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75

th anniversary

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SPECIAL EDITION

75 years

20 13

1938 - 2013


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75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Langley Regional Airport

CONGRATULATIONS LANGLEY REGIONAL AIRPORT ON YOUR 75th ANNIVERSARY!

EASY ACCESS. Car - 1.5 Hours East of Vancouver Boat - Via The Harrison River Plane - Private 2100' airstrip (49 15' 09.80" N latitude & 121 56' 42.65" W longitude)

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Langley Regional Airport

Langley Regional Airport

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

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Aviators take wing for 75th celebration

A flypast of 75 aircraft of all kinds will mark the airport’s birthday.

Since the 1930s, Langley Regional Airport has been moving people and products, providing training, supplying jobs, and serving as a vibrant economic hub in the Township of Langley. This month, the airport marks an important milestone and the public is invited join in the celebration. On June 22, Langley Regional Airport turns 75 years old and festivities have been planned to pay tribute to the facility and all it contributes. “This is a really exciting opportunity, a chance to let people know about the airport and the role it plays in our community,” said 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee chair George Miller. The head of Avcon Consulting, Miller served as manager of the airport since 1990 before handing that duty over to his son Guy this year. “It is a great time to bring people together – people who have gotten to know

Gord Ball piloted a Navion in for a landing at the Langley Regional Airport on Saturday.

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

each other through flying together, working or volunteering at the airport, and people who are interested in aircraft and the aviation industry.” To kick off the celebrations, a massive air parade will be held on Friday,

June 21. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., people throughout Langley and Aldergrove can look up to the sky and see 75 various aircraft circling the community. “The idea is to provide a display overhead that the public doesn’t have to

go to the airport to see, as they will be able to observe it from wherever they may be at the time,” said Miller. With so many different aircraft in the air at one time – including various makes in categories

of factory built, home built, classic, antique, and ex-military – the airport hopes to make the Guinness Book of World Records. That evening, guests can dance the night away to the big band sounds of the

Bruce James Orchestra in a place usually reserved for planes. A hangar on the north side of the Langley Airport will be converted into a dance hall on Friday, June 21, at 7 p.m.

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75th Anniversary

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Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

Expansion of airport has been underway for years …continued from page B3

Guests should follow the signs when entering the airport at the traffic lights opposite Langley Secondary School on 56th Ave. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $20, which includes a hamburger or hot dog and a beverage. For tickets, contact the Canadian Museum of Flight at 604-532-0035 or CMflight@telus.net. The following day, June 22, an official ceremony will be held and a fly-in will see aviation enthusiasts arriving from around the province to celebrate the airport’s milestone anniversary. Originally built by the federal Department of Transport in 1938, the Langley Airport was controlled by the Department of National Defence and enhanced for the Royal Canadian Air Force for use as a relief field in the early 1940s. In 1954, the facility was licensed to operate as a municipal airport and in 1967 it was purchased by the Township for $24,300. “That turned out to be an excellent investment,” said Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese, noting that Langley Regional Airport is now home to close to 50 businesses, including the largest concentration of rotary wing companies in Canada. “People want to live and work in our community and we are proud of our thriving commercial climate. The airport

Matthew Claxton/Langlye Advance

Ray Roussy flew in to the airport with a tail of smoke behind him. Roussy flies with the father and son team who manage the airport as part of the Fraser Blues aerial team. To the right, planes sat waiting for their owners along the taxiways.

plays a great role in that success by offering jobs, providing education in fields that are in great

demand, and offering valuable transportation options to businesses, all of which contribute to our healthy economy.” Langley Regional Airport recently underwent a significant expansion and enhancement, and late last year it was chosen as the site for a major provincial announcement that launched a new Aviation Strategy for B.C. A major employer at the airport is in the process of building a new facility that will add

a further 180 jobs, and Miller is pleased to announce that Merlin Air will soon be providing commercial charter flights to Victoria. “I’m very proud of Langley Regional Airport and all it has

accomplished,” Miller said. “I hope Langley residents and visitors will join us for our 75th anniversary celebration and take advantage of this opportunity to be a part of our airport’s history.”

