In this new era of aviation, where cockpit doors remain locked during flights and security screenings have become progressively more restrictive, it is difficult for those with a passion or an interest in flight to get a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. It was with that in mind that the Region of Waterloo International Airport held an aviation career and fun day last Saturday as a way of opening up the doors of the airport to the general public. There’s also a hope the event would plant a seed of interest that could develop into a lifelong love of flight.
“It’s an opportunity for people to see into the world of aviation,” explained Bob Connors, general manager of the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre. “Not just for piloting airplanes, but for helicopters and ground support personnel. It gives families an opportunity to get close to an airport and aviation facility in a way that is more difficult to do now than it was 15 or 20 years ago.”
Members of the public had the chance to participate in a wide range of activities, from sight-seeing tours in an R44 Clipper helicopter to chatting with airport flight crews and agents from the Canada Border Services Agency.
Although the airport was recently named the 13th busiest in Canada in terms of plane movements (defined as takeoffs and landings), it is still small enough to grant staff and crews the freedom to hold these types of events, as opposed to larger airports such at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
“We aren’t under the same security restrictions as you are at a larger international airport,” said Chris Wood, the airport’s general manager. “We have the luxury of having people out on the ramp and to do sight-seeing
flights, which would be very difficult for obvious reasons at a larger airport.”
Both Wood and Connors said that they fell in love with flight at an early age, which only reiterated the overall purpose of the day: to help at least one other person discover a love for flying that they could carry with them for the rest of their life.
“There is just something infatuating about it,” smiled Connors, a pilot with nearly 40 years of experience.
“You either come down and say ‘Wow that’s really, really cool’ or you know that you’re not the least bit interested.”
The same rang true for Wood, who hoped to take his four-and-a-half year old son up in a small plane for the first time that day.
“We’re very hopeful that some kids leave saying, ‘I want to be in that industry one day.’”