Illegal drones temporarily ground firefighting helicopters

— By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

Two people are facing charges after drones interfered with helicopters fighting the Chetamon wildfire north of the townsite on Tuesday.

During Wednesday’s Chetamon Wildfire press conference, plans section chief Katie Ellsworth with Parks Canada reminded the public that flying drones is illegal in national parks unless the user has obtained a special permit.

Droning without a permit could result in law enforcement action and fines up to $25,000.

In this case, it could also contribute to the dangerous possibility of the wildfire approaching the Jasper townsite or other communities.

The reason for the reminder: there were two drone incidents on Tuesday that shut down the helicopter bucketing while the airspace was compromised.

“Once those drones were found and those reports were shared with the pilots, all eight helicopters had to sit down until we were able to confirm that the drones were no longer flying in the air,” Ellsworth said.

Critical fire suppression operations were halted for approximately an hour in the middle of the peak burning period.

“If this activity occurs during a very active wildfire day, it could result in an increase in fire behaviour,” Ellsworth said.

“It can result in the injury or death of a firefighter. If there is an interaction between a drone and a helicopter while they’re flying, it could be catastrophic to the pilot and to the helicopter.”

Two individuals are now facing charges. No further details were released.

It is illegal to use drones and any unmanned aerial vehicles in Jasper National Park.

Despite this, it is not uncommon, said Sean Prockter, co-proprietor of Jasper Hikes and Tours along with his wife Joy.

There are usually several occasions every year when he has to tell people to take them down at sites such as Sulfur Skyline, Bald Hills and Cavell Meadows.

“Those few in particular, I see quite a lot of drone use, unfortunately,” Prockter said. “You see them on the roads, too, driving up the Maligne Valley. I’ve often seen people at Medicine Lake trying to fly every time. Patricia Lake… I’ve stopped people there. It’s pretty common.”

Without going so far as to say that such illegal and dangerous drone activity is trending upward, he did say that several years ago he stopped being more lenient with his approach to drone operators.

“Drone use has been 10 years now. People should know that it’s illegal in the park unless they have a permit, and so I’ve been a bit more stern about telling people that it’s illegal and to take them down right away.”

Drones can negatively affect wildlife and pose risks to people as well. Parks Canada asked members of the public to report all drone activity to Jasper Dispatch at 780-852-6155.

(Photo: Parks Canada, Jasper Fitzhugh)

Government of Canada investments at Chris Hadfield Airport

The Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra on September 8 announced that the Government of Canada is making safety investments at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport.

Through Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program, the Government of Canada is providing the Southwestern Ontario airport with $370,000 for the purchase of a sweeper, used to keep runways and taxiways clear of ice and snow.

The government explains this funding will help ensure continued safe and reliable airport operations for residents, many of whom depend on their local airport for personal and business travel, as well as for access to routine and emergency medical care in larger centres.

“Our country’s airports help keep our supply chains moving and our communities connected from coast to coast to coast,” said Alghabra. “With this funding for Sarnia’s Chris Hadfield Airport, communities in and around Sarnia will have better access to safe and reliable air transportation. Investments like these in our local airports will help us deliver on our commitment to build safer, healthier, and stronger communities for everyone.”

As announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the Airports Capital Assistance Program received a one-time funding top-up of $186 million over two years.

The Fall Economic Statement 2020 also announced the temporary expansion of eligibility for the Airports Capital Assistance Program to allow National Airports System airports with less than one million annual passengers in 2019 to apply for funding under the Program in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

(Photo: Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport)

Airport day in Brampton

— By Gustavo and Clara Corujo

The community of Brampton, Ontario, and aviation enthusiasts from the surrounding region joined the Brampton Flight Centre (BFC) and Great War Flying Museum (GWFM) for their annual Airport Day on Sunday, September 11.

The event took place at the Brampton-Caledon Airport and offered a variety of fun-filled activities that are popular among aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Canadian aviation history came to life as visitors browse through the Great War Flying Museum impressive collection of World War I combat aircraft, witnessed WWI military re-enactments, and learned about the restoration of these treasured aircrafts.

It a was full day of activities, attractions and fun for the visitors. There were airplane rides, airport tour wagon rides, antique cars, musical entertainment, birds of prey, trackless train rides, face painting and much more.

For more photos of this event visit

First Nations flyers get their wings

Graduating students get blanketed. On the left, Chasity Cairns blankets Megan Lessard, and on the right David Restoule blankets Cheryden Moberly. The blankets have buffalo images on them, which represents education for Indigenous peoples. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

— By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

Megan Lessard and Cheryden Moberly defeated the odds Friday by receiving their first set of wings at Super T Aviation.

Lessard, 19, had butterflies in her stomach in a good way and is excited for what life is going to bring next. Moberly, 21, feels she is just getting started and is excited to see what happens next.

Terri Super of Super T Aviation explained both graduates are from First Nations Technical Institute. Both students came to Medicine Hat after the hangar and all 13 training planes at FNTI were destroyed in a fire back in February of this year.

