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Wings over Gatineau: Resounding Success!

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Oct. 4, 2011 - In sunny skies and with a hint of fall in the air, came the distinctive sound of the “Merlin Symphony for Eight” played by a Lancaster and four WW II fighters. The annual “Wings Over Gatineau” September 17 was a resounding success for Vintage Wings of Canada(VWoC).


October 4, 2011
By Peter Pigott

Oct. 4, 2011 – In sunny skies and with a hint of fall in the air, came
the distinctive sound of the “Merlin Symphony for Eight” played by a
Lancaster and four WW II fighters. The annual “Wings Over Gatineau”
September 17 was a resounding success for Vintage Wings of Canada(VWoC).

“Attendance was a record 22,000,” said Mary H. Lee, director of communications and public relations for VWoC. “We know this because we had the aid of a counter at the gates.

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A Lancaster and Cosair take to the skies over Gatineau. Photo courtesy of Vintage Wings of Canada.


 

But more than the CF-18 and Snowbirds, the Pitts aerobatics and the majestic Lancaster – all of which thrilled the audience – the ultimate hallmark of a great airshow is the human factor. “The success of the show is due in large part to the professionalism and dedication of the staff and several volunteers,” May Lee continued. “Their dedication is testimony to the sound volunteer program run by Carolyn Leslie, who, as the business manager, has learned to run a charitable organization very efficiently, inspiring her team along the way.”

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The unsung heroes of every airshow are the announcers who provide the running commentary and this one had two of the best in the business, Luc Cloutier and Roy Hafeli. “Sounding dynamic for seven hours in both languages is exhausting,” said Cloutier. “That the Gatineau show is bilingual adds a difficulty level. Roy is a real pro and complicity describes best the kind of dynamic between us. I like to say that VWoC is not a museum but a zoo where planes are alive. We can see them flying, hear them roaring, smell them burning Avgas. We two become spectators speaking loudly. . .with the help of few thousands watts.”

When asked what preparation he did, Cloutier explained: “The best recipe is to include stats, facts, stories and a bit of humor. A show like “Wings over Gatineau” requires a few decades of aviation passion and from 50 to 75 hours of research, translation, rewriting (in both languages), music research, meetings. . .all this for a seven-hour show. It’s when people believe that all this is natural and improvised that I’m in seventh heaven.” So were 22,000 others that day.