The Lethbridge International Airshow returned this weekend.
Dallas Harty, board president for the Lethbridge International Airshow Association, said he was blown away by the support.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we expect the attendance we got today. It just absolutely shocked us,” said Harty.
He estimates that up to 20,000 people attended the event on Saturday. Such large numbers meant backed-up traffic past Scenic Drive, taking close to two hours to get into the show.
Danica Aggli has been going to the Airshow with her family since she was a kid. She had dreams of one day being a Snowbird. Now she’s a flight attendant and she said she was happy to see the Airshow back in Lethbridge, even with the traffic she had to endure to get there.
“It took us about an hour to get from just before Costco to here this morning, but it’s so worth it once you’re here,” said Aggli.
Gordon Lowe showed his Boeing-Stearman Model 75 in the static aircraft display. The Stearman is known for training most U.S. military pilots who fought in World War II. Lowe said he loves seeing people get excited about the planes.
“Lot’s of people, they come out and they don’t realize what these airplanes will do,” said Lowe. “You can roll them and spin them and do hammerhead stalls and there’s smoke coming out.”
Julianna Ouellette attended her first Airshow at three years old. She’s had her eye on the sky ever since and at 21 years old, she got her commercial pilot licence. Now able to fly for herself, she said one plane caught her attention this weekend.
“Of course the Canadian Forces F-18 Hornet,” said Ouellette. “Lot’s of noise, lot’s of power and I’d love to fly one someday.”
Jesse Haggart-Smith, the 2022 F-18 Demonstration Pilot, said it’s a lot of hard work flying the powerful plane, but it’s a dream come true.
“The adrenaline rush of just pointing straight at the ground in full after-burn and pulling up just at the right time so you can recover, that’s something amazing,” said Haggart-Smith.
“I think I’m the luckiest guy on earth getting to fly around the F-18 day in and day out.”
Harty said they’ve learned a lot from this weekend after not having the Airshow for five years.
The board is already preparing for the next Lethbridge International Airshow in 2024.