Thursday, July 19, 2012

Excitement sky high for Princeton air show - Canada

Fire and ice will be key components in Saturday’s Princeton International Air Show in the skies over the Similkameen Valley.

From the cool nerves of the aerobatic pilots in gravity-defying, mid-sky manoeuvres to a pyrotechnic air-to-ground battle scene, the show has something for everyone.

“This is our biggest and best yet,” said co-organizer Patrick Robins. “I think what makes it so appealing is that we are grassroots and people get to talk to the pilots. Those guys live for telling their stories, especially to the kids, to share their life, enthusiasm and love of aviation.” 

Among them will be returning aerobatic specialist Ron Andrew of Blender Airshows.

At age 54, he is unique in that it was only a few years ago the Alberta resident began flying.

Despite his relative inexperience, the paces he puts his Pitts S2B biplane — affectionately known as Blender — through are breathtaking.

“I went to air shows when I was younger and just had an intense craving to do aerobatics. It was something I couldn’t understand but I had to fulfill,” he said. “It was a dream I’ve been chasing for years.

“It hasn’t been that long but it’s been the ride of a lifetime.”

Inspiring others to follow their dreams is also one of his big motivators.

While the potential for an accident is there, Andrew doesn’t dwell on that.

“Crashing is always a concern, but you have to do what you can to be safe,” he said. “If you worry about it, you probably wouldn’t do it.”

To prepare for a show, he spends time beforehand mentally focusing on the routine he is about to perform.

While Paul Dumoret of Osoyoos has a few more aerial hours under his belt, his passion for flight is just as strong.

“I just absolutely have fun, I love it,” said Dumoret, who will be at the controls of the green Nanchang military trainer. “This type of flying is very challenging and very disciplined because it’s you against the elements and even against yourself.”

He and licensed pyrotechnician Frank Zandvliet have put together a demonstration sure to be a highlight of this year’s event.

The routine creates the illusion of a warbird being hit and then attacking a ground-based enemy with gunfire and bombs.

He too loves the smaller venues like Princeton.

“There’s much more interaction, and when you see the enthusiasm of the people who put it on and the people who support it, that’s what’s incredible,” said Dumoret.

Other featured acts this year include aerobatic specialists Brandon Dreyer of Langley, Kent Pietsch of North Dakota and scheduled demonstrations by the Canadian Air Force and Mark Humbke and his gyrocopter.

Gates open at 9 a.m. followed by a chance to talk to pilots and view the aircraft. Opening ceremonies are at 10:40 a.m. and the aerial show begins at 11 a.m. Admission is $5.

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