The Vanderhoof Airport buzzed with activity once again after what has been two consecutive years without an international airshow.
People of all ages got to get close up and personal with various aircraft on display as well witness a parachute drop and more Saturday, Sept. 11 during Airport Day.
President of the Vanderhoof Airport Society, Dr. Paul Collard, estimates that between 200 to 300 individuals had dropped by.
“I think it was very successful,” Collard said. “The weather was nice. We had people fly over from across the province and introduced a lot of people to the hangars at the airport and things they can do up here.”
Aircraft maintenance and repair engineer Royce Schaff was among those helping to answer questions while youngsters explored the inside of a small airplane RDS Aviation is working to restore.
The former commercial aircraft from southern B.C. was used for skydiving. Once back into the air, Schaff said it will help him and his staff cut down on travel time as they make trips to the Yukon in areas where no one is doing maintenance work on aircraft.
“I like having everybody around,” Schaff said of Airport Day. “It’s nice to show people that we’re doing a lot more up here than I think a lot of people realize.”
Before becoming an aircraft maintenance and repair engineer, which Schaff called an avenue to get out of logging, he said as a child he would help his father work on their airplane that they would fly from Vancouver Island to Vanderhoof for fishing.
RDS Aviation, which Schaff owns, currently employs three full-time and three part-time staff, including high school students who repair planes from across northern B.C. and Yukon.
He said he hopes Airport Day inspired those attending to not only think about potentially getting involved with aircraft maintenance but to get their pilot’s license or even ask to go on a ride.
Throughout Airport Day, Vanderhoof resident Daniel Albertson flew several of his battery-powered remote control (RC) planes, including a model P-51 Mustang, a fighter bomber used during the Second World War.
After starting a family, he said he had decided to keep things safer by sticking with RC planes, although he did fly his self-described ‘experimental’ aircraft that he had once landed successfully despite engine failure a few last times.
Albertson recalled as a child sitting atop hay bales watching in the distance airplanes, most likely from Prince George, fly over his family home.
“I think this is great to have kids come out and learn a little bit more about aircraft, about the possibilities for careers and just for private enjoyment. It’s an opportunity,” he said of Airport Day.
Normally, Albertson would have been found flying his RC airplanes on a grassy field at home.
“For me, I like showing the kids,” he added. “It’s pretty exciting for them. It’s something they can get close and watch.”