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Red Deer airport poised to offer aviation thrills

Goal is to make airshow and air racing annual events at Red Deer Regional Airport

Red Deer Regional Airport is poised to become a yearly destination for the hottest rides in aviation.

The Canadian International Air Races is billed as the fastest motorsport on earth and will pit Formula 1 Pylon Racers in head-to-head contests for air supremacy bragging rights.

It will be one of the big draws at the Red Deer Regional Airshow, which runs July 29-30 at the airport south of the city. There will be no shortage of high-octane thrills with a planned appearance in all its after-burning glory by a jet from the Canadian Forces CF-18 Demo Team as well as two shows by the famous Canadian Forces Snowbirds as well as parachuting displays by the Canadian Forces SkyHawks.

Jeanette Bancarz, chair of the Canadian International Air Racing Society, said Red Deer’s pylon racing event will be only the second time an event of its kind has been held in Canada. The last was in Saskatchewan in 1985.

“There is no other community in Canada that has this opportunity right now. Red Deer will be the battleground for air racing.

“We’ve seen Red Bull racing. But that is one aircraft on a timed course. This will be several aircraft racing at the same time,” she said on Wednesday at Red Deer Regional Airport Authority’s annual public meeting where the year’s upcoming events and last year’s achievements were showcased.

Bancarz said the society looked at a few sites before picking Red Deer airport, which offered a central location and relatively low numbers of residents living in the immediate area. She also credits the efforts of local representatives for pitching the area’s merits.

“Quite frankly, of all the places we looked at the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County had been the most welcoming.”

She also credited airport officials for helping navigate all of the Transport Canada regulations that surround an event that will see Pylon Air Racers race in souped-up planes on a fixed course. Flyers soar around the pylons only 15 metres above the ground at upwards of 400 km/h.

This year’s racing is being used as a demonstration event to prepare for full-blown air races next year.

Reno, Nevada is famous for hosting air racing since 1964. But this year will be the last year for the event, which means racers will be looking for other venues to compete and show off their skills, she said.

Eldon Gjesdal, society vice-chair, said Alberta has two talented Formula 1 air racers, one in Edmonton and the other in Calgary.

“We’re trying to create an event where we can have them practise what they enjoy doing,” he said. “Up until now, the only place they got to practise was in Reno.”

The association hopes to make air racing in Red Deer an annual event that will provide a major ongoing economic boost.

Red Deer’s airshow will be the first held in at least 20 years at the airport. The plan is for it to also become an annual event, as it was for many years beginning in the early 1980s.

Also happening as part of the weekend’s activities will be Props and Pistons, which will feature a vehicle show and shine and static aircraft displays.

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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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