The Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour is launched out of Rocky

The home-grown Canada 150 project seeks to unite north and south

Acrobatic fliers from Central Alberta will wow crowds in remote Inuit communities this summer as part of the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour.

Pilots Ken and Kyle Fowler and Jerzy Strzyz from Rocky Mountain House, and David and Drew Watson from Ponoka will be among 15 stunt fliers from Western Canada and the U.S. who will entertain in the skies above 98 northern centres from June 2 to Aug. 4.

The pilots plan to land in 46 of the spots to participate in unique local festivals and celebrations. After determining which northern settlements desired an air show, project organizers from Rocky Mountain House asked participating communities to bring something of their own to the table by organizing a cultural event around the flying demonstrations.

“We wanted to approach this in a respectful way,” said the tour’s executive-director Nancy McClure, since the goal was to deepen understanding between Canadians, and help facilitate the reconciliation of this nation’s indigenous people.

Memorable experiences should be had by all — considering not many air shows happen north of 60. “I would say none,” added McClure, who’s been helping plan this non-profit Canada 150 project since 2015.

Since the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour is based out of Rocky and organized by the same people who put on the Rocky air show every other year, a kick-off celebration was held Wednesday at the Rocky Mountain House airport, with demo flights and airplane displays.

McClure anticipates the pilots will face many unfamiliar circumstances in the far north. “There will be no paved air strips and very unpredictable weather at the top of the world, where it can be winter in early August.” Fuel will have to transported up with the planes.

The first air show is Friday above Fort Liard, NWT, where a dance festival will be held. On Canada Day, pilots will be above Baker Lake, Nunavut. The tour will wrap up in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where residents will celebrate the opening of a new airport. The pilots will also perform across the Yukon, Northern Quebec and Labrador.

The privately sponsored tour, described as an adventurous “home-grown initiative,” was designed to bring far-flung parts of the country closer together. McClure said we often hear only troubling news from the north, but this is a positive story.

If some northerners are inspired to become pilots, so much the better, she added. More information is available at caat2017.com.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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