MLA Drew Barnes said, “hats off to Super T and everybody who works in this area. To the two graduates, on a personal level I am so envious. You guys have the ability, the courage and the opportunity to see the world from 10 or 30,000 feet.”

Leading the cultural part of the ceremony and bearing gifts were David Restoule, Indigenous student specialist, and Chasity Cairns, manager of Indigenous Engagement and Student Supports, both from Medicine Hat College. Both expressed how honoured they were to be part of the ceremony and how proud they were of the graduates.

The first gifts were a sash for Lessard and a medicine pouch for Moberly. Afterwards both women were blanketed.

“Today as Indigenous people education is the buffalo,” explained Cairns. “Without an education we can’t provide all the necessities we need. The buffalo represents education and your accomplishments. In our culture, we blanket people when they have accomplished something or for a rite of passage.”

Both blankets were identical and had images of buffalo on them.

Lessard lives in Timmins, Ont., and is part of the Métis Nation of Ontario. She picked up an interest in aviation while doing a co-op program at Air Quebec in high school. Her goal is to give back, “many northern communities are only accessible by plane and many pilots don’t want to work up there. I would love to give back to those communities by doing something I enjoy.”

Moberly is from Wabaska, Alta., and spent half her life there and half living in the city. She started her post-secondary education at NAIT in business and administration but realized after a semester it wasn’t the right path. Through her father, who knew she had an interest in becoming a pilot, she found out about the FNTI aviation program.

Both Moberly and Lessard will pursue their commercial rating next. In the long term Lessard is looking toward to becoming a Medivac in Northern Communities and Lessard wants to get her float rating.

For Lessard flying is “such a great feeling. It’s really freeing and makes you realize how big the earth is. You get to fly over everything, and you see so much.”

Moberly finds flying liberating and fun: “I’ve had some ups and downs throughout my training but whenever I’m up there I feel free.”

Moberly also discussed how it’s important for people to know she is First Nations Cree and feels she is part of an unrepresented minority, especially in modern days.

“It’s been a lifetime thing trying to connect back to my culture. I was raised half my life in the city, and it takes a piece of your identity if you aren’t surrounded by your family, the native language and food. It’s hard to access cultural programs outside your community.”

Garg wins Webster Trophy as Canada’s top amateur pilot

The Webster Memorial Trophy Competition in 2022 celebrated its ninetieth anniversary following its return to operations after being postponed for two years because of the global pandemic.

Finalists in this year’s competition included Kwaku Brefo-Wireko, Douglas Browne, Alivia Chanyi, Damon Crane, Harmeet Garg, and Valeriya Mordvinova. They spent a week at Southern Interior Flight Centre, in Kelowna, British Columbia, vying for the title of Canada’s top amateur pilot.

At the end of the week, the program’s competition board named Harmeet Garg of Southern Interior Flight Centre, finalist for the Western Canada region, as the 2022 Webster Memorial Trophy champion.

Douglas Browne, of MFC Training, and finalist for Eastern Canada, placed runner-up. He was awarded the Eunice Carter Trophy.

The NAV Canada Award was earned by Valeriya Mordvinova of the Rockcliffe Flying Club, finalist for the Ninety-Nines Inc. for achieving the highest grade on the qualifying exam. The RedBird Flight Simulations awarded Damon Crane of Brampton Flight Centre, and finalist for The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, for his exemplary effort in this year’s simulation. The Northern Lights Aero Foundation also provided a bursary to this year’s female finalists, Alivia Chanyi and Mordvinova.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank our host school, Southern Interior Flight Centre, and the many sponsors, partners, and supporters that make Webster Week possible,” said Elise MacGlashing, National Administrator of the Webster Trophy Competition.

The evening ended with the announcement of next year’s host school, Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre.

(Photos: Webster Memorial Trophy Competition)

Roger’s Fly-in at Damascus

— By Gustavo and Clara Corujo

On September 3, 2022, Roger Deming and the Recreational Aircraft Association (RAA) hosted their annual fly-in at Arthur Aerodrome (Damascus Field), which is situated north northeast of Arthur, Ontario.

It was a beautiful warm sunny day with a nice breeze. Pilots began flying in shortly after 10 am. There were many familiar faces and interesting aircraft.

A special thanks to Roger Deming for his warm hospitality and generosity provided to all with complimentary food and beverages.

For more photos of the event visit

Tiger Boys Thursday night BBQ

— By Gustavo and Clara Corujo

The popular Tiger Boys fly-in takes place on the first Thursday of every month during the summer time. The event is free to attend but donations are appreciated.

The friendly family-oriented evening allows people to get up close and personal with vintage and classic aircraft, talk to the pilots and even go for a flight.

For more photos of the most recent Tiger Boys gathering, visit


Woodstock council nearing approval of airport MOU

— By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun (Photo: Jim Dumville, River Valley Sun)

Woodstock council failed to find a resolution to an undisclosed personnel issue discussed in a closed committee of the whole session Tuesday, Aug. 23, forcing a delay in approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) surrounding the operation of the Woodstock Airport in Grafton, New Brunswick.

