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Aviation enthusiasts pack Stanley Airport for annual Labour Day fly-in


Published on September 6, 2017

Mike Whitehead shows off his neon green Rans S-17 Stinger, which he assembled himself in his basement. Whitehead said the fly-in gives enthusiasts and pros a chance to swap stories and develop friendships.

©Colin Chisholm

STANLEY, N.S. – Bright green and yellow, old-school, replica, made from a kit – the descriptions that pilots, both amateur and veterans, give their respective aircrafts all include one overarching theme: pride.

The skies over Hants County were spotted by light aircrafts as pilots from all across the Maritimes and further afield landed at Stanley Airport over the Labour Day weekend for the 46th annual fly-in.

Mark McIntyre, with Temper Tantrum Racing, brought his Formula 1 racing aircraft to Stanley from Saint John, New Brunswick, to show it off and raise awareness for what they’re trying to do.

The single-seat aircraft, a Snowshoe SR-1, is built from scratch. It's made with a carbon-fibre shell and a steel tube chasis and is designed to do one thing – out-fly the competition.

“We’re hoping to see 200 to 245 miles per hour on the race track,” McIntyre said. “We just wanted to show others in the aviation community what other people in Atlantic Canada are doing. It can be done.”

The Air Cadets tow-plane waits for the runway to clear before hooking up to the Schweitzer 233, a glider.
Colin Chisholm

McIntyre, who works in the aviation industry, said he’s been to Stanley Airport before, but this was his first time at the fly-in.

Andre Gagne said the Schweitzer 233, a glider plane, is the one the Air Cadets use during training.

“It’s been a part of the program as long as I can remember, it’s a wonderful aircraft, nice to train on,” Gagne said. “I’ve been coming here to Stanley here well before Cadets. I always love seeing the aircraft and you meet a ton of great people.”

Brian Chappell, vice president of the Stanley Sport Aviation Association, said the fly-in is one of the longest continuing fly-ins in the country. 

On Sept. 2, Chappell said there were approximately 40-50 light aircraft lined up on the field.

Tessa Wolthers, 6 and Ryker Wolthers, 4, looked pretty excited to check out the Air Cadets’ Schweitzer 233, a glider, at the Stanley fly-in on Sept. 3, 2017.
Colin Chisholm

Weather impacted a few people who were planning to travel to the small airport in East Hants, but Chappell said the event was largely a success, with many visitors taking part in the corn boil, live music and fireworks.

There’s a judging component, where the different planes are evaluated based on their category, but the fly-in is mainly about talking shop.

“Some people, you know them, but you only see them once every year at this event,” Chappell said. “It’s not just airplanes too; we also get a large number of campers and trailers. It’s just a fun weekend.”

Mike Whitehead, from Hammonds Plains, is based out of the Stanley Airport and was showing off his ultra-light aircraft, which stood out due to its neon-green colouring.

“I assembled it myself from a kit, a Rans S-17 Stinger,” Whitehead said. “I’ve been interested in aviation all my life. My dad was in the air force and from my earliest memories, I’ve always been around airplanes.”

Whitehead said he was thrilled to be at the fly-in to chat with fellow pilots and swap tales about flying.

Unfortunately with older planes, sometimes there’s engine trouble, as was the case with the Air Cadet’s tow-plane, a Cesna L-19. The plane was grounded, but luckily the engine trouble happened on the ground and not in the air. The glider, seen in the background, would have to wait before heading back up in the air.
Colin Chisholm

“My airplane is on the lower end of sophistication, being a basic ultra-light, but I think it’s a wonderful opportunity and venue for people who want to fly to do so on the lower end of the budget range,” he said. “I built it in my garage over a couple of years, working on it Friday nights, and it’s significantly cheaper.”

The cockpit is totally open save for the glass windshield, but Whitehead said he feels safe flying in it.

“I’m not particularly fond of heights, but I feel perfectly comfortable flying this,” he said.