Air Creebec celebrates 40 years

— By Benjamin Powless, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nation (Photo: Juke Schweizer)

Four decades ago, Quebec Premier Rene Levesque was skeptical of the idea of Crees running their own airline, telling the late Cree Grand Chief Billy Diamond that airlines already served Cree communities. But in the end, the province had no say: the Cree Nation, using capital from the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), went on to build Air Creebec.

Now the airline is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It started out as a partnership with family-run Austin Airways, with the Crees owning 51%. In 1988, the Cree Nation bought out Austin Airways, and Air Creebec has been 100% Cree-owned ever since.

After the JBNQA signing in 1975, the Cree held a planning session on how to invest and grow their capital. “One of the first things that came up was an airline,” said current Air Creebec President Matthew Happyjack, noting that most communities had no road access, and the only way to get down south was by plane.

Diamond knew the family that ran Austin Airways and negotiated an agreement with them. The rest, as they say, is history.

Happyjack said that the airline service was something special before roads connected most of the communities. “When the airplane came in, everyone would gather and watch it,” he recounted. “They’d watch the people getting on and leaving. Even today it’s still like this; the Elders still watch the planes coming in.”

The fledgling airline began with Twin Otters, before moving on to Beechcraft 1900s, which are 19-passenger turboprops. Then the company turned to Dash 8s, eventually buying 16 of them, which is now used for all its passenger services.

“They’re good planes for the North, efficient,” Happyjack adds, noting that they work well for shorter runways up North. The company also uses two Hawker Siddeley HS 748s for cargo.

At the beginning, Air Creebec ran a strictly passenger service. However, over the past 25 years, they’ve expanded to serve cargo and charter flights, particularly for medical services and mining companies. “During the pandemic, most of our service was medical shuttles,” Happyjack noted.

The company operates three planes that fill medical roles in between the communities. The hangar in Montreal, operated outside of the main Montreal terminal, allows passengers to avoid long airport security lineups, which Happyjack says is particularly helpful for medical passengers.

The 40 years of service have been enough to bring the province around to see the benefits of a Cree-owned airline. During a recent presentation at an aviation summit, Happyjack said government officials told him they were happy to see Air Creebec is thriving, since they serve non-Cree communities as well, including Val-d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda, Moosonee and Timmins.

To mark the anniversary, Happyjack joined other officials in touring the communities served by the airline, between June 29 and July 7. “We were there to promote Air Creebec’s 40 years, thank the customers — individuals and companies — and we had snacks, a 40th anniversary cake, and we had a draw,” Happyjack said. He estimates there were at least 50 people at each of the community celebrations.

As for Air Creebec’s future, Happyjack says the airline will go where the demand is, as it always has. “At the beginning, it was for the first 15 years more passengers. Then came along charters,” Happyjack explained. “Then after the demand came, we bought more Dash 8s. It was easier financially for them; we saw the demand was there. We built a hangar in Montreal.”

Like all airlines, Air Creebec was drastically affected by the pandemic, saying it will take five years to get back to 2019 levels. Happyjack is optimistic, however, noting the airline is slowly picking up more passengers every month. The company hopes to go back to offering service six days a week soon if there’s demand.

Waterloo Warbirds open house

— By Gustavo Corujo

The Waterloo Warbirds hosted the second open house of the year on Saturday August 6. The event took place in Hangar 9 at the Region of Waterloo International Airport from noon to 4:00 pm. Entry for the open house was by donation at the door.

The goal of the Waterloo Warbirds organization is to preserve, maintain and fly the cold war era military jets. The collection of vintage military aircraft consists of; a Mig 15, an Aero L29 Delfin, a Silver Star T33, a de Havilland Vampire, and the North American Harvard aircraft.

The attendees were able to take a look at the aircraft, meet the team and pick up some merchandise.

For more images of the event visit

Hartzell forms new parent company, acquires Acorn Welding of Edmonton

Tailwind Technologies Inc., part of the investment holdings of brothers James and Joseph Brow, has formed Hartzell Aviation, a newly named company with historic roots in General Aviation. The storied brands of the new Hartzell Aviation include Hartzell Propeller, Hartzell Aerospace Welding and Hartzell Engine Tech.

“The independent operating companies and products under the Hartzell Aviation banner will carry on a strong and rich tradition, with a history dating back to the Wright Brothers when Orville encouraged his neighbor Robert N. Hartzell to begin manufacturing airplane propellers,” said James Brown.

Hartzell Aviation’s flagship company is Hartzell Propeller, focused on propeller design and manufacturing for business, commercial and government customers. President JJ Frigge heads the division, which is headquartered in Piqua, Ohio.

Hartzell Aerospace Welding holds core competencies of certified welding, precision machining and sheet metal fabrication. President Ryan Latham leads the operating division, which is located in Eagan, Minn. At 2022 EAA AirVenture, Hartzell Aerospace Welding expanded with the acquisition of Acorn Welding based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Hartzell Engine Tech, previously Hartzell Engine Technologies, offers a product portfolio consisting of Janitrol Aero, Fuelcraft, Plane-Power, Sky-Tec and AeroForce Turbocharger Systems.

(Photo: Hartzell, Diamond Aircraft)

EAA AirVenture 2022 wraps up

A record number of visitors attended this year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, held from July 25 to 31. Jack Pelton, CEO and Chairman EAA, points to a range of factors as being responsible for this year’s record attendance; from aerial displays to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force to the return of more international vistors.

