The cloud cover hovered just above the mountains as Trail city council members, community boosters, and airport volunteers and staff gathered at the Trail Airport to celebrate the city officially taking ownership of the small cluster of buildings and airstrip Saturday.
“This was successful operation already and I see this as an opportunity to build on that success, an opportunity for economic development for the region,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs. “Now that it belongs to one city rather than the region it will make it more straight forward for decision making, I see the opportunities for development being better. We can make it even more successful.”
Pacific Coastal staff received notification of the flight’s approach and they and the airport volunteers went into action.
“We have to be able to see the mountain tops to the east and north and south for the plane to be able to land,” said Kirsty Tichauer, station supervisor for Pacific Coastal Airlines in Trail. “I’d say the ceiling is at about 4,000 to 5,000 feet. It shouldn’t be a problem coming in today.”
The mayor was handed a fluorescent safety vest and received last-minute instruction from Al Doherty. Bogs was given the task of acting as honourary volunteer for the occasion and assisting to marshal the flight in to the passenger unloading area.
As the plane taxied in, Bogs and Doherty walked onto the tarmac and took their position, the mayor directly behind Doherty, and together they waved the plane into position with their fluorescent orange batons.
The mayor then went and personally welcomed each of the passengers as they debarked from the plane.
Afterwards, as Bogs and long time Trail airport supporter and volunteer, Don Nutini, walked off of the landing area together smiling, Nutini was heard to say, “It’s a great day, Dieter.”
The day began with staff and various council members bustling about delivering drinks and flower arrangements for the event as airport volunteers and staff held last minute conferences discussing protocols for the day.
Add in the laughter, balloons, and large celebratory cake it was a festive occasion.
The mayor arrived and briefly circulated amongst the 50 or so people who had come for the celebration.
Bogs cut the cake and the crowd mingled, collecting draw prizes of complimentary Pacific Coastal swag bags and drinking steaming cups of coffee while chatting.
Nutini was as busy as anyone dividing his time between preparing for the incoming flight from Vancouver and greeting those who had come for the event.
Although volunteer activities at the airport will eventually give way to paid City of Trail positions, he and fellow volunteers, Doherty, Kevin Bagg, Neil Craig, and Michael Whitehead, would still have their hands full keeping the planes landing for some time yet.
“We’ll be staying on for awhile until everything gets worked out,” said Nutini. “Eventually, I think there will only be two people and the manager. I think they’ll need a manager who isn’t afraid to pick up a snow shovel when they need to though.”
The crowd then moved onto the tarmac and mayor and council moved to stand near a spotless, newer-looking snow plow, and Bogs said a few words before he stripped off a piece of paper covering a new City of Trail decal on the door of the machine to the applause of the spectators.
The city has been interviewing for an airport manager and is close to making their final decision now that the purchase has been formalized.
Sandra Stoddart-Hansen has been acting as interim manager for the airport and is comfortable with surrendering her duties in the near future.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I’ll be on board until the selection for permanent manager has been made and stay on for the transition.”