow nor seeing these aircraft in person.
As I walked up to the exhibited aircraft I realized they were much bigger then I imagined, especially seeing the exposed jet engines on display gave me an appreciation of the technology and power that backs the aircraft. I could see from the crowd I wasn’t the only one astonished by all the variety of planes and trying to take photos from all different angles and zooms, but most importantly we were all getting excited the show was about to start! Everyone was securing their vantage spots and choosing snacks from the many different vendors.
The show kicked off with an extensive display of gravity defying acrobatics that left many viewers, me included, on the edge of our seats. When I thought it couldn’t get any better the Canadian Force Snowbirds thundered in to steal the show. They glimmered in the setting sun and at times looked like a flock of migratory birds, as they gracefully soared metres from each other high above the crowd. The 2015 Fort St. John International Air Show at the North Peace Regional Airport once again confirmed the pure talent and skills these pilots have and the dedication of many years of practice. With the sun slowly setting, the crowd growing larger and more air performances still to come, the air felt energetic and reminded me of the time I got an opportunity to fly with an acrobatic pilot. The excitement I felt before I jumped into the co-pilot seat, before this experience I only flew in a small aircraft once and it was a float plane, so no exciting stunts offered on that flight.
So, a few years back I got an opportunity to fly with a gentlemen that was an acrobatic flyer. Right from the start I was told to hold the controls to experience the takeoff, 15 minutes into the flight he started with what he did best…air acrobatics…needless to say after several turns, nose dives and loops I wasn’t feeling my best (I have never had a strong stomach and normally I don’t even go on roller coasters…not sure why I agreed to this flight in the first place!) Regardless of my nausea, this experience sparked my obsession with aircraft…next I tried out helicopters, but in the end I found a niche. I fell in love with hot air ballooning! The calm and quite as you glide over the landscape, the notion only a woven basket is keeping you safe and the quite hiss of the air filling the balloon is an experience as thrilling as looping through the sky a few hundred metres off the ground. I can’t wait for the next Fort St John International Airshow in 2017! My only wish is that the event would be held annually, so I can get my aircraft fix on a regular basis.
Interesting Fact: The North Peace Regional Airport has a fascinating history spanning to the late 1930’s of ownership and construction. The Department of Transport first initiated the purchase of the site and constructed a landing strip. When the US entered the war the American contractors completed the work and eventually the US Air Force took on the construction of a new facility, which today is the location of the North Peace Regional Airport. At the end of the war Canada bought all of the facilities that were constructed by the US and again the Department of Transport was responsible for the site. Under the National Airports Policy the North Peace Regional Airport became eligible for ownership by local interest. So, in 1997 the North Peace Airport Society signed documents transferring ownership from Transport Canada to the Society. The Society membership consists of Peace River Regional District Areas B & C, District of Taylor, District of Hudson’s Hope and the City of Fort St. John. The citizens of the North Peace are the owners of the North Peace Regional Airport.