Airport highlights aviation history

Fort McMurray International Airport hosts first annual family fun event

By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

Hundreds of residents celebrated the first annual Airport Family Fun Day on April 17. The day featured family-friendly activities of arts and crafts, as well as, playing with paper planes on a mini YMM runway. Photo by FLYYMM.com

Hundreds of residents celebrated the first annual Airport Family Fun Day on April 17. The day featured family-friendly activities of arts and crafts, as well as, playing with paper planes on a mini YMM runway. Photo by FLYYMM.com

Over 300 residents joined the Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) on April 17 for their first inaugural Airport Family Fun Day event.

The celebration highlighted the relaunch of the historic artifact collection located on the third floor’s Observation Area. The collection was loaned by Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and showcases local bush pilot W.R. “Wop” May, which includes Wop’s rifle case, a wooden monkey that he hung in his plane, and a pair of flying mittens that bush pilots used.

Jillian Philipp of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority said aviation exploration and innovation has a rich history in the Northern Alberta, and there’s no better place in the region to highlight it.

“Many early Canadian aviation pioneers learned to fly in Europe during the First World War. Upon their return home, they displayed ingenuity and bravery as bush pilots flying into Northern Alberta,” she explained. “These pilots played a very important role in the growth of our region, and the airport is a perfect place to showcase the contributions of these brave men.”

One of the goals of the event was to give residents the opportunity to learn more about YMM’s Observation Area and see the many family activities available in the space.

“Many people don’t realize we have such an amazing space for the community to enjoy,” she said. “With spectacular views of the runway, children and their families are able to watch planes land and take off, see the ground crews at work and look at the surrounding area through the supplied binoculars. Of course, we also want to showcase Northern Alberta’s aviation history in an interactive and educational manner.”

The artifact and exhibit displays were made possible with a partnership with the Fort McMurray Heritage Society, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and the Alberta Aviation Museum. The new installations also include a display of a Canadian Airways Limited Junkers Ju-52 1M (CF-ARM) model aircraft, also known as the ‘Flying Boxcar’. The Ju-52 was an aerial freighter and the largest airplane in Canada when it was manufactured in 1931.
Additionally, the Alberta Aviation Museum loaned YMM an original 1928 Gypsy 1 engine. In its time, 1,445 Gypsy engines were built and were used for many record flights, including the first female-solo flight from Britain to Australia in 1930.

The Observation Area is open 24/7 and located in pre-security to make accessible to the public. The Fort McMurray Airport Authority invites residents to continue the excitement of watching planes arrive and depart.

Learn more at www.FlyYMM.com.