For those looking to take a regional vacation this summer, Quesnel could be a sky-high plan.
Quesnel Skyfest 2015 will take place on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 — which happens to be the B.C. Day long weekend.
Skyfest this year features the world-famous Snowbirds team.
Building on the success of the 2013 show, volunteer organizers are planning crowd-favourite performances by aerial artists Quesnel audiences are beginning to recognize, new and exciting pilots with amazing tricks in their cockpits and events and surprises that will be revealed as times are nailed down and details confirmed for the event.
In addition to the Snowbirds, the air show will also boast the formidable McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet, which is slated to participate in a very special event.
An integral part of Skyfest are the volunteers, including Betsy Van Halderen, whose passion for aviation was gathered from her late husband, Jerry Van Halderen Sr. and spread to son Jerry Jr. and daughter-in-law Barb.
In 2002, Jerry Sr. purchased a Long-EZ plane, built and piloted by Swiss pilot Hans Schmid, which had broken more than 100 flying records by circling the globe twice to celebrate the Millennium.
Ten years ago, Betsy and Jerry Jr. learned to fly and have maintained their love of aviation ever since. Jerry and Barb soon bought their own plane and joined the Quesnel Flying Club, which organized the first Skyfest in 2010.
A separate, non-profit society, Quesnel Skyfest Society, was formed to produce the next Skyfest in 2012 and the highly successful Skyfest 2013. Betsy helped out in the VIP area in 2010 and with the organization of the 2012 show even though she wasn’t able to attend the show itself.
However, 2013’s Quesnel Skyfest was a different story.
“I was in it from the beginning and really stepped up with the volunteers,” she said. “And I’ve been working on Skyfest 2015 since the gates closed on 2013.”
Planning for Skyfest 2015 has been very different. Quesnel has established itself as a air-show destination and performers and regulatory officials are now requesting to come to this show.
“We have arrived,” Betsy said.
On May 26, Williams Lake city council gave permission for a flyover of Williams Lake below 1,000 feet during the weekend by the CF-18 demo team and the snowbirds.