AIRPORT 75TH ANNIVERSARY: CONGRATULATIONS!

LANGLEY REGIONAL AIRPORT 75th ANNIVERSARY 75 AIRCRAFT PARADE Friday, June 21st 2013

Parade over the Langleys 5:30-6:30pm Look up and see a Guinness Book of World Records attempt

HANGAR DANCE Friday, June 21st 2013 – 7:00pm North Side – Hanger 42

Featuring the Bruce James Orchestra Tickets are $20 each. Includes a hamburger or hot dog and a beer or wine For tickets: Canadian Museum of Flight – 604-532-0035

ANNUAL AIRPORT FLY-IN Saturday, June 22nd 2013 – All day Hosted by Langley Aeroclub Discount fuel for weekend participants

75th ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY Saturday, June 22nd 2013 – 1:00pm West Side of the Airport at the Gazebo

20338 - 65 Avenue, Langley, British Columbia, Canada V2Y 3J1 604.533.6000 tol.ca


Langley Regional Airport

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Economics

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

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Self-sustaining airport finds a niche

Helicopters have turned a small airport into a regional powerhouse.

industry that wouldn’t take up a lot of space, but would bring in jobs. It meant helicopters. “Helicopters are vital to British Columbia,” said Miller. by Matthew Claxton The Langley Regional mclaxton@langleyadvance.com Airport is now home to the The father and son duo largest concentration of of George and Guy Miller helicopter-related businessare familiar sights around es in the country. In 1990, the airport. there were four helicopter George firms in was airport Langley. manager Today there “Helicopters are vital from 1990 are 27. to British Columbia.” to this year. Attracting George Miller He retired new busias the airnesses port mankeeps the agement changed, with his airport self-sufficient. son Guy taking over as a Although it’s owned by Township employee. the Township, it pays for After a 35 year career itself, Miller said. in the Canadian military, Five years ago, the first including a stint with the businesses opened in the Snowbirds, Miller worked new northside project, with an aerospace firm in Ottawa. “I was looking at the possibility of moving out west,” George said. His son was then a student at Trinity Western University, so he was familiar with the area. A spot opened up for an airport manager, and he applied. Just before he took over, the airport’s future had looked shaky. There had been some talk of using the land for the Kwantlen Helicopters are the airport’s specialty. College campus, which eventually was built down the road in Langley City. The big thing about making an airport work is that there has to be “heart” for the airport from the community, George said. He’s found that exists in Langley. Successive mayors and councils have wanted the airport to succeed. Former mayor John Beales, a pilot himself, sold his own hangar and helped kickstart development. George’s approach was to keep the airport within its boundaries while growing. That meant finding an

which saw the paving of a new runway and long-term leases offered for a series of lots along 56th Avenue. Langley Township uses the airport to entice new businesses to come to Langley. “Not everyone has an airport, and not everyone has a university,” said Gary MacKinnon, the economic development officer for the Township. With the regional airport, a Kwantlen Polytechnic campus, and Trinity Western University, MacKinnon finds his job of attracting new employers to locate in Langley easier. Towns and cities across B.C. are competing to attract jobs, especially high tech jobs like those in the aviation sector. Companies are looking for places that already host

high tech centres, and that have access to the college students who can fill jobs. When it comes to specialization, that can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how it’s done, said MacKinnon. He used to work for Oshawa, Ont., a town dominated by the auto industry. If the factories went on strike, it could cripple the local economy.

The focus at the Langley Regional Airport has been on helicopters for the past 20 years, but it isn’t quite the same as having all automotive plants. Helicopters are used in a number of industries, from logging and mining, to tourism and policing. The maintenance shops at Langley Regional Airport work on aircraft that come from all around the world,

upgrading or repairing systems in machines from Asia to the Americas. About 280 people work at the airport, and with some anticipated new developments in 2013 and 2014, it could be up to 450 in the next year, Miller said. “We’re looking at the high tech jobs in manufacturing, maintenance,” George said.

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

Congratulations on 75 years of aviation excellence in Langley!

