New Pitt Meadows Airport terminal celebrated
Politicians, business owners and the aviation community gathered inside the new Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Terminal, to cut a ribbon to officially open the terminal, and celebrate the recent successes at YPK.
“To think that only a few short years ago the main terminal consisted of five double-wide portable trailers,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall. “Our regional airport right in Pitt Meadows is an emerging centre of aviation excellence within the provincial landscape,” he continued. “The main terminal has been transformed into a stunning two-level building that includes comfortable public and passenger viewing and waiting areas.”
There was a lot of appreciation voiced for Guy Miller, as the airport manager received kudos from the mayors of both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, and many other speakers, for the millions in investment he has attracted to the airport. There are new hangars, new businesses and new buildings there.
“Investors make the difference,” said Andrew Westlund of Sky Helicopters. “And Guy and all the people around him are making it possible for investors to dream.”
The new terminal building will be owned by Pacific Aircraft Services, and company spokesman Steven Madsen said the company was attracted to invest in Pitt Meadows because the airport has “amazing potential.”
“And our relationship with Guy was instrumental. He’s the driving engine,” said Madsen. Another speaker remarked “before Guy, the airport was built with a lot of tin shacks.”
“This airport is one of the fastest growing airports in British Columbia, and in North America” said Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare. “Our government knows and recognizes the importance of YPK to not only the local aviation community, but especially to our local economy.”
She noted the province contributed $1 million toward the airport in 2019, to provide apron rehabilitation, new paving and lighting.
Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton recalled there had been discussion in the 1990s about re-developing the land, and the question “do we even need an airport” was being asked. Now, he said, it has become an economic driver for the region and the province.
“What you’ve accomplished here is an amazing milestone, not only for the region, but for British Columbia,” said Dave Frank of the BC Aviation Council. He said airports “spin-off, high-value jobs. They create value-added business opportunities that do not exist in communities without airports,” he added.
There are 11 different flight schools operating out of the Pitt Meadows Airport.
“This is a world-class centre for flight schools,” said Frank, calling them “serious institutions of higher learning.”
Miller noted that four years ago, the runway needed paving and lighting, and there were old buildings and hangars “still battling on against Father Time.” Four years later while opening the “impressive state-of-the-art terminal building,” he said the rehabilitation of the airport has proceeded despite COVID-19 and its bludgeoning of the aviation industry. Miller noted that YPK lost 60-70 per cent of its takeoffs and landings “overnight” due to the pandemic.
“There were times I was sitting up in the office thinking “I’m not sure this is going to get done,’” he said, but praised the airport board for its vision in developing and revitalizing the airport.
(News Source & Photo: Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News, Neil Corbett)
Silver Wings Industry Award Nominations open
Nominations for 2022 BC Aviation Council Industry Awards can be submitted year round but must be into our office no later than August 31st, 2022, in order to be considered for the current year. Awards will be presented at the annual Silver Wings Awards event October 20, 2022, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Award categories include:
Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year - This BCAC trophy is awarded annually to a leading air industry individual or organization that advances aviation in BC through innovative product development, new business ventures, cost saving initiatives, creating new markets and contributing to the overall improvement and leadership of the air transportation network within BC. Submit a nomination.
William Templeton Award - The William Templeton Trophy is awarded annually for outstanding initiative and achievement in the successful development of a community airport, regional airport, heliport or floatplane landing facility by an individual, association, municipal government or company. Submit a nomination
BCAC Environmental Award - The environmental award is presented annually within the aviation industry of BC for an outstanding environmental initiative, program, or accomplishment in one or more areas of protection, rejuvenation and awareness. Submit a nomination.
Robert S. Day Trophy - The Robert S. Day Trophy is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding excellence, contribution and leadership of an individual or organization for the promotion and development of aviation in British Columbia, in keeping with the objectives of the BCAC. The individual or organization is to be BC-based with a recognizable contribution to BC. Submit a nomination.
Back and Bevington Air Safety Award - Back and Bevington Air Safety Trophy awarded annually for the most significant contribution to Air Safety in the Province of British Columbia. Submit a nomination.
The Robert Hope Pursuit of Excellence Award - This award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Aviation Industry in the field of Aircraft Maintenance. It is for dedication as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer with an underlying adherence to safety, the advancement of aviation, the dignity of the profession and the constant striving for the pursuit of excellence. Given on behalf of all Aircraft Maintenance Engineers and consistent with the objectives of the Pacific AME Association in memory of Robert Hope AME. Submit a nomination.
Lifetime Achievement Award - This award is presented in recognition of outstanding leadership, promotion and consistent contribution to the continuous development of aviation in the Province of British Columbia with accomplishments that will stand the test of time. Submit a nomination.
