Mayor Sharon Gaetz prepares to go on an aerobatic flight with Dave Mathieson at the Chilliwack Airport on Wednesday morning. 'Super Dave'

Mayor Sharon Gaetz prepares to go on an aerobatic flight with Dave Mathieson at the Chilliwack Airport on Wednesday morning. 'Super Dave'

Sky’s the limit at Chilliwack Flight Fest

Chilliwack Flight Fest is about more than aerobatics and aerial mastery.

The annual Chilliwack Flight Fest will take to the air again this weekend.

But the event is about more than aerobatics and aerial mastery, says organizer Ray Firkus. It’s about inspiring a new generation to test their wings and pursue their dreams.

Some of the biggest names in the airshow circuit will be returning to Chilliwack this Sunday – pilots like Dan Buchanan and Bud Granley who just performed at the Abbotsford Air Show last weekend.

Buchanan is a master of powerless flight, says Firkus, and a true inspiration. After an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, Buchanan returned to the air, mastering both sail planes and hang gliders. His performance, which often involves pyrotechnics that he rigs himself, has earned widespread acclaim, including three awards for showmanship.

Bud Granley, meanwhile, also has a couple of showmanship awards to his name. He’ll be back with his signature move – a snap roll just seconds after takeoff.

“Super Dave” Mathieson returns with a new plane this year. The popular performer will be flying the MX2 – considered to be the most advanced aerobatic aircraft in the world.

But Super Dave doesn’t just shake things up in the air. He’s also a partner in the Ryan J. Poe Foundation, which was established to help young people make the right decisions in life, using aviation to “inspire, motivate and provide a path for young people to realize their dreams.”

This week Mathieson has invited a couple of local young people to experience the thrill of flight, Firkus says, and hopefully help them recognize their potential.

There will be another special guest at this year’s Fight Fest that will show young people what is possible.

Lt.-Col. Scott Greenough graduated from Sardis Secondary School in 1987 and is currently the commanding officer of 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – home base of Canada’s famed Snowbird aerobatic team. (Greenough, in fact, is married to Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael, the Snowbird squadron’s commanding officer).

Greenough has 2,400 hours in the CF-Hornet, and has served overseas (Bosnia-Herszegovina, Italy) and North America. His training is extensive, including Top Gun honours from Fighter Weapons Instructor Course.

He’ll be at Sunday’s Flight Fest with a CT-156 Harvard II – a premier training aircraft for future CF-18 pilots. He won’t be flying, but he will be there to meet the public, says Firkus, “answering questions and hopefully inspiring young people on what they can do with their lives.”

There will be other static displays, like the Langley Museum of Flight. And in the air, John Mrazek will take his Harvard through a remarkable series of moves that are both graceful and powerful.

The Chilliwack Flight Fest is free, thanks to the work of volunteers, Firkus says, and the corporate support from businesses like the Overwaitea Food Group. “They came up at an early stage that allowed us to commit to the show,” he says.

They’ll also be hosting pancake breakfast Sunday morning, with all funds raise going to the BC Children’s Hospital.

Flight Fest kicks off with a barbecue and hanger dance Saturday evening.

The pancake breakfast starts at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. The main gates open at 10 a.m., with a demonstration flights for the Chilliwack Radio Control Club starting at 11. The air show follows at 1 p.m.

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