We thought it might be fun to post this article from the Nechako Chronicle Newspaper from July 9 1981. It was back in the days when the Vanderhoof International Airshow was the largest in BC. Enjoy!
Air Show Coming Thursday July 9, 1981
Once again this month, Vanderhoof will be a mecca for air show performers and spectators.
The airport will be humming July 25-26, as Blue Mountain Flyers present their second two-day show. To compliment the event, a tournament will be held at the Omineca Golf Course, operated by Verla and Norm Avison.
Through the years, Vanderhoof Air Show has become the largest in B.C., the largest being Abbotsford, attracting top name pilots from the United States and Canada. The Blue Mountain Flyers started in 1975. and held their first show in 1975.
“I think we’ve got a show that’s second to none,” reported Sue Borth, who last year became the first permanent club employee. “We’ve never had military jet displays because the strip is too small, so we’re more of a barnstorming type show.”
Mrs. Borth was hired last June as club manager. Husband Clark and son Dave are pilots and the Borth family has their own plane.
“The performers thoroughly enjoy the show, because it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s a fun air show, but we abide by every government regulation. The paper work involved is fantastic. We rent the airport for the weekend, and the Federal Department of Transport lists it as being closed. But, if there have to be emergency landings and takeoffs, we can easily accommodate them.
“Transport officials attend to enjoy the show, also to see rules are observed. We have a very good relationship. We regard them as a helping hand, not a heavy one. And we really appreciate the support of residents and merchants.”
Homemade planes, gliders, helicopters and other craft will also be displayed. Glider operators from Fort St. John have been here every year but last, when the weather kept them away, but it is hoped they will come this year to give rides. Last year there was an air-filled balloon. However, it took up too much space.
A search and rescue plane and crew are expected from Edmonton. Water bombers are requested every year, but their availability depends on whether they are needed to battle forest fires.
About 10,000 people were on the grounds last year, but the club did not make much profit. “The percentage of profit is really small,” adds Mrs. Borth. “Fees are really high (the highest was $7,600 for one act this year), we have to supply transportation, accommodation and meals for performers, fuel for the planes, rent the airport for the weekend, buy supplies and liability insurance.”
In other years club members have used their own vehicles to transport performers between the village and air strip. Because of the large number of entertainers this year, vehicles are being rented for them.
Camping facilities will be available on the grounds. Performers will arrive the Friday night. Breakfasts will be served on the Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s good entertainment value,” says Mrs. Borth. “Where else could you see a four hour show with top performers for so little?”
“Since we have gone to a two-day show, we have put posters all over the northwest. As the reputation grows, people have been coming from greater distances. Last year we had spectators from B.C. and Alberta, even some from Germany who were visiting here.
“We have rearranged the refreshment concessions, and tripled the amount of facilities, so there should be no problems. The club hires people from other groups to man them.
There will be 38 performers this year. The club likes to rotate performers yearly, so people cannot say “If you ve seen one show, you’ve seen them all.” Most “name” acts are from the United States, but about 75 percent of the performers will be Canadian.
The Eagles aerobatic team from Texas bring a wealth of flying experience and long hours of diligent practice to present an exciting and highly professional aerial exhibition. Charlie Hillard, Tom Poberezny and Gene Soucy are world champions. Vanderhoof will be their only Canadian performance this year, as their 1981 schedule has been full since last fall.
The club asks spectators what they would like. There were several requests last year for a wing walker, so this year Johnny Kazian will be featured. He “has made friends with the wind and brought back to shows the real art of wing walking. He will also be doing his famous firewall crash and car to plane transfer as seen on the television show That’s Incredible.” Another superb performance is expected from Bud Granley in a 1943 Harvard. His act reveals superb skill and maximum professional flying.
Again, there will be reminders of the Second World War. The 15 Canadian members of the Warbirds are bringing planes. Jack Hayes will do aerobatics he learned dodging missiles, flak and enemy planes in skies above Europe, Korea and Vietnam.
Club members held their first work party July 6. Meetings will be every Tuesday night at the airport to work out the show, and every night during show week. Club president Darrell Cursons looks after liaison with federal authorities, past president Wayne Deorksen looks after publicity and coordinating planes on the tarmac with Dan Boyd, Dan and Louise Wiebe look after concessions, Dave Silver after renting vehicles for performers, Neil Fawcett after the dance, Helen Wingham after finances. Ian and Margie Leslie are also on the committee.
“Growth of the club has just been fantastic during the last year,” adds Mrs. Borth. “We have 135 members, including 53 licenced pilots. We own two four passenger planes and one two passenger one worth about $90,000. We also have a hangar and snack bar. Rex Fulcher is chief instructor, Tom Young the other one. We also have a Cessna pilot training franchise.”