November 18th, 2017

Air Show organizers weren’t going to tempt Mother Nature

By Martin, Tijana on July 17, 2017.

© Lethbridge Herald photo by Tijana Martin Geoff Later races his fully restored Nanchang CJ-6A against a Ferrari during the last day of the Lethbridge International Air Show on Sunday. @TMartinHerald

Tijana Martin

Lethbridge Herald

The 25th Lethbridge International Air Show felt turbulence of its own after the show was cancelled early Saturday afternoon.

Marc Ouellette, the air show vice president, said it’s the first time he can recall that unfavourable weather forced the show to shut down early.

“Looking at the radar, we had a storm moving in, and it was moving in very quickly, that we had to evacuate,” he said. “We had to clear people for safety reasons and knowing that there was another one coming in – even though it did miss us – it was too close to take that chance.”

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, the air show was cancelled for the day; aerial performers were initially scheduled to continue on until 5 p.m.

But the decision to cancel was not easy.

“It was with heavy hearts that we did it, but safety is first, and there are rules and safety regulations in place for that purpose. As soon as the (storm) was five miles away, we have to call it.”

Five minutes after they called an evacuation, Ouellette said there was a lightning strike on the runway. “It started a fire at the end of the runway Saturday afternoon, during that period of time; that’s how close it was.”

Ouellette addressed concerns from the public that the decision was hasty and noted that even if they had continued, the delays from the storm would have impacted the show either way.

A NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) agreement was made with Transport Canada for 5 p.m and he felt not all performers would have been able to fly regardless.

Patrons that were able to show proof of purchase for Saturday’s show were allowed into Sunday’s performance free of charge.

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