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First World War replica Vimy Flight planes touch down at Picton airport

Vimy Flight Birth of a Nation First World War replica biplanes fly into Prince Edward Flying Club, Monday. Note the cloud looks similar to the County’s shape! – Rachel Hardon photo

Vintage biplane replicas flying into the Picton Airport Monday were greeted by hundreds of visitors.

The Prince Edward Flying Club hosted the Vimy Flight Birth of a Nation team on its cross-Canada centennial tour, fresh from participation in Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa.

The team of volunteer retired and active Canadian pilots performed a commemorative fly-past over the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France in April honouring the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Now the pilots and ground support team are touring Canada to commemorate the nation’s heroes of the past century, and Canada’s 150th birthday.

The historic tour generated a lot of interest said Dave Main, president of the Prince Edward Flying Club, noting many had already seen coverage of the show in France. “As soon as they heard Vimy, they knew what that was all about, and vintage airplanes are quite fascinating to a lot of people.”

Prince Edward Flying Club President Dave Main helps park Allan Snowie’s plane.

“The crowd is pretty impressive,” said Main, as he was heading out to the runway to help park a 60s vintage Navion flown by Allan Snowie, founder of the Vimy Flight tour. Snowie is a former colleague of Main’s at Air Canada.

Snowie’s support plane joined three that had already landed at Picton. The planes fly at about 50-65 knots – making them slower than most cars.

“This is a major undertaking to go from coast-to-coast,” said Main “These aircraft are light, and they’re fragile to a certain extent so they need a support plane and support truck. In one shot they can probably fly about two-and-a-half hours. They’re not made for long-range trips.”

From Picton the team went to Lindsay for the afternoon, then will head to the Hamilton and London areas with eight stops planned, before heading to the Oshkosh Air Show in the USA and back to Canada for shows in the western provinces.

Visitors also inspected other planes parked at Picton airport on Monday.

Picton’s is a PPR (prior permission required) airport – necessary as the property is often used for other events – some of which use the runway, such as the armdrop drag races.

Main spoke glowingly of Loch Sloy, which owns the complex that Picton Airport is part of, and its constant support of the Flying Club.

“It’s surprising how many people aren’t aware this airport is here,” said Main. “The more of this kind of thing that we can do, the more people will know there’s an airport here.”

During the summer especially, Main said, the airport gets busier with private planes landing with visitors to the County.

“With the wineries and breweries here now, people want to come for a few days and do a tour. This airport is vital,” said Main, “and I’m not sure the local people are fully aware of that. An airport is really important to the County. To the point now that we really would miss it if we were to lose it.”

Vimy Flight pilot Will McEwan, a former Snowbird pilot, and currently with Air Canada, spoke with visitors to the Prince Edward Flying Club Monday. Grant Brennan, of Belleville, passed along for safe keeping, some photographs and sheet music for The Canadians at Vimy Ridge, by Albert Johnson, Pipe Major of the Kilties Band of Belleville.

 

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  1. Huge thanks to everyone for the wonderful welcome in Picton! We are so grateful to you all for coming to see our Vimy biplanes and share your stories with us.
    Kudos to the Prince Edward Flying Club for a fantastic day and a memorable stop on the Birth of A Nation Tour!

  2. Murray Clapp says:

    Many thanks to those who came out to see the planes, from both near and far. Huge thanks to the Vimy Flight pilots and support crew for stopping by as well as the members of the Prince Edward Flying Club for hosting.

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