Back row from left, Don Oldenburg, Larry Bingham, Kevin Arychuk, and Shawn Jacula. Middle row from left, Ryan Baker, Darcy Balaneski, Larry Bensmiller, Jim Davies (who flew to the first meeting), Rick Bozak, and Jim Bristowe. Front row from left, Richard Prymak, Paul Conlon, and Matt Jaremco during the first Vermilion River Flying Club meeting on April 12. Photo Angela Mouly
Members of the Airport Advisory Committee hosted their first Flying Club meeting at the CYVG Vermilion Airport on April 12. The meeting was held to bring current pilots and users of the airport together with interested members. The Town of Vermilion’s Airport Advisory members Shawn Jacula, Darcy Balaneski, and Rick Bozak, along with ten additional interested members shared their background and aviation history, as well as their eagerness to have a group to network with benefiting one another, the airport, and the community. The club hopes to continue gaining more interest over the coming months. Members included pilots of all ages and ranges of experience including those looking to upgrade their training, helicopter, commercial, to some retired and looking to spend more time flying. “I think it’s important that our airport has a voice. There is a goldmine of an airport here in Vermilion with people being able to walk anywhere in town, which is an opportunity not many communities have. Elk Point’s airport is five miles out, and Lloydminster’s is two miles out, and it is an inconvenience in other places. In the past, people have flown with their grandchildren from Elk Point to Vermilion for a weekly ice cream visit. We have a nice facility to make use of here,” said Shawn Jacula regarding the airport building. Having a flying club will get members involved by going to events, and provide more ideas when pre-planning future upgrades; for example, the condition of the runway. “The more ideas we have from everyone, the better,” said Darcy Balaneski. The advisory committee has installed a sign-up sheet to track guests at the Vermilion Airport and will be installing a trail camera to monitor touch and go traffic as well. Recording these movements will give the committee viability to request funding. They want to make the club affordable and are seeking ten individuals who are Canadian Owners and Pilots Association members in order to be backed by the organization. Members are excited about the possibility of having a business and fuel at the Vermilion Airport in the near future. The club is also excited about the possibility of planning a fly-in breakfast and creating longer-term plans to enhance the Vermilion Airport. New members asked questions and gave suggestions including hosting a work bee to create tie-downs. They noted that recessed ones would be a good long term plan and that short term ones with tires or cement and rebar would be an option. “It’s a great reason to get together and shows that we are contributing,” said Jacula. The club hopes to create a web page to keep people informed, encourage mentorship within the club, and possibly even add a call list where residents with free evenings could enter to fill empty seated planes. “It’s always more fun if you have someone with you,” said Larry Bingham. Members passed around name suggestions, with one being the Vermilion River Flying Club. Jacula said that though there are other airstrips in the area, it is the only Airport within the County of Vermilion River, and they would like to encourage partnership with both the Town of Vermilion and The County of Vermilion River. It was noted that the airport even had a parachute club in the mid-1980’s. MedEvac air ambulance services still use the Vermilion Airport estimated on a weekly basis, and members feel lucky to have upgraded lighting. “One of the biggest things is safety. There’s great outreach within the aviation community,” said Jacula. “It’s a good airport for training or anything,” added Balaneski. They discussed the possibility coordinating with other local clubs and youth organizations when organizing future events, and like the idea of keeping things local. They even discussed the potential for having access to bicycles or a courtesy vehicle in the future.
The club will meet again on May 9, at 5:30 p.m. to elect executives. Anyone interested in joining is welcome to attend. “It’s just awesome to see this much interest, I can’t believe it!” concluded Larry Bingham.