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Smoky conditions affect Sundre fly-in breakfast's return

Sky above Sundre was mostly clear and crowd returned to see a variety of aircraft including several helicopters after the event was cancelled last year

SUNDRE – Pilots who were able to fly into town for the return of the Mother’s Day Fly-in Breakfast were all clear for landing on Sunday.

However, while the skies above Sundre were mostly clear, the smoky conditions that reduced visibility farther north prevented many pilots who wanted to attend from coming, said an organizer.

“We only had a third of the aircraft that we were expecting,” said Sundre Flying Club director Bruno Bradley, adding there were some 20-plus aircraft.

The visibility near Sundre was not an issue, but pilots who had intended to fly in from pretty well anywhere north of Innisfail had to abort their plans, said Bradley, adding that visibility in some areas was down to barely more than a mile, which is below what are known as visual flight rules.

Yet despite air quality warnings that had recently been issued as wildfires rage both in northern B.C. and Alberta with a haze that started settling into the Sundre area on Saturday evening, the local skies seemed otherwise fairly clear on Sunday morning, with good visibility and nary a scent of smoke in the air.

And it didn’t take very long for a dedicated public parking area to start filling up as crowds came out for breakfast and to see a variety of aircraft.

“We come here every year,” said Hayden Korethoski, who now lives in Lethbridge but originally hails from Sundre.

He came out to see the return of the fly-in, which was cancelled last year, alongside his mom Crystal Decoste and brother Gavin Decoste. They got a chance to sit in the pilot seat of a helicopter owned and flown into the Sundre Airport by Alan Acker, a member of the Rocky Mountain Flying Club who enjoys coming out for the event every chance he gets.

“It builds a sense of community,” said Korethoski when asked why he enjoys coming back whenever he can, adding, “I love it.”

Acker is also a regular at the fly-in breakfast, and was glad to see its return this year.

“They do put on a very nice breakfast,” he said.

And while some fly-in breakfasts tend to mostly draw out other pilots and folks from the aviation community, the Mother’s Day event in Sundre seems to boast a wider appeal that brings in a greater variety of people from the public at large, he said.

So Acker was pleased to see enthusiastic youth such as Gavin who were eager to learn more about the aircraft.

“I kind of like doing that,” he said about introducing those who are interested to his helicopter’s instrumentation and control panels.

Members of the West Country Cruisers car club were also back with numerous vehicles on display for people to check out, and organizers this year decided to introduce a children’s play area by bringing in face painting and some bouncy castles, which proved popular with youth including Soren Jensen, 7, who had plenty of excess energy to burn after the hearty breakfast.

“It’s fun,” said his mom Dominique Jensen, who for the second time since relocating to Sundre about four years ago came out with husband Curtis Jensen and their younger son Percy, 5.

“It’s nice to see the planes,” she said, adding “The kids love it.”

Bradley told the Albertan about 375 breakfasts were sold with rodeo royalty offering some additional help to volunteers in loading up plates for people who came out with their appetites. But children and pilots ate at no cost, and he estimated more than 500 breakfasts were served overall.

Proceeds from the event, he added, will go toward both a new bursary that the flying club introduced this year for youth who are interested in pursuing a career in aviation, as well as to the Sundre rodeo royalty program.

He also expressed gratitude to Mountain View County for getting involved and facilitating the introduction of bouncy castles and face painting, which he hoped offered a bit of a break for moms to take a minute to enjoy their meal. 

“What I wanted was a chance to give the mothers a little bit of a break,” he said.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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