Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Penticton needs its airport

Obviously, some people have no understanding of how the airport contributes to our local economy

A recent letter to the editor suggested that Penticton doesn’t need an airport.

Obviously, the writer has no understanding of how the airport contributes to our local economy.

Our airport provides scheduled passenger service, fixed-wing and helicopter training, medical evacuation services, forest firefighting support, search and rescue support and personal and business aviation. During 2017 there were over 20 medevac flights from Penticton. There has been more than 10 to date in 2018. These patients required advanced medical care not available in Penticton. Many of the flights included the infant transport team.

From May to October, the B.C. Wildfire Service has a minimum of two water bombers stationed at the airport in addition to other support aircraft. The Kaleden fire last summer would have been much more devastating if the water bombers were not stationed in Penticton.

PEPAir, the provincial arm of the national Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) has three aircraft and 31 volunteer members in Penticton. Over the past year, these volunteers assisted in major searches for two missing aircraft. PEPAir also assists Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) in locating lost or injured outdoor persons.

Penticton GSAR, utilizing the services of Eclipse Helicopters and HNZ Topflight, has a technical team trained in Helicopter External Transportation System (HETS) which provides evacuation of injured persons out of remote locations. Often these persons are suffering from life-threatening injuries.

For many years, HNZ Topflight has provided advanced and mountain helicopter training for thousands of military, police, corporate and civilian pilots from all over the world. BP Aviation offers private pilot training.

WestJet will be offering two scheduled flights per day to Calgary while Air Canada has up to four scheduled flights per day to Vancouver. With these flights, Penticton airport could see up to 210,000 passengers annually. Many of these passengers provide a customer base for tourism, convention, wineries and other hospitality sector operators.

Each year, the Penticton Flying Club provides over 100 Penticton youth, between the ages of 8 to 17, free flights under its COPA for Kids (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) program. This year, the club will provide the same experience for youth in Princeton.

Remember the “quality of life” that our airport provides:

• It provides residents access to distance emergency health care services;

• It provides access to Canada’s national air transportation network;

• It acts as a focal point for recreational and volunteer opportunities;

• It facilitates quick response to natural disasters and emergencies;

• It brings tourist dollars to the community.

Are you kidding me? Of course, Penticton needs an airport.

Chris Campbell

Central Zone Commander – PEPAir, member HETS Technical Team – Penticton Search and Rescue and treasurer – Penticton Flying Club