Visitors to the Ponoka Airport on July 10 were treated to the sight of planes landing near the tarmacs, and some fly overs from planes and helicopters during the Central Alberta Air Tour.
The event, initiated by pilot and MLA for Lac St. Anne-Parkland Shane Getson, was well-attended by Ponoka aviation enthusiasts of all ages who got up close and personal with the aircrafts and their pilots.
The purpose of the event was to highlight the importance of the aviation industry and how local airports can play a role in Alberta’s economic recovery.
A couple of air tours were held last year in some communities in Alberta.
“Communities learn a little bit about aviation in Alberta. A lot of flying happens here and brings in a lot of dollars, actually, to our province as well,” said Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, who was recently named the Minister of Culture.
Orr added that aviation is a growing field in the province.
Mayor Rick Bonnett also brought greetings from the town.
Bonnett welcomed the pilots to Ponoka, as well as the community members who came out for the event.
“It’s really nice to finally see people out again,” he said.
Ponoka County Coun. Bryce Liddle and Neil McLaren, chair of the Ponoka Flying Club, which owns and operates the airport, also spoke.
“We’re trying really hard to grow the airport and serve this community,” said McLaren.
He added that although a lot of people may not know it, Ponoka is actually an international airport.
Ponoka’s airport also sees about 100 medical take-offs and landings a year, as well as businesses who fly in and out of the airport, says McLaren.
“We’re Canadians, we’re Albertans, we’re proud, strong people, but we don’t promote ourselves enough,” said Getson, adding that bringing the pilots into communities is an opportunity to show the pilots why they should return.
“Ponoka … wow, just wow — you guys pulled out the red carpet for us.”
Getson says that one of these “little planes” generates $135,000 into local economies, according to a study.
“Even at a local level, aviation gets things going, and thank goodness COVID is over and we can actually get out and enjoy the sunshine together, so thanks Ponoka for having us. This is wonderful, and we’ll definitely be back.”