The MOU charts the responsibilities of the town and the Woodstock Flying Association board of directors, who share management oversight of the airport.

The Tuesday council meeting also heard a letter from a Woodstock couple read into the record at the open session, criticizing the MOU and raising concerns about the airport’s noise and negative environmental impact.

Sam and Karen Arnold previously wrote to council to complain about the noise created over Woodstock by planes flying low as they took off from the airport in Grafton. While acknowledging the airport made minor adjustments, including the halt of flights before 8 a.m., the Arnolds said the total number of flights increased since their first letter.

On Wednesday, Mayor Art Slipp said council debated the issue holding up the MOU during committee-of-the-whole because it involved a personnel issue. He said council found “no resolution,” but staff will adjust the MOU over the next two weeks to bring it back before council on Sept. 13.

Slipp expects minor changes will resolve all issues during that time.

In their letter to council, the Arnolds said their concerns reach beyond the noise pollution associated with the airport. “Airplanes and most other vehicles create both noise pollution and carbon emissions that are detrimental to addressing the human-caused climate emergency,” they wrote.

The Arnolds added that most smaller aircraft using the Grafton airport create an additional downside as they are “frivolous when not being used for work.”

Quoting Woodstock Flying Association president Matt McLatchy’s contention that Woodstock needs a “more viable airport,” the Arnolds questioned how the MOU benefits the majority of area residents who neither fly nor want to put up with the airport noise.

McLatchy said he shares the Arnolds’ environmental concerns, but like ground vehicles, widespread use of electric planes is several years away. He said an electrically powered aircraft visited the airport earlier this summer.

McLatchy disagreed with the term “frivolous” when describing the use of the airport. He said most of the flights out of the airport this summer involved training and business flights.

He said two flight schools operate out of the Woodstock Airport. “These students are coming from away,” McLatchy said. “They’re bringing their dollars to Woodstock.”

He said local businesses also own planes which they use to attend out-of-town meetings. While planes burn more fuel than vehicles per hour, he said, the shorter time it takes to fly to a distant meeting means burning less gas overall.

While acknowledging recreational flying, he said many recreational pursuits burn fossil fuel. McLatchy said people who don’t want planes used for fun will also have to pull four-wheelers, side-by-sides, dirt bikes and snowmobiles off the trails.

McLatchy said the airport took several steps to reduce the noise over Woodstock, including limiting take-offs until after 8 a.m. and taking off away from the town when wind direction permits. Unfortunately, he added, prevailing winds dictate flying over Woodstock in most cases.

McLatchy said that while the Woodstock Flying Association may consider expanding the airport and lengthening the runway sometime in the distant future, it would like to, if possible, pave the entire runway soon.

Like Mayor Slipp, McLatchy expects staff to work out all issues in time for council to pass the MOU at its next meeting. He said the outstanding issue primarily revolves around clarifying the role of the liaison between the town and the airport.

Hawkefield 26th Annual Barnyard Fly-In

— By Gustavo Corujo

The RAA Oshawa District Recreational Aircraft Association on Sunday, August 28, hosted its annual fly-in at Hawkefield Aerodrome. The private airstrip is situated 3.5 km northwest of Orono, Ontario.

The friendly gathering of pilots and enthusiasts featured a range of aircraft types, including warbirds, certified aircraft, ultralights and amateur builds. This event is considered the biggest gathering of Oshawa area pilots and aviation buffs.

This year’s fly-in was highlighted by the presence of the mighty P-51 Mustang, WACO Classic Aircraft, Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Noorduyn Norseman MK. V and The Antonov AN-2.

View more photos of the event at

KF Centre for Excellence ready to take flight

KF Aerospace on August 30 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new 60,000-square-foot KF Centre for Excellence in Kelowna, BC, which was set to open to the public on August 31.

Designed to reflect the fuselage and wings of an aircraft, the KF Centre for Excellence is a legacy project of KF Aerospace Founder and Chairman, Barry Lapointe. The state-of-the-art, mass timber building includes two dedicated hangars featuring a rare aircraft collection, while the building’s fuselage houses an interactive exhibition that tells the story of aviation in the Okanagan Valley.

Initial aircraft on display at the centre will include the de Havilland Mosquito bomber and a newly restored Hawker Tempest MKII, among others. The building also features an airfield viewing gallery and conference facilities for businesses and events in the region.

“This building will truly be a landmark in the Okanagan Valley for decades to come,” said KF Centre for Excellence Executive Director, Paula Quinn.

“It was built with the entire community in mind, to be a place where those from all generations, cultures and backgrounds can gather,” continued Quinn. “It promises to be a must-see for tourists and locals alike, as well as a major asset to the local business community.”

Prior to the ribbon-cutting, guests heard brief speeches from, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, Airport Director Sam Samaddar and KF Aerospace Founder and Chairman, Barry Lapointe.

The centre is located at 5800 Lapointe Drive, and will open its doors to the general public on Wednesday, August 31 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. A minimum donation of $10 per family or $5 per person is required.

(Photos: KF Aerospace)