Quinte West, Ontario Canada — It is curious how some people can tell you how long it has been since there has been an air show in their community. It is like they count in dog years. One year seems like seven. So imagine if your community has been without an airshow for seven years. That is forty-nine dog years. It is even worse when there is a major air force base in your community.
This is the predicament residents of Quinte West Ontario Canada have been in since their last show in 2009. Quinte West is the home of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton. This base is the gateway for air transport operations in Canada and worldwide. So when it was announced that the Quinte International Air Show was scheduled for June 24/25, Air Museum Network made it a point to be present.
This air show commemorates the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and the endeavour of training over 131000 aircrew, from the different countries of the Commonwealth, in training facilities built across Canada during World War II.
Flying lead in this commemoration was the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster MK X. This statement should be requalified as…. Canada’s Avro Lancaster. Yes, the aircraft is owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum but it belongs to Canada. This aircraft represents the Canadians and the sacrifices they made during World War II. It is also an ambassador of the commonwealth, representing all those young men who as part of the British Commonwealth Training Plan (BCATP) went to Canada for their flight training. This show was dedicated to the BCATP and the legacy it left behind.
Air shows are not just measured by the aircraft performing or on static display. Think about it…..Lancaster, B-25, Scott “Scooter” Yoak in his P-51D, The CF-18, USAF F-22 and Canadian Snow Bird Flight demonstration teams….. of course it is going to be awesome. Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association’s T-6’s in formation, Tommy Williams and his P51D, Rick Volker’s freestyle T-6 “Harvardbatics”,CC-130’s, CC-117 Globemaster III, banana passes galore……It can only be Sublime…..But that doesn’t mean a hill a beans if attention is only paid to 180 of the whole 360 Degrees.
Air shows are measured by the nuts and bolts, by every little factor and detail. At first, the thought of paying $75 dollars for an early bird ticket (two hours before gates open) appeared ludicrous and a bit steep, but as the crowd came out and reports of traffic backing up to the 401, the price began to seem reasonable. The ability to park close to the gate and photograph the static aircraft with few spectators around is a plus. If that is too much for your wallet, there was the option to pay a regular fair priced ticket.
On route to the air base from the 401, Canadian troops could be seen at intersections politely guiding spectators to the gate and parking areas. Buses shuttled the fans to the security check points. Spectators waited their turn as security checked every diaper bag, camera bag, fanny pack and back pack and everybody got in. The Canadian troops manned every station, from parking and gate security to trash detail. Everything was done without arrogance and with a smile.
There was plenty to see and do if flying aircraft wasn’t your thing. Plenty of local community vendors were on hand and the Canadian troops had plenty of displays to keep people of all ages entertained. Food vendors were located at the ends of the apron with adequate seating so spectators could sit down and eat or just take a load off.
But it can’t all be that good. No this is true. Water stations! When the day began, there was only water being sold in the food areas which were at the either end of the apron. There were plenty of Ice cream stations, but none seemed to be selling water. As the day progressed however, water filling stations were deployed and the Canadian troops were handing out water (with a special commemorative label) to anyone who stopped by the tent. Hydration was the order of the day.
What else can be said about an air show that kicks off with the Skyhawk s (Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team) delivering the base commander Colonel Colin Keiver in a tandem jump? That’s right! ….The base commander was part of the show. The point being made here is, that air shows are a celebration for the base and the surrounding communities. Spectators shouldn’t be made to feel that they are unwanted or that the Military is doing them a big favor for putting on the event. The RCAF understands this and they did it right. Maybe the commander of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and those responsible for the Power in the Pine Air Show should take a drive up north. Who knows, maybe they might learn something.
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