PORT HAWKESBURY: Over 2,300 people gathered at the Port Hawkesbury Airport to take in sights rarely seen in the local area – or the rest of the province, for that matter.
“The feedback we’re getting on social media, as well as phone calls, is overwhelming,” said Celtic Air Service vice-president Damian MacInnis, just a few days after the Atlantic Canada International Air Show of May 30.
“It’s such a positive response. You get a little chocked up at times, because you put your whole heart into it. Pulling off something like this is just surreal.
“It just blows my mind that we were able to pull this off.”
The Port Hawkesbury Airport, now under the stewardship of Celtic Air Services Ltd., had all the elