For decades, the Vanderhoof International Airshow has been one of the region’s primary tourist attractions.
After 17 years without the event, there were questions whether it would ever come back. With its resurrection in 2011, it’s clear that passion for flying is still taking off. Anna Serbinenko immigrated to Vancouver from Ukraine. Now she’s one of Canada’s only female aerobatic pilots. “You choose where to go, you choose how, you choose how fast, how tight, and you enjoy this freedom, this dance, and this is what I love about it. You’re free,” she said. “We can do that too and there is no limits and girls and women should not be restricted in what they can achieve just because they are women.”
For others, flying has become a family tradition. Drew and David Watson are brothers from Ponoka, Alberta who make up the Harvard Yellow Thunder Formation Team. “Our father used to fly at the Vanderhoof Air Show back in the 70s and 80s,” said Drew. “Dave owns my fathers plane and I own his friend’s airplane now, so we kind of started almost by coming to Vanderhoof, it kind of started right here.”
Of course, the event boasted no shortage of professional talent. Stefan Trischuk is a professional pilot and star of the hit TV-series “Airshow.” He can do some pretty ‘special’ things with his Pitts Special Biplane. “I can loop it and roll it and tumble it and slide it backwards and I’ve got equal thrust to weight in this little yellow airplane so it’s just a blast to fly,” he said. “It take less than a second to roll it so I can do four complete rolls in four seconds.”
Meanwhile on the ground, a different type of airshow took place. Motocross Biker Luke Wheeler from Vanderhoof, was showing off with wheelies, jumps, and a number of cool tricks to the crowd. “It’s awesome to have the old planes, you don’t get to see that all the time and have us riding new bikes with some of the oldest planes out there still flying around is cool to mash it together.”
A huge crowd turned out for the event and marveled at the performances. Announcer with the airshow, Wayne Deorksen, was simply in love with the planes showcased this year from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and World War Two. “There are Harvards, there are Chinese Nan Chang CJ6 Trainers, there are Russian Trainers, we have T-28s used in insurgency,” he said. “My favourite, the P-38 Lightning, which is the first time it’s ever appeared at a Northern B.C. airshow. This plane is rare.”
The old planes are a testament to the event’s success. Now the airshow will leap frog each year between Vanderhoof and Quesnel’s Skyfest. Vanderhoof will host the even numbered years, while Quesnel hosts the odd numbered years.