Thousands take in Flight Fest, event obtains ‘air show’ status

By Rick Sauter


Nelson Pilots Association held its annual Flight Fest on August 6th. What started out as an airport appreciation day in 2004 when CZNL was in danger of being redeveloped for parkland and condos, has evolved through a fly-in breakfast to an officially sanctioned air show!

Members and the many volunteers put together a memorable event on a perfect Kootenay summer day. The club served 650 breakfasts, and some 3,000 people came through the gate during the day. Admission price was in the usual Nelson tradition, “by donation,” and the generosity of the attendees was outstanding!

We had 67 fly-in aircraft in addition to the show planes, and Laurel Tench did an outstanding job keeping them all separated on Unicom. Needless to say, parking space was at a premium throughout the day on the small Nelson ramp.

With the sponsorship of several area community organizations and many local businesses, the club, under the leadership of Case Grypma and Bob Schmitz, went out on a limb this year and obtained official air show status. This required a new level of organization to satisfy Transport Canada’s requirements, way beyond the more casual events we had put on in previous years.

Performers included the T-28s of Bruce Evans and Peter Herzig, Bill Carter in his Pitts, the aerobatic glider of Paul Hajduc, John Mrazek in Harvard Pussycat II, Paul Dumoret and his Nanchang, and Richard Mrazek in an L-29 jet.

The Trail Model Aircraft Club also provided some spectacular performances with their not-sosmall airplanes. Throughout the day, the public had the opportunity to go for short airplane or helicopter rides with some of the local commercial operators at very reasonable prices.

There was plenty to do for children with a climbing wall, face painting, and the opportunity to sit in some of the famous old Nelson Fire Department trucks that starred with Steve Martin in “Roxanne”.

It was a wonderful day in Nelson that re-enforced the support that the majority of area residents have for our little waterfront airport.