Cool temperatures didn’t prevent either pilots or locals from heading to the Stettler Airport for the annual Labour Day long weekend Fly-in Breakfast on Monday, Sept. 5.
With more than 400 meals of eggs, pancakes and sausages dished up that morning and about 40 planes and a handful of helicopters landing at the airport, Cam Andres, president of the Stettler Flying Club/COPA Flight 135, said the event was a success.
“We’ve certainly had better years,” Andres admitted, citing the cool weather and rough skies in southern Alberta as deterrents. “We’ve definitely had worse years.”
For the past three decades, pilots from near and far have flown their planes and helicopters into the Stettler airport for the late-summer breakfast, which is attended by locals from around the County of Stettler. Volunteer firefighters are on standby in case of emergency, a security that has not been needed in all the years the breakfast has run, Andres noted.
This year, the furthest-flying visitors were a couple who flew in from Saskatoon, Sask. Andres noted the event usually has a good-sized flying complement that comes in from south of Calgary, but bad skies this year kept that group grounded.
As the planes flew in, they would land on the north landing strip, before being guided by volunteers on ATVs to taxi over to park for the breakfast. Planes took off from both the north and south landing strip.
The airport is a popular training airport because its design placed the airports runways in a direction that did not run with the wind, meaning the airport almost always has a crosswind — and Monday was no exception, as the airport’s red-and-white striped windsock showed the wind blowing across the runways. Pilots have to compensate for the wind, or they have real chances of being blown off the runway as they land.
A wide variety of aircraft came in to the airport, from home-crafted kit planes, crop dusters, small personal planes, helicopters and even a corporate $4.5 million passenger jet.
The breakfast is the only fundraiser held by the flying club, with most of the proceeds going toward paying off the loan the club took in order to install a fueling system at the airport. The remainder of the money raised, which isn’t usually a lot, Andres noted, goes to general maintenance of the airport properties and the few programs offered by the club.
The club, which is part of COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association), is insured through the COPA’s insurance for events like these, Andres noted.