(Photo courtesy the Trail Historical Society)

(Photo courtesy the Trail Historical Society)

Trail Blazers: Navigating the friendly skies

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature between the Times and the Trail Museum and Archives

With commercial carrier service resuming from the Trail Regional Airport on June 1, this week’s Trail Blazers fittingly pays homage to the history of flying in and out of this municipal asset.

Jesslyn Jarvis, collections coordinator for the Trail Museum and Archives, sent this image from Nov. 2, 1974 titled the “Grand Opening of the Trail Municipal Airport.”

The ceremony marked the completion of the newly paved, 3,000-foot airstrip.

The ribbon was cut by Miss Trail Dawn Santeluscu, music was played by the Maple Leaf Band, and the ceremony was attended by Mayor Charles Lakes, Alderman Geno LeRose, BC Aviation Council representative Al Lang, Ministry of Transport representative Pierre Deneverill, air cadets and the public.

Dr. John Hall, Chairman of the Castlegar Airport Committee, performed an aerobatic display.

Airport history

The Trail Airport began as the Columbia Gardens Airport. It was established in 1929 by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (now Teck Resources), when the company began operating a fleet of airplanes for mineral exploration across Canada.

A 2,000-foot landing strip and a large hangar to house the fleet was constructed.

Columbia Gardens Airport was leased, maintained and operated by the City of Trail until 1937, and then the District of Tadanac until 1959. For the next 10 years, the City of Trail and the District of Tadanac shared the lease, until the amalgamation of Trail and Tadanac in 1969.

After amalgamation and for another 13 years, the City of Trail took over complete responsibility for operations.

Then, in 1982, the lease was transferred to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Trail Regional Airport now

In 2014, the city paid $1.28M to buy back the airport from the regional district.

There has been significant investment to modernize the municipal asset since then, mostly through federal and provincial grants.

In the past six years, the Trail Regional Airport has received more than $4.8M in ACAP funding for four safety projects, including the rehabilitation of airside pavement; the purchase of a runway condition reporting system; and the replacement of a snowplow truck and runway sweeper.

The first dedicated terminal was completed in 2017 using a $1.2M grant from the province, with the city funding the remaining $2.2M.

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