Air Affair a salute to aviation history

Aviation history — from its graceful, wooden past to its supersonic, after-burning present — will be saluted at the Red Deer Regional Airport June 13.

Aviation history — from its graceful, wooden past to its supersonic, after-burning present — will be saluted at the Red Deer Regional Airport June 13.

Air Affair will feature dozens of vintage airplanes and an appearance by a Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 in all its ear-splitting glory during the all-day celebration tied in to a 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada.

Organized by the Harvard Historical Aviation Society, Air Affair features a full day of activities at the Springbrook airport for those willing to let their spirits slip the surly bonds of earth.

Visitors can climb into a biplane for a taste of flying from the days of barnstorming or hop into a basket and rise above the airport in a tethered balloon.

Historical society president Jodi Smith said the buzz has already begun.

“People are really high on the hot air balloon rides and the open-cockpit biplane rides,” she said.

Balloon rides begin at 7 a.m. and cost $10 per person. Biplane rides cost $120 per two-person load.

There will be plenty of history on display with a classic car and antique airplane show and shine that begins at 8 a.m. and is free of charge.

Red Deer Cruiser Club and the Foothills Car Club will take over three-quarters of the airport parking lot to showcase their gleaming examples of road royalty. “I think they have room for about 80 cars and they’re figuring they will fill,” Smith said.

More than 200 historic aircraft owners from across Canada have been invited to showcase their winged wonders, and if the weather co-operates there could be 40 to 50 vintage planes touch down at the airport near Penhold.

Smith said the event ties into the Back to Baddeck coast-to-coast relay organized by the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association to mark a century of powered, heavier-than-air, controlled flight in Canada. It all began with J.A.D. McCurdy in the Silver Dart on the frozen surface of the Bras d’Or Lakes near Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

The relay using vintage planes provided by participating museums began in Nova Scotia in March and crosses and re-crosses the country in stages until it returns to the Nova Scotia International Air Show in Yarmouth in September. The Penhold leg will see a restored Harvard trainer make the trip from the Red Deer Regional Airport to Wetaskiwin.

If weather allows, a CF-18 will swoop in at 9 a.m. The jet fighter is making an appearance as part of 24 Red Deer Royal Air Cadet Squadron’s annual parade and inspection, which is set for noon.

The historical society is also planning to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on the site of the future $5 million aviation museum planned for the airport. Red Deer County has already donated land for the museum, which will house vintage planes and other exhibits.

Smith said the society also plans to host a special tribute to the 65th anniversary of Andrew Mynarski’s heroic effort to save a friend in a burning bomber during the Second World War. Mynarski was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

Those who come early can start with a pancake breakfast that begins at 7:30 a.m. The cost is $7 for adults and $4 for children six and over.

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