Mary Polak, MLA Langley Unit 102 - 20611 Fraser Hwy, Langley BC V3A 4G4 Phone: (604) 514-8206 Fax (604) 514-0195 Email: mary.polak.mla@leg.bc.ca follow me on twitter @maryforbc

George and Guy Miller have been managing the airport together for years. Guy has taken over as manager while George is now a consultant.

A new runway and more development are changing the face of the airport’s northern side.

Matthew Claxton Langley Advance

Thank You for 75 Years of Hard Work and Service in Our Community.


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75th Anniversary

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History

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

Museum of flight makes aviation history soar

The Canadian Museum of Flight preserves the province’s aviation heritage.

by Matthew Claxton

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

The roots of the Langley Regional Airport lie with the early days of aviation in British Columbia. There’s no place in the province where you can learn about those roots more effectively than the Canadian Museum of Flight, which hosts vintage aircraft, a piece of the Avro Arrow, uniforms, early flight simulators, and more. On a Tuesday, you can see numerous volunteers converge on the museum for a day of repairs and maintenance. “We’re trying to patch these poor things up,” said Robert Piva, in midst of making a new panel for a replica SE5, a First World War-era scout, or fighter airplane. Many of the volunteers, like Piva, worked in the aviation field, as mechanics. Others were backyard tinkerers, Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance engineers, or commercial pilots. View more John Vanderboom painted the leading edges of the wings of one of numerous historical, John Vanderboom spent a career in photos with restored, and replica aircraft housed at the Canadian Museum of Flight at the Langley Region banking and retail, and is getting back Airport. Several more aircraft, right, are housed inside the building’s hangar. to a love of aviation that saw him apply his time working so he can had visited the museum a few times, to join the RCAF in his youth. be available on Tuesdays for and decided to sign up. He spent his “I guess I’ve always had an affinity the big volunteer work bees. Tuesday cleaning a model carburator. for airplanes,” he said. He’s hoping to reach out to Much of the work recently has been Some of the core volunteers are in the technical schools around the Lower on smaller aircraft like the SE5 or the their 60s, 70s, or 80s, about the same age Mainland, like Kwantlen and BCIT, to bush pilot planes kept in the main as some of the aircraft they’re working to connect them to the aviation heritage at hangar. preserve. the museum. One of the most visible aircraft is the Others are much younger, like Mike Samuel is a new volunteer, who was DC-3 kept out near 216th Street, overLuedey, a volunteer director, and Sean looking for something to do after finishing looking the traffic that passes the airport. Samuel, a recent BCIT graduate. his commercial pilot’s licence at BCIT. He Rebuilding that craft has been the Luedy, a software developer, structures

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responsibility of John Jouan, overseeing a crew of volunteers. “We stripped it down to the skeleton,” Jouan said.

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Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

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Volunteers put in thousands of hours

…continued from page B6

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

Sean Samuel, above, is a recent BCIT graduate and one of the newest volunteers at the Canadian Museum of Flight. Uniforms and flight suits are among the many artifacts on display at the hangar of the museum.

The volunteers have put in new floorboards for the former passenger and cargo plane, have found some seats that are ready to reupholster, and re-skinned the inner walls with fabric. The aircraft won’t fly again soon, but the volunteers want to bring back its appearance to those of its mid-century glory days. It started as an American Airlines craft, built in 1940. In 1942 it was sent to the U.S. Air Force and moved troops in Alaska. It flew again for American Airlines at the end of the war, then with Trans Alaska Airlines, Queen Charlotte Airlines on the B.C. coast, Western Airlines, and Trans Provincial Airlines. By 1972, Trans Provincial was done with the craft, and simply pushed it into the bush near Terrace’s airport. In 1979, it was found and bought by Friends of the DC-3 Canada, and by the early 1990s, it was being rebuilt in the Lower Mainland. Parts came from wherever they could be found, said Jouan. “We pretty well had to manufacture a lot of the bits and pieces,” he said. The exterior was largely done in the 1990s, but a year ago Jouan took over the job of restoring the plane’s interior. Over the years, a lot of issues have cropped up with keeping the plane in good order, he said. There’s duct tape plugging holes here and there to keep birds from nesting in the airframe, and the cockpit windows need replacing. “It’s a good challenge,” he said of the DC-3 restoration. “A challenge

