Representatives from The Canadian Tribune took to the skies above eastern Alberta in the provincial Alberta Air Tour this summer. Launching out of Lloydminster, a dignitary welcome and pilot briefing was followed by their arrival in St. Paul.
The 186 Lloydminster Air Cadet Squadron was on hand to provide a pancake breakfast.
Katlin Ducherer, Economic Development Officer with Lloydminster, noted that ”The Alberta Air Tour is an exciting opportunity to showcase the Lloydminster Airport and the aviation industry. This unique event will raise awareness surrounding investment opportunities to the Lloydminster Airport and the region.”
The mayor, Gerald Aalbers, also commented, adding that “The City of Lloydminster is excited to host the Alberta Air Tour, and we’re proud to partner in this event. Hosting events such as the air tour is a great opportunity to draw attention to the region and showcase the Lloydminster Airport as a destination in Western Canada for innovation and investment.”
After lunch, the tour concluded in Cold Lake. Over 40 aircraft flew in from across Alberta, including aerobatic, fighter, and racing planes. The Lloydminster official website noted everything from “Cessnas to Mooney’s, helicopters, an F1 rocket and a long-EZ.”
The tour’s mission? "To demonstrate the value of general aviation by inspiring and educating the general public through positive direct interaction with a group of visiting aviators touring small community airports."
TCT’s participation was due to the generosity of organizer Dina Jammaz, Air Traffic Controller for NAV CANADA and the Industry & Indigenous Relations representative of Elevate Aviation. Lakeland Today describes the group as “a non-profit group which promotes women’s success in aviation careers, said the concept grew from there into seeing an opportunity to promote Alberta’s communities on a broader scale and the Alberta Air Tour came into being.”
“It brings the town out and it brings their attention to the local aviation community and the economic development that could happen at each airport could be a huge benefit to each of the towns. Everybody is on board with this,” Jammaz said. “What an amazing turnout. This is exactly what we picture when we do one of these.”
“It’s an absolute pleasure to meet and work with members of our aviation community. This event has been incredible for building relationships with people across Alberta, whether it is members of the aviation community or those who love to watch airplanes.”
Dina added that “The Alberta Air Tours began as a result of the COVID pandemic in the spring of 2019. As the Director of Industry Relations for Elevate Aviation (a not-for-profit organization based out of Edmonton, providing a platform for women and underrepresented groups to thrive and succeed through careers in aviation) I saw an opportunity to give back to the aviation community that has supported us in our mission.
When the pandemic nearly shut down the entire aviation industry, we were able to use these tours to bring something new and exciting to the industry, bring awareness of the importance of general aviation and community airports to economic development, and promote general aviation to the communities we visit.”
Markets selling wares, shows and other activities awaited pilots upon touchdown. Volunteers staffing events were joined by locals who came out to see the panoply of different aircrafts lining the tarmac - or simply to talk to pilots.
“We instruct in the school, there’s people who own their own planes, those who are in a different trade, but they are all pilots, and we don’t get to meet each other so often,” said Gaurav Kashyap.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said commercial pilot Tom Giesbrecht. “We all enjoy what we do. It’s a great way of networking, getting together with other pilots. The aviation community is a very small world, you will meet someone along the line that knows someone who you know.”
Sherri Chisan, president of University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills, noted the following:
“I want to acknowledge this is a fabulous day. It’s a great turnout of planes and people and we’ve had several conversations with Town and County about developing our partnerships and talking about some interesting things around the airport. “Because we are a university, and this is an airport … what about a flight school?”
Mayors and political representatives both big and small also joined in on the celebration. “This tour gives us a chance to showcase our community to the rest of the aviation world,” said Mayor Craig Copeland, Cold Lake. “It’s going to be a real treat to see these aircraft coming in to our community. We’re honored to have been chosen as a stop on the 2022 tour.”
Mayor Maureen Miller (St. Paul) said it was “just amazing” to see the people who came out.
“I appreciate you taking the time to showcase St. Paul. We just redid all our runway lights in the last two years, and we are proud of our airport.”
MLA Dave Hanson and Shane Getson, both pilots, praised the event. “It’s great to have you here in St. Paul,” Hanson said. Getson, who represents Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, was approached by TCT for comment.
“The Alberta Air Tour was formed to bring interest, and information to local communities and their local airports,” he noted. “In addition, it was to allow the local communities to show off, to have some fun, and to express some western hospitality to visitors. Back in 2020 there weren’t too many things we could do as communities, but an open air event at an airport was well within reach.
Into our third year now of doing this, we have expanded our team to ensure that safety remains paramount, but still keeping that grass roots feel, and being able to allow the communities to meet the pilots, look at the aircraft, and help inspire people regarding aviation and aerospace.
The local communities, on this year's tour, have welcomed us with open arms, and been great ambassadors for their regions, opening our eyes as visitors about why we should return. It warms the heart, and makes me even more proud of our province.”
Maxine Fodness, deputy reeve for the County of St. Paul, also spoke praises about the occasion. “Today we have the opportunity to showcase our airport and to give recognition to small airports in Alberta. I’d like to thank Linda for all your help in coordinating this event “Not only are the planes flying high, the people of this community are, too. We are thrilled you came.”
However, the tour is far from over. Come August, the southern portion of the event will stop over in Medicine Hat, Claresholm and Biesker. We expect the event to be just as exciting as the first.