Ponoka’s airport, Labrie Field, continued to be functional before and during the Ponoka Stampede week to allow a number of cowboys to join in the competition arriving in town by air.
While the increase in traffic was not as high as in previous years, explained airport commission chairperson Brian West, it does show the ease of travelling into Canada using the CANPASS program — available in Ponoka — which allows low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada.
West says pilots must be CANPASS approved and contact customs before arrival and provide their flight plan, and if there is a reason to, meet customs representatives in Ponoka after they land. During the Stampede week, there were four cowboys who flew up from the United States to participate in the rodeo.
The airport is also getting busier with businesses using Ponoka as a base where they fly to different areas of the province. West looks forward to a new study that has been commissioned by the Town and County of Ponoka.
He feels it will help planners “see where we can attract businesses to come to Ponoka and the Ponoka airport.”
One improvement he would like to see is an expanded runway. “With the current property we could probably add another 600 feet.”
The runway is approximately 3,000 feet and the addition would allow larger planes to land and take off in Ponoka.
West praised the new town council for working closely with the Airport Commission and for working to improve all aspects of Ponoka.
He says events such as the upcoming 1/8th mile drag race coming up will also benefit the image of the airport.