Wowing the masses at Boundary Bay
By Paul Dixon
July 28, 2014, Delta, B.C. - The airport at Boundary Bay (CZBB) in the Vancouver suburb of Delta was built as a Commonwealth training facility, churning out bomber pilots during the Second World War. At the end of the war, the training centre was shut down, but in a final salute to the community that had hosted them, the Royal Canadian Air Force put on an air show for the public that drew 20,000 spectators – four times the population of Delta at the time.
By Paul Dixon
Dormant for three decades, the airport was re-opened in 1983 as a general aviation facility as an alternative to YVR. The municipality of Delta, now with a population of more than 100,000, became the owner of the airport in 1997, but it wasn’t until Alpha Aviation took over operation of the airport 10 years ago that things took off, so to speak.
|Gary Ward in his MX2. All photos by Paul Dixon.
Mayor Lois Jackson and Delta council have committed to making the airport an economic hub in the region through rezoning to attract industries that can capitalize on the proximity the U.S. border, the Deltaport super-port and major road and rail networks. Alpha Aviation has invested millions of dollars in upgrading infrastructure, with the goal of making CZBB “the” airport serving corporate aviation in Vancouver. In a direct link to its heritage, CZBB may well be Canada’s busiest training airport, with the flight training schools on site accounting for more than 60 per cent of last year’s 200,000 recorded aircraft movements.
|Delta Mayor Lois
by Alpha Aviation’s
The air show is aimed at young families and children, allowing people to connect with “their” airport and be transported back to the golden age of the aerial barnstormers. The show includes the awe-inspiring gyrations of aerobatic pilots, ranging from neophytes Stefan Trischuk and Brandon Dryer to the dean of Canadian aerobatic pilots, the 77-year old Bud Granley and his son Ross flying their Yaks. Wing-walker Carol Pilon of Quebec had the crowd breathing as one as she surfed the sky atop her red Stearman biplane. Another highlight was a match race pitting “Super Dave” Mathieson in his MX2 against a 200 mph Ford GT, out and back the length of the runway. Of course it can’t be a Canadian air show with at least one Harvard and there were six of them, closing the show with a series of pylon races. Alpha Aviation CEO Fred Kaiser pitched in, making a series of low-level passes at the controls of his Citation CJ3.
|They’re back!!! The winner? Too close to call.
It was an afternoon of “oohs and awe’s,” with small fingers pointed skyward. The show focuses on the audience, as every performer taxis the length of the show line at the end of their routine, allowing them to see and be seen. Mayor Jackson is adamant that the air show will stay free: “We’ve got to keep it free for the people and for the kids, because there are a lot of families that can’t afford many of the other things that are out there. We put in some money and with our staff and Fred’s staff, along with a lot of sponsors we are able to put it on. It’s growing every year, it’s great fun and we just hope that everyone enjoys it.” Echoed by Kaiser, “the airport belongs to the community and what better way to prove it.”
Click here to see more photos from Boundary Bay.