If you have any questions or encounter any difficulty submitting your nomination form, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kamloops flight training centre looks to future with new eco-friendly hangar
A 10,000 square foot eco-friendly aircraft hangar has been built at the Kamloops airport (YKA). It has a massive solar installation on its roof and provisions for the charging of electric aircraft once battery powered aircraft become more popular in Canada.
The hangar is used for flight training, aircraft parking and aircraft maintenance, and includes offices, classrooms, a flight simulator and additional room for future expansion, according to a Canadian Flight Centre media release.
The solar installation on its roof is the biggest one in Kamloops at 6,000 square feet. It serves the energy needs for the building with excess energy going to B.C. Hydro, and includes a supercharger for electric company vehicles as well as a heated flooring system.
“We wanted to create a place where aviation meets environment, while at the same time creating the first electric aviation hubs where pilots can land and charge their planes,” said Canadian Flight Centre CEO Peter Schliek in the release. “This is an essential requirement for the expansion of electric flight.”
Schliek said he is expecting electric aircraft to become more popular in Canada in the next couple of years and a network of charging stations is required across the country.
The Canadian Flight Centre had a grand opening for the environmentally sustainable hangar on Friday, June 24.
Canadian Flight Centre was founded in 1979 and has since trained thousands of pilots from all over the world at its bases in Pitt Meadows and Kamloops. The Kamloops base was opened 10 years ago to serve the local market and give access to more predictable weather patterns and less congested airspace to coastal pilot trainees, while the base in Pitt Meadows is a busy advanced training airport.
(Source: Shannon Ainslie, INFOnews.ca, Vernon, BC)
87-year-old pilot ends elite flying career with cross-country flight to N.B.
Past winner of the BCAC Lifetime Achievement award, George Miller's 68-year career at the controls ended at the airport that started it all.
"Nobody's flown that low at this airport in 20 years."
That quip came from a Miramichi-Chatham Airport employee about 87-year-old George Miller's visit in his 1940s-era Ryan Navion. Roaring by the eastern New Brunswick airport under a blazing sun, the Navion's unpainted silver fuselage reflected so much sunlight it stung the eyes. The plane has a 1950s sci-fi movie spaceship vibe, from back when the future was made of chrome.
George Miller's storied career culminates with a flight across Canada and a parked piece of history. Aircraft fanatics would recognize its fighter plane lineage. Designed by the same company that built the legendary Second World War P-51 Mustang, the Navion emits a throaty growl as it flies by. They don't make planes like this anymore. And on this spring afternoon, the Navion came out of the sky for the last time, touching down at the Miramichi-Chatham Airport. It will never fly again. Neither will its pilot.
"I just love that airplane," said George Miller. "And I know that it'll be hard to finally take the last look at it. It's a real gut-wrencher to give it up."
After spending 68 years in the air, George Miller is saying good-bye to flying and good-bye to his Navion, flying it across Canada to donate it to a New Brunswick museum.
Born on Fogo Island off Newfoundland's north shore in 1935, Miller recalls being enraptured by a float plane delivering supplies to the island when he was just six years old. On his 18th birthday, he signed up with the RCAF. For the next 35 years he was a fighter pilot. And it was this little New Brunswick airport that gave him his start.
'A crazy career'
In his early air force days, Miller says the first transonic fighter jets, planes capable of flying as fast as the sound, were just coming into service. He put in a request to be trained to fly them. To this day, he still can't believe it was granted. Miller moved to New Brunswick and started training to fly CF-86 Sabre fighter planes, an aircraft first flown against Russian MiGs in the Korean War. The airport was a military hub then, much bigger than the humble airstrip it is today.
"This was our major, major fighter base, like Cold Lake is right now in Alberta," said Miller. "It's part of my soul, really, because I grew up with it," said Miller of the Miramichi-Chatham Airport. "I was so involved with, and so engrossed with the whole fighter business and the air force."
Miller's first tour in 1955 was flying Sabres in Germany in the early years of the Cold War.
"Basically, that was to counter the impending Russian threat because the Russians... They really had plans on moving into Europe and the threat was real," said Miller. "And then, of course, we'd be in the Third World War."
He eventually upgraded to the Canadair CF-104 Starfighter, a jet capable of flying at twice the speed of sound. It was also capable of nuclear strikes, carrying US-supplied nuclear weapons.
After piloting the Starfighters in Germany, Miller was transferred to Sardinia, Italy where he trained Canadian pilots on transporting and deploying nuclear weapons. Miller ran a sea survival school, training pilots who ejected or parachuted over water how to survive. He also spent time in the 1970s in Kingston, Ont., as the director of the Air Force Staff College, and then was sent to Egypt when that country was entering into peace talks with Israel.
