Vanderhoof Airshow on Today
Prince George, B.C. – Airplane enthusiasts from across north-central B.C. are congregating in Vanderhoof today for the 2016 Vanderhoof International Airshow.
The actual show runs today at the Vanderhoof airport but organizing committee member Tom Bulmer says Prince George-area residents may have noticed various aircraft flying through local airspace on Friday on their way to practice sessions which were held in advance of today’s display.
Bulmer says “gates open at 10 a.m. and there’s a gate fee of $5. That gate fee does not go to the airshow, it’s a fundraiser for our local groups that help us out, like the Nechako Valley Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountains Rangers, cadets etcetera.” So that’s the admission fee, 5 bucks for those aged 12 and over, under 12 gets in free.
Bulmer says “the first performance is actually biking. It’s the FMX performers, we have three of them coming and they sort of fit with an airshow because most of the stuff that they do is up in the air. They go from 11 until 12 noon. We have a lunch break at noon and will be hearing from dignitaries (mayor, MLA and MP) at that time, and then at 1 o’clock the actual flights begin and we’re planning to wrap it up by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, latest.”
There are 15 performers appearing at this year’s show, with 13 performances on the schedule. As far as a headliner goes Bulmer says “I would have to say Stefan Trischuk, he’s going to fly twice. He’s going to fly a weird little plane that a lot of people don’t know can do airshow work called a Pipistrel Virus, and he will also be fling in his super Pitts. This plane and the stuff he does in it is amazing.” That aircraft is a highly-modified 340 horsepower Pitts S2C biplane.
“The reason I would point him out is simply because he became the star of that TV series called “Airshow” and he was introduced to Vanderhoof audiences a couple of years back and is coming in a huge capacity this year.”
“But holy cow we’ve got the Yellow Thunder Harvards coming, we also have Bud and Ross Granley. Of course Bud has been around the airshow circuit for a million years!” And there are the warbirds which always prove to be flying fan favourites. The show features a P-38, an F4U Corsair, T-28 Trojan, Yaks and a fully-restored Nanchang CJ-6A from the Peoples Liberation Army.
Perhaps the greatest draw in this year’s WWll aircraft line-up is the B25 Mitchell known as “Grumpy”. The plane (right) began its life in 1943 training U.S. Army Airforce pilots. It was transferred in 1944 to work for the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained crews to fly B-24 Liberators against Southeast Asia. Following the war she joined auxiliary bombing units responsible for defending western Canada.
The airshow is followed by the Hangar dinner and dance at the airport. Dinner starts at about 6 pm, with entertainment supplied by the piano player for well-known B.C. entertainer Michael Buble. Bulmer says “he entertains us each year. It’s a very low-key thing but he comes up and does that for us. Then we have a couple of local acts that are well-received in town, that will perform. One guy kind of doing a solo folk thing in between the dinner and dance, and then the dance with a local classic rock/Top 40-type band that is very, very good.”
Dinner/Dance tickets are available from the Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce and their office will be staffed all day today. Call 250-567-2124 for more information. There may also be some tickets for sale right at the airport grounds.
Bulmer says the biennial airshow is a huge event for attracting visitors to the community. “In 2014 we had close to 4,000 (visitors), effectively doubling the population of Vanderhoof. We’re a 4,500 population town.” No figures were available for the show’s economic benefit to the community.
Bulmer notes that the airshow societies in Vanderhoof and Quesnel have an agreement to hold events in their respective communities in alternating years, giving each show the opportunity to attract a good crowd by offering the only event of its kind in this part of the province.
“We resurrected it (Vanderhoof Airshow) in 2011. We were going every year, we did 2011, ’12, ’13 and then in between 2013 and ’14 we talked with Quesnel, the Skyfest people there, and we both decided it would be best to leapfrog year-on-year. So Quesnel does the odd years and Vanderhoof does the even years.” Bulmer says “we made that agreement and it’s kind of nice, it gives the organizers of each airshow a break in between to re-coup and fire their engines up again for the next year. And you don’t have two airshows going in the same area of the province at the same time.”
“This way we get a quality airshow up in this area each year. Vanderhoof to Quesnel is not a far ride, we can go down there and enjoy their show next year.”
Bulmer says there will be several vendors on the airport grounds today should you get the munchies. “There’s everything from cotton candy to ice cream, burgers and fries to spicey greens food to everything in between. We’ll have all kids of stuff out there.”
“We do not charge vendors any fee whatsoever, what they make they take. They just come out and set up. Now we did restrict it this year because we had so many wanting to come out that we didn’t want 89 burger wagons and nothing else. So we’ve got a very diverse bunch of concessions out there.”
So again, gates at the Vanderhoof airport open at 10 this morning and the show runs until about 4pm.