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Airshow ready to take wing for second straight year

Posted on February 23, 2023 by admin

By Ry Clarke

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Southern Alberta Newspapers

The Lethbridge International Airshow is touching down for a second straight year in partnership with the City of Lethbridge.

Dallas Harty, airshow president, says the organization will begin staging the show on odd-numbered years moving forward to lessen the competition from other airshows in the area, while offering attendants the opportunity to see as many pilots as possible.

The airshow will be held on July 29 and 30 and will return again in 2025.

“Last year after a four-year hiatus we had our first airshow. Because of a late start, we had a few struggles getting going but did have a very successful airshow,” said Harty.

The 2022 Lethbridge airshow was dedicated to former president Brett Botfield, seeing 16,000 in attendance over two days.

“We were starting from grassroots, and when you don’t have a show of this magnitude for that many years, it is a massive challenge,” said Harty.

Looking to take off to higher skies, the airshow will be held in 2023 followed by 2025 to free up assets for more possibilities.

“We had been encouraged to do our show every other year because of assets and doing this is a massive undertaking to put the show on. We had been encouraged to do it on the even years, but when Gail (Gail Pontarolo, vice-president of the air show) and I, went to ICAST (International Council of Air Shows) last year, we discovered very soon two things: the even years are overloaded with airshows, and especially in 2024 with the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The assets, both military and civilian, are being stretched way too far,” said Harty.

“The best decision for Lethbridge, and the Lethbridge International Airshow was to go in ’23 and have better access to civilian and military performers.”

Harty notes that the airshow will be looking to celebrate the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 100 years in 2024 with a scaled-down show.

Organizers are looking for sponsorships in the community, noting the opportunity this show has on the economic impact of the city.

“We have been doing the show since the ‘90s, and we are always proud of the economic impact,” said Harty. “We always hear it from the local businesses, hotels, restaurants, and fuel stations: While the air show is in town, we’re crazy busy.”

Airshow Performer Dan Reeves celebrated 50 years in the cockpit last year, and was here for the city show.

“As a performer, I had a great time last year at the show,” said Reeves. “Lethbridge by-and-large is one of the greatest shows that we have been doing.”

Reeves notes the air show is a great opportunity to connect with audiences about careers in aviation, hoping to spark interest as he takes to the skies.

“Looking at aviation as a career is something that is not pushed in our educational institutions. So having an airshow opens up a whole new world for the young folks,” said Reeves.

“We don’t expect them to be air show pilots, but certainly thinking of aviation as a career. Whether they want to be pilots, aircraft maintainers, there is a whole level of support that we drastically need, not just in Canada, but throughout the world. Right now, there is a huge shortage of pilots, so if we can influence and instill a little bit on young folks, that’s made my day.”

For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer, head to the airshow’s website at lethbridgeairshow.com.

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