"That was an amazing time in my career … and they gave me one year of intensive Arabic language training, so I became bilingual in Arabic… And I had some crazy missions across the 'no man's land.' I was often in the centre of it, trying to get intelligence for the Canadian government." said Miller. After stints in Israel and Sudan, Miller retired after 35 years in the RCAF.
"That was a crazy career," he said.
Hawks and Snowbirds
Miller was also part of both of Canada's high-flying air force stunt squads. His talent flying those first Sabres landed him a spot on the 1962 Golden Hawks squad. The Golden Hawks would showcase high-speed maneuvers and stunts at airshows, wowing crowds across the country.
In 1973, he went to Moose Jaw, Sask., to help fashion the newly formed Snowbirds flight squadron into a national aerobatic team; the Snowbirds still perform across Canada today.
Miller eventually formed his own flying aerobatic team after retirement, the Fraser Blues, flying alongside his son, putting on shows throughout British Columbia. Miller's plane for those shows was the Navion. But despite still being in excellent health, this was the year to give up flying, he said.
"I feel very capable of flying, there's no problem there," he said. "But I think it's good to be sensible. I've done enough 'hundred-dollar hamburger' type trips, where you spend a hundred dollars in gas for a $15-dollar hamburger."
When Miller started selling his beloved Navion, he spoke to Kevin Anderson, the executive director and founder of the New Brunswick Aviation Museum. Anderson has been working since 2013 to create a museum showcasing the province's aviation history. The current museum collection sits in a hangar off the tarmac at the Miramichi–Chatham airport. It already includes George Miller's flight suits from both the Golden Hawks and Snowbirds. It will now also include the Navion.
Kevin Anderson, executive director and the founder of the New Brunswick Aviation Museum, is grateful for Miller's donated plane. Miller decided to cancel the sale of his plane and donate it to the fledging museum.
"Well, I had a pretty big smile on, I'll say that much," said Anderson. "The reason that it was important for us to get it is that with the Golden Hawks being formed here in 1959 they were a huge part of Canada's aerobatic team history," said Anderson.
Trip of a lifetime
Miller decided to deliver the Navion to New Brunswick himself, making the final flight from his home in Langley, B.C. His plan was to wait for good weather in early summer to fly across the country one last time. But on May 1st, as he was going to bed, he checked the weather on his phone. He was shocked to find the perfect tailwind flowing across Canada.
"I couldn't believe it," said Miller. "It was from coast to coast. This was a Sunday, and I said, 'I'm leaving Monday,' and I did."
The perfect co-pilot
But at 87 years of age, Miller knew he couldn't complete the trip alone. With any older plane, maintenance and upkeep is a constant variable, so he'd need someone who wasn't just along for the ride. He chose 27-year-old engineer Freya Inkster.
"She's an absolutely wonderful maintenance engineer," said Miller.
A pilot herself, she maintains about 30 to 40 airplanes, including Miller's, and said she was honoured when he asked her to help him make his final flight. A good thing, too. About halfway through the trip the Navion started having engine troubles and had to land in Kenora, Ont.
"I was thinking, 'Please don't be a cylinder,' but it was a cylinder," said Inkster.
She ended up having to replace it, shipping in a rebuilt one they luckily had back in Langley. The rest of the flight went by without incident.
"This one is special," said Inkster. "Every single Navion is different, it doesn't matter if they were from the same year, every one is different."
Last Thursday, after nearly seven decades of flying, Miller descended out of the sky for the final time. To his surprise, two fire trucks arched streams of water across the runway as a welcome. After an emotional hug with Anderson, Miller handed him the keys to his plane.
"An end of an era, that's for sure," said Miller. "I'm hoping that when the new museum is open, I'll come back here, and I'll take Freya with me, and come back and see it, and that will be the last time I will see it."
Editor's note - we won't let George get off completely. At a recent Board meeting George was awarded a Lifetime Membership in the Council and is expected at the October 2023 Silver Wings Industry and Scholarship Awards Celebration.
(Source: CBC News, Shane Fowler)
CBAA Golf Tournament raises $29,393 in support of Hope Air
Find out more about Hope Air here.
Corporate Profile: Dawn Whyte Consulting
Dawn Whyte is an aviation career coach, consultant, and air traffic controller. She has a variety of experience in the aviation industry, including 30 years in air traffic control. Dawn has spent the last 10 years leading and coaching her teams in traffic management and believes in empowering people to maximize their potential. Visit Dawn's website at www.dawnwhyte.ca or download the PDF attachment (at end of eNewsletter) to learn about the aviation-orientated personal development services that Dawn offers.