“We introduced a tagline of ‘Unlike Anything Else’ for this year’s AirVenture event and 2022’s fly-in proved to truly be unlike anything else,” said EAA CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton. “We had seven days of nearly perfect weather, along with this year’s programs and activities, which brought out people and airplanes in numbers that we haven’t seen before.”

Approximately 650,000 – A record total (previous mark: 642,000 in 2019) and 7 per cent above 2021’s attendance of 608,000.

Total aircraft:
More than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. At Wittman alone, there were 18,684 aircraft operations in the 11-day period from July 21-31, which is an average of approximately 121 takeoffs/landings per hour when the airport is open.

Total showplanes:
3,226 which included 1,375 registered in vintage aircraft parking, plus 1,156 homebuilt aircraft (up 6 per cent over 2021), 369 warbirds (up 5 per cent from ’21), 137 ultralights, 87 seaplanes, 77 aerobatic aircraft, and 25 rotorcraft.

More than 12,000 sites in aircraft and drive-in camping accounted for an estimated 40,000 visitors.

More than 5,000 contributing in excess of 250,000 hours.

Commercial exhibitors:

Forums, Workshops, and Presentations:
More than 1,400 sessions hosted throughout the week.

Social Media, Internet and Mobile:
More than 10.6 million people were reached by EAA’s social media channels during AirVenture, with engagement of 1.1 million; More than 83,000 hours of viewing EAA video clips online also occurred during the event.

International guests:
Attendees from 92 countries outside the U.S., just one behind the record total from 2019.

(Photo: Adobestock)

Updated timeline for ADS-B mandate in Canada

NAV Canada on August 2 confirmed, that due to supply chain impacts related to the COVID pandemic, the previously announced implementation dates for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) Out Performance Mandate have been adjusted for Class A and B airspace.

In coordination with Transport Canada, NAV Canada explains new dates have been developed based in part on customer feedback regarding supply chain limitations and backlogs to acquire and install the appropriate transponder, as well as current equipage levels in each class of airspace.

As a result, the mandate will come into effect as follows: Class A Canadian airspace on August 10, 2023; Class B Canadian airspace on May 16, 2024; and Class C, D and E to occur no sooner than 2026 (to be determined pending further assessment).

In February 2022, NAV Canada announced Canada’s plan to implement ADS-B Out mandate to enhance aircraft operations in domestic airspace – requiring aircraft operators flying in certain domestic airspace to meet ADS-B Out Performance Requirements.

“The valuable input we have received from our stakeholders and partners on the Canadian ADS-B mandate indicates that later dates for the mandate requirement are warranted as the industry continues to navigate the ongoing impacts to supply chains due to the pandemic,” said Jeff Dawson, Assistant Vice President, Operational Support. “We are taking these steps to ensure customers have adequate time to comply with mandate equipage requirements.”

“What we are seeing in terms of equipage is very encouraging – rates in Class A airspace are at 95 per cent, while those in Class B airspace are above the 88 per cent mark and growing steadily.”

To meet the ADS-B Out Performance Mandate, aircraft will be required to:

• Be equipped with an appropriate transponder with ADS-B out capabilities and performance with the applicable standard of Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) DO-260B, “Minimum Operational Performance Standards”, or newer.

• Have antenna capability for broadcast toward space-based ADS-B receivers emitting 1090 MHz extended squitter. This requirement can be met either through antenna diversity (the use of a top and bottom antenna) or with a single antenna that is capable of transmitting both towards the ground and up towards satellites.

(Photo: NAV Canada)

Classic car and planes at CNC3

— By Gustavo and Clara Courjo

The Brampton-Caledon Airport hosted a classic car and plane themed event at their facility on Thursday July 28.

They had an impressive turn out of classic cars, vintage aircraft and people. The early evening event started at 5 pm and went till dusk. Live music, a raffle and the perfect weather made the event a great success.

The Brampton-Caledon Airport is owned and operated by the Brampton Flying Club and has been in operation since 1946.

For more images of this event visit

Extra $125K needed for Pincher Creek airport

— By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin’ the Breeze

One of the growing news stories of 2022 is the increased cost of living resulting from inflation and supply-chain issues. Individuals, businesses and governments alike have had to adjust their budgets to accommodate costs that may not have been initially anticipated.

MD of Pincher Creek council approved one such adjustment for the Alberta airport during its July 12 regular council meeting. Replacing the airfield lighting system for $917,000 was initially passed during the May 18 meeting, but after the project was tendered out in June the lowest bid to return was $125,000 higher than the MD’s estimate.

There is a chance not all of the funds will be used as $100,000 would cover upgrading the 5,000-foot runway to its full 6,600-foot length. The MD was also responsible only for a portion of the initial $917,000 price tag since $585,000 was being provided through the Alberta government’s Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.

Close to a third of the $332,000 the MD will pay is dependent on whether the runway will be extended, with $72,000 going toward line painting and $25,000 needed for updating flight charts.

The project would replace the airport’s electrical infrastructure, which is over 40 years old. The taxiway and apron edge lighting, the precision approach path indicators, as well as the airfield directional signage and field electric centre would all be replaced.

(Image: Wikipedia)