To The Lang ngle ey y Reg giio ona nal Aiirrport on

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

John Jouan is working to restore the interior of a Douglas DC-3, once the twin-engine workhorse of North American aviation. you can get your teeth into and get some results.” He and other volunteers have put in a lot of hours, but Jouan said it’s worth it as the restoration slowly comes together. “Just the sheer joy of seeing this thing go back together, it’s quite a reward,” he said. He has never flown a DC-3 himself, but he’s flown in them as a passenger. He spent most of his career around aircraft, as a pilot, flight engineer, and aircraft mechanic. He worked with Ward Air for 25 years. “I’ve always loved airplanes,” Jouan said. He noted that flying conditions were very different mid-century,

when the DC-3 was a workhorse of the air. “There’s no fancy GPS in here or anything like that,” he said, pointing out the simple analog controls and dials in the cockpit. While the work on the DC-3 may never be completely finished, he’s hoping to see the cabin opened to visitors this summer. While the DC-3 may never fly again, other vintage aircraft to take to the skies. Early in June, Vic Bentley, Bill Findlay, and Jim Beswick, a trio of mechanics, were in a borrowed hangar going over a 1941 Harvard with a fine toothed comb.

continued on page B15…

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75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Birthday

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

The big

75

Dave Arnold

A photo of the Langley Airport showing Lew Kennedy’s 75 marker for the anniversary. Longtime airport manager George Miller’s plane is in the foreground.

A marker for the airport’s birthday has been inscribed.

by Matthew Claxton

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Lew Kennedy’s contribution to the Langley Regional Airport’s 75th

Anniversary can only properly be appreciated from the air. Kennedy is officially a part time security guard for the airport. But he does a lot of other odd jobs, from doing a bit of welding to tinkering with the lawn mowers. In June, he decided to inscribe a giant 75 into the

field between the runways and hangars. “I designed it and laid it out,” said Kennedy. A grid was laid out, partly using an old Boy Scout compass, and then grass killer was used to create a ring and the numbers inside it. Lime sheen makes it visible to pilots. “It was fun trying to get

Congratulations on 75 Years!

the tops of the numbers parallel with the runway, which is 175 feet away,” said Kennedy. An 80-year-old native of Newfoundland, Kennedy has been doing security for the airport for three years. He roams the airport at odd hours, whether from 5-8 p.m. or 2-5 a.m. He can usually be seen on his

bicycle, and he’s rousted his fair share of would be thieves and trespassers. “I’ve actually caught people right inside of the hangars,” he said. He found a small group of homeless people in a hangar on the north side of the airport once, and shooed them out of a building they were trying

to sleep in. “I was very gentle with them,” said Kennedy. He warned them to tell their friends it was too dangerous to hang around the airport grounds. He was aided in that until last year by his late pitbull Busby. A big, mean looking dog, Busby was actually a friendly animal. He once startled the pilot of an RCMP helicopter. The chopper had landed at night at the Langley Regional Airport, and the pilot had gotten out to take a break and get a nap next to the craft’s landing gear. Busby spotted him and ran up, waking the pilot and giving him a scare. He got over it once he realized Busby was trying to lick him to death. A recreational pilot, Kennedy still considers himself retired despite his work at the airport. It’s pretty low key given that his working life was spent on massive construction projects, doing specialized welding work on things like nuclear power plants and oil rigs. Aside from flying, security work, and playing hockey, he’s also building his own biplane. “I’m going to fly myself to Newfoundland next summer,” said Kennedy. He plans to do it in goggles and a scarf, just like a pilot from the beginning of the days of aviation.

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Passenger travel

Langley Regional Airport

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

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Charter service takes flight from Langley Charter air service is coming to the Langley Regional Airport this year. by Matthew Claxton

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

A new charter air service is pinning its hopes on Langley Regional Airport as its hub to access the Fraser Valley and the rest of B.C. Merlin Air Custom Charters will build a 3,000 square foot Fred and Lori Xavier are behind Merlin Air Custom passenger terminal and 6,500 Charters, which will begin flights around B.C., based out of square foot hangar and maintenLangley, later this year. ance facility just to the north of the airport’s control tower on The business model is based Xavier. 216th Street. on the idea that there are not “Our Unlike previous attempts to enough direct flights between choice set up airlines out of Langley medium-sized communities in of air– there have been two serviB.C. craft and ces tried over the years to take Merlin will offer those direct multiple ‘mini-hub’ approach commuters to Victoria – Merlin routes, giving people straight to regional air travel, means won’t be doing regularly schedline travel, instead of forcing we can deliver end-to-end conuled runs. people to connect through cierge level value at lower price Instead, said Vancouver for points than jets or helicopters company prestrips between two with minimal difference in flight ident Fred Xavier, “We’re going to go northern or coast- times on short-hop routes.” they’ll be a charal communities. Behind the project are Xavier anywhere people ter service, taking “Merlin and his wife Lori Xavier, vicewant.” workers to the Air is British president of marketing. North, adventure Fred Xavier Columbia’s only The project will start with tourists up to the air charter and a small fleet of Piper Navajos coast or Interior, adventure tour carrying six to eight passengers or passengers to Victoria or company to offer flexible and each. An amphibious aircraft is Pemberton/Whistler. affordable point-to-point custom expected to join the fleet, hope“We’re going to go anywhere charter flights of 90 minutes or fully by the end of the year, to people want,” said Xavier. less on a B.C.-wide basis,” said service trips to the Victoria har-

Merlin Air will be a charter service with “mini-hubs” at several airports, but its hangar will be at Langley. bour. The design and planning of the new hangar has completed and is expected to be finished in 2014, but Merlin will be flying before that. Xavier said he hopes to be open at Labour Day. They’ll start by using a temporary quarters, on the same spot used by Harbour Air when it operated a route out of Langley. When completed, the new facility will have offices, a business centre, an all-weather observation patio, and a high definition 360-degree camera set up to allow people to watch the airport year round. For arrivals and departures,

there will be a two-gate dual aircraft ramp system. The $1.5 million terminal and the associated business the charter service generates should bring economic spin offs for Langley, said Xavier. It will directly employ about eight staff by Christmas and between 12 and 16 by the time the hangar is finished next year. Xavier said Langley was chosen for its position in the geographic centre of the Fraser Valley, close to border crossings and within a short drive of 300,000 people. He’s looking forward to the first flights. “We’re very excited about it,” Xavier said.

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75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Traffic control

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

Keeping an eye on the friendly Langley sky The people keeping an eye on safety in the airspace take their job seriously.

the ground, which means getting information from pilots before and during their travel from hangars towards the runways. The two controllers will typically switch every hour, along with taking brief breaks to stay sharp. In addition to watching aircraft, the by Matthew Claxton controllers have to keep an eye on the mclaxton@langleyadvance.com various service vehicles that drive around the airport, such as fuel and maintenance For a small regional airport, the runtrucks, if they’re going to intersect with ways and airspace around Langley are an area used by aircraft. pretty busy. A tower controller, whether Beaudet or On the first Saturday in June, there were 600 takeoffs and landings at Langley his colleagues, keeps track of flight patterns on one of several computer screens. Regional Airport, not to mention the Another displays the positions and a fournumerous aircraft that passed through or letter transponder code identifying craft near its airspace. in the air. Just to the northeast of Langley Beaudet is on the radio Airport’s zone is the Glen every few minutes while Valley practice area, where working, talking to pilots “Our job is to make new pilots from Boundary in the air, usually advisBay, Chilliwack, Langley, sure airplanes don’t ing them of other aircraft or Pitt Meadows often hit each other.” nearby. travel to work on their Not all of them are flyYves Beaudet skills. ing in the airport’s control Anything that passes zone. through Langley’s air“If I have time, I can deal with people space, a six-mile diameter control zone, is outside my control zone,” Beaudet said. the job of the air and ground controllers Aside from avoiding collisions, the confrom Nav Canada, in the tower that sits trollers want to keep planes on course near 216th Street and 56th Avenue. “Our job is to make sure airplanes don’t when it comes to nearby residential areas. hit each other,” said Yves Beaudet. Noise abatement rules means planes are That’s the big responsibility, although supposed to follow certain corridors when there’s a lot more to it. taking off near built-up residential areas. There are two working controllers minThe controllers have to act as noise cops imum while the tower is operational. and remind pilots to avoid houses. One of them handles the tower control, Langley Regional has a 2,100 foot runwhich includes the runways for take offs way. and landings, the helipads, and the air“It’s quite short, for a controlled runspace up to 1900 feet. way,” said Beaudet. The other controller is responsible for

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

Yves Beaudet is just one of the tower controllers working at the Langley Regional Airport. The length of runway doesn’t matter for helicopters, of which Langley has more than a few. The high concentration of helicopter related businesses here means plenty of takeoffs and landings. Asked if helicopters are simpler to control than airplanes, Beaudet replies “They’re easy and hard.” You can send them in any direction, but there are special rules for the takeoffs of larger helicopters because of the intense turbulence they can generate. Like all the air traffic controllers, Beaudet works for Nav Canada. A pri-

vate company, it was spun out of the Transport Canada bureacracy in the 1990s. Beaudet became an air traffic controller in his 40s, after a career in the military. “They weed out people who cannot work under stress,” he said. There are different kinds of stress, of course. Beaudet said he considers his job much less stressful than that of his wife, a bus driver. What does worry an air traffic controller? “The unexpected,” said Beaudet.

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Business

Langley Regional Airport

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

B11

Career fixing aircraft started out early

Don Nikkel started one of the longest-running businesses at the airport.

by Matthew Claxton

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Don Nikkel is one of the veterans of the Langley Regional Airport. Not only has he run Valley Aero Engines for 35 years, the aircraft engineer has also flown out of the airport since the early 1960s, when he first moved to town. His first experience of the airport was a field with a single paved runway, a handful of hangars and a few businesses, including crop dusting. “Before they had a control tower, or anything,” Nikkel notes. His love affair with flight started as a boy in southern Manitoba, when at a fair, his father paid a pilot to take the six-year-old up in a plane. His father joked that the pilot should give the boy a scare. “I loved every minute of it,” Nikkel said. He was flying by age 16 and had his pilot’s licence at 17. At 19, around 1954, he started working for Canadian Pacific Airlines in Winnipeg, servicing the company’s DC-3s. Canadian Pacific sent him west

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance

Don Nikkel has run a business at the Langley Airport for almost four decades. to the Vancouver International Airport. In the early 1960s, Nikkel was wondering about advancement in the company, and looking to strike out on his own. He bought a gas station in Langley, an old Shell Oil service station on the northeast corner of 200th Street and 40th Avenue.

For a time, he was both working for Canadian Pacific and starting up his own business, expanding and updating the gas station and garage. Meanwhile, from almost the moment he moved to Langley, he was out at the airport, flying a series of planes on the weekends. He flew Cessnas for many

Congratulations

to the Langley Regional Airport as you celebrate 75 years in our community!

A Place to C a ll H Caring for Langley o me Seniors since 1974.

years, then switched to a Piper Aztec. On a weekend, especially a three-day weekend, ownership of a plane gave Nikkel and his late wife Lorraine the opportunity for some far flung vacations. For longer trips, he flew down as far as Mexico and the Caribbean, with Lorraine navi-

gating. For a weekend getaway, they could leave Friday afternoon and be in Reno, Nevada by the evening. Eventually, Nikkel headed out to the airport to work as well as fly. He opened up Valley Aero Engines with Sig Peterson, one of his mentors. “Hell of a good engineer,” said Nikkel. “There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix.” In addition to working on aircraft engines, for the past four to five years, he’s been driving the jet fuel truck for the airport. The Langley Township vehicle sells fuel to the numerous businesses that need it. Small planes run on ordinary aviation fuel, but a big turbine engines, like those in helicopters, needs jet fuel. They burn a lot of it, Nikkel said. A Sikorsky can burn 600 litres of fuel an hour. Working with many helicopter businesses, Nikkel had the chance to take the controls of one a few years ago, he said. It was a strange feeling to be able to see the gauges read that he had no forward movement, yet not fall straight out of the sky, he said. Although he’s now stopped flying for reasons of health, Nikkel is still working at the airport for as long as he can. “Aviation’s a sickness,” he said. He’s had it since he was boy, and shows no sign of recovery.

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75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

History

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

War, Depression, patriotism sparked airport

Langley’s airport began as a grass field with a few runways.

by Matthew Claxton

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

The Langley Regional Airport began its life out of a mixture of national pride, hope for the future, and Depression-era joblessness. In the 1930s, several airplanes would take off and land on occasion in the farm fields east of Langley Prairie. The land between 56th Avenue and what would become Fraser Highway was a popular spot. In the late 1930s, a national effort to create the infrastructure for cross-country aviation. In 1937, a program began to carve out new airports. The federal government bought land from the Berry family, and from a Dr. Saunders. The airport, at 216th Street and 56th, had been born. It was also a make-work project. The earliest work to create the airfield was done as a relief project, one designed to hire men put out of work by the Depression, historian Warren Sommer wrote in Nothing Without Effort, his history of the Township. In its early stages, the airfield was intended only for emer-

gency landings. It was simply three runways, a radio beacon, and some searchlights. In 1938, the first year it was open, the airport hosted its first crash. The airport was put to use in 1939, when war was declared with Germany and the Axis powers. Langley’s Bill Marr, who had loved flying since he was a boy, made his first landing on the field in a Tiger Moth biplane in 1940, while he was training with the nascent Royal Canadian Air Force. It would be another wartime pilot who would see the Langley Prairie Airport, as it was first known, develop into an aviation hub. Art Seller grew up a flightobsessed teenager during the Depression. He worked as many jobs as possible to save up for flying lessons, and by 1941 he had qualified for both private and limited commercial pilot licences. With those, he headed straight into the RCAF as a pilot without the need for further training. A Spitfire pilot, Seller was shot down over the beachhead during the D-Day invasion. He was taken prisoner and moved to Eastern Germany, where he survived brutal forced marches to the west as his captors moved their prisons away from the advancing Russian army.

Skyway Air Services was the single business that developed Langley into a commercial aviation hub in the 1940s and 1950s.

Langley Advance files

Even during his captivity, he was planning a future in the aviation business, his journal of the time revealed. After returning to Canada, Seller went into business in the aviation boom, first establishing the Royal City Flying Club at the Vancouver Airport. In 1947, he moved it out to Langley and changed the name to Skyway Air Services. With a pair of war-surplus Tiger Moths, he started giving flying lessons. He took on partners and employees, and the business grew rapidly. Seller was also the manager of the entire airport, along with

being one of the only business tenants. He leased the landing strip for $100 a year, and was also allowed to keep the proceeds of hay cut on the land. By 1948, Skyway expanded into crop dusting. The 1948 flood of the Fraser River left huge areas covered with standing water, and led to a bumper crop of mosquitos. Skyway was there to spray the pests – using the then-standard pesticide DDT. He also took his planes as far away as the Maritimes to spray a budworm infestation in 1952. In the late 1950s, the company would pioneer water-bombing in

B.C. for fighting forest fires. Eventually, Skyway had to relocate some of its operations to Abbotsford, for lack of space at Langley. Other flying schools and commercial operations joined Skyway. Private aircraft were flying out of the airport by the 1950s. In 1966, the federal control of the airfield ended when the Langley Airport was transferred to the control of the Township. After a quiet life serving private pilots and the local aviation industry, the airport began to boom in the 1990s when it began inviting more and more helicopter firms to locate there.

CONGRATULATIONS Langley Regional Airport on 75 years!

As one of the newest members of the Langley Airport community we would like to extend our “Happy 75th Birthday” wishes to all the members of the airport community. We look forward to the exciting new opportunities that the Langley Airport has to offer. Best wishes to the Langley Airport for another successful seventy five years. Congratulations for a job well done!! Yours truly, Daryle Redlin President Kodiak Aerospace

today! n i e v o M k, We’ll pac d move an u! o unpack y

Enjoy an independent lifestyle with assistance as needed, meet new friends, and relax in a bright, spacious suite. For more information call 604.539.3302 or info@langleyseniorsvillage.com

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LangleyAdvance

Langley Regional Airport

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Congratulations Langley Regional Airport on

Langley Advance files

Ups & downs Two photos from the Langley Advance in the 1960s illustrated the successes and setbacks of the first business at the Langley Airport. Left, Kinsmen committee chair Joe Widas, park commissioner Ed Batchelor, and pilot Percy Lotzer posed for a photo about how Skyway Air Services would raise money for a new recreation facility by selling $5 sightseeing flights. Above, a Skyway plane made a very rough landing by the side of a Langley road in the 1960s.

75

amazing years!

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75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

An eternally changing landscape

Congratulations! to the Langley Airport on its 75 years of service!

From our team to yours…

Thank You!

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A scan from a 1960s edition of the Langley Advance showed how different the community appeared from an airplane. At right, a blizzard in the same decade didn’t stop aviation, as a Skyway aircraft was fitted with skis for takeoffs on the grass runways. Langley Advance files

Congratulations…

Specializing in the design and construction of pre-engineeered steel building projects

The Township of Langley is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Langley Regional Airport! Providing Solutions for the Aviation Industry Ph: 604-986-4494 • Fax: 604-986-4490 Email: mail@jdgconstruction.ca

www.langleyadvance.com


Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

75th Anniversary

Tu esday, June 18, 2013

Harrison Residences Vic Bentley is planning to be one of two pilots taking up the Harvard to air shows this summer.

Independent and Assisted Living

Matthew Claxton Langley Advance

Vintage airplanes still flying …continued from page B7

The Harvard, known in the U.S. as the Texan, was a training aircraft used by thousands of pilots during the Second World War. A trainee fighter pilot would typically start with a Tiger Moth, a biplane. Then they would move onto the Harvard, before finally taking command of a Hurricane or Spitfire. For the inspection, every panel is being pulled off of the engine, the fuel tank covers are being repaired, and the landing gear must be tested. That means putting the wings up on jacks and testing the wheels ability to retract. An engineer will go over the plane to make sure it’s air worthy. Bentley and Findlay will be flying the Harvard this summer, taking it out nearby airshows and fly-ins. Flying a classic aircraft like the Harvard is done both for the interest in history, and the challenge. “They were a major part of the wartime effort,” said Bentley.

He added it is “a privilege, really, to fly something that not many other pilots do.” The challenge comes form the tailwheeled design, which few modern aircraft use, for good reason. It can make landings interesting. “You don’t relax until you’ve pulled up at your parking spot and shut your engine off,” Bentley said. While the many volunteers are keeping everything running mechanically, and bringing new life to old aircraft, museum general manager Terry Brunner is keeping things running practically. He’s been hoping for a long time to get the museum into a larger hangar, a dream that might be coming true relatively soon. In the meantime, there are numerous projects to oversee, and donations that still need to find a place. The most recent is a scale model replica of a P-38 Lightning. “You never know what walks through the door,” said Brunner.

“Congratulations on 75 Years from Your Closest Neighbours!

A Better Way of Life Harrison Landing

Harrison Pointe

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21616 52nd Avenue Langley 604-530-1101 www.harrisonpointe.ca

Congratulations on your 75th Anniversary! We are proud to be a part of the Langley Regional Airport Development. Come Fly With Us! Charter your next flight with us and see Beautiful British Columbia. • M.C. Welding Services Ltd. • AC Airways Ltd. Serving British Columbia and the Langley Community since 1980.

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Tu esday, June 18, 2013

75th Anniversary

Langley Regional Airport

LangleyAdvance

Congratulations!

Thank you for welcoming us aboard!

The FRASER BLUES... Smoke On!

i n f o @ m e r l i n - a i r. c o m

Photo courtesy of Justin Samson www.justinsamson.ca

LANGLEY REGIONAL AIRPORT

1-800-881-9914


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