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Hamilton Air Show Returns

By Teri Pecoskie of the Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Air Show
Hamilton’s skies will once again be full of aircraft as the air show returns to John C. Munro Airport.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator.

After a 10-year hiatus, the Hamilton Air Show is back off the ground.

“We’re all very excited about it,” said Dave Rohrer, CEO of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. “Bringing the air show back to Hamilton is a good thing for the airport community, a good thing for the city of Hamilton, and it’ll be a positive step for the museum.”

According to Rohrer, at least a dozen of the museum’s vintage military aircraft will fly in the show at John C. Munro Airport on June 18 and 19. Planes will also be brought in from Gatineau, Tillsonburg and New York State.

The show will also feature seminars by pilots and guest speakers as well as a large contingent of planes on the ground.

Rohrer said the 2011 show will be used as a dry run for the museum’s 40th anniversary. Planned for Father’s Day weekend in 2012, the anniversary air show will be a chance for the community to recognize the museum’s founders and the sacrifices of those who have contributed to the museum over the past four decades.

The once-annual event has been defunct since 2001, when it lost $100,000 and could no longer afford skyrocketing insurance premiums in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“Air shows aren’t known for making money, but at least you have to be able to break even,” Rohrer said. “We’ll only do what’s prudent and rational from a fiscal point of view.”

The museum is working with airport tenants, the city, and Transport Canada to iron out the plans and intends to appeal to both the city and private sponsors for financial support.

Councilor Brenda Johnson wouldn’t comment on whether the city intends to help fund the event but said she’s put museum officials in touch with Tourism Hamilton and the planning and economic development department to discuss funding options.

“It’s in the early stages right now,” she said. “We’re just going to see what all the partners are willing to contribute.”

Don Schofield, a professional pilot with more than 50 years of military and commercial flying experience, said he was heartbroken when the show was cancelled in 2001.

Since 1989, the 69-year-old has been at the controls of the museum’s famous Lancaster – one of just two of the big Second World War bombers that can still fly.

Schofield will resume his post in the bomber for this year’s show. He said he’s thrilled he’ll once again have a chance to bring a part of Canada’s military history to life.
Schofield added he’ll find it particularly gratifying to perform for Second World War veterans who might not have many more opportunities to see the Lancaster take flight.

“For people like that, the history, the nostalgia, and the sentiment is absolutely immense,” he said. “A lot of them are aware it might be the last time in their lives that they’ll see it.”

Rohrer recognizes the importance of showcasing the country’s military past – yet his focus is fixed on the younger crowd.

“We’re not in the business to glorify conflict in any way,” he said. “But we want to show the younger generation of Canadians the rich heritage and rich legacy of their forefathers. We want to tell the story of Canada in those difficult years.”

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