Members of Ponoka county and the Town soared above Ponoka and countryside on Sept. 16 and gained insight into the operations of the Ponoka Industrial Airport—Labrie Field.
The tour, hosted by John Jeffries of Triad Aviation Ltd., was meant to show dignitaries how money and time were spent and familiarize them with the purpose and daily happenings at the airport.
Members of the community offered the use of their planes for the tour. Blair Vold, owner of Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Mart, provided his Cessna 340, Don Evernden his Cessna 208B and Dr. Perry Wilson lent his Beech Baron 55 for the occasion.
Brad Watson, chief administrative officer for the Town of Ponoka, had the opportunity to fly in the plane and was able to speak with pilots and staff at the airport.
“It was exceptionally informative,” said Watson. “It identified the issues with respect to some of the issues of those who use the facility.”
Members of the Town and County of Ponoka were briefed on the needs and challenges facing the airport such as the need to maintain the runway and taxiways, the importance of removing a line of trees surrounding the airport as well as a recent gopher problem. Also presented was the idea of extending the 941 metre runway to accommodate larger aircraft.
The tour took the passengers over to other local airports including Rimbey and Lacombe to see how Ponoka compares and, judging from the view from the plane, Watson says that Ponoka’s airport is of high quality.
“Out of all of them, we have one of the nicest, if not the nicest, airport in the area,” he said.
Ponoka County and the Town also saw firsthand the benefits of the newly implemented GPS Instrument Approach system and safety practices.
John Jeffries, owner of Triad Aviation Ltd, was pleased to host members of the Town and County and believes that the experience is a benefit to both the airport and Ponoka.
“It acquaints and familiarizes the town and county with the operations out of the airport and the economic feasibilities,” said Jeffries.
Jeffries says that, although there are private airplane owners at the airport, there are a lot of people that fly in and out of there for business.
Jeffries believes that the Ponoka Industrial Airport has a large socio-economic impact on the county and town and is a notable local business and transportation hub. The potential for this airport is huge.
“The airport, to Ponoka, is considerable through commercial and corporate use,” he said.
Watson also feels that the airport is a positive facility to have in the area and is impressed with the ways it is utilized.
“The airport is important to the economic benefit of our community,” he said. “We have business people that use it extensively. There are companies and individuals delivering and picking up parts or people, etc. It is busy for business purposes.”
Special to the airport is that it is the only airport in Central Alberta with the CANPASS service which allows aircraft to quickly clear customs into Canada at Ponoka rather than at Calgary or Edmonton.
The Ponoka Industrial Airport—Labrie Field is located just south of Ponoka on Highway 2A. The airport boasts of two aircraft maintenance facilities on the field that is open all year long. At the airport there are no landing fees and there is also onsite fuel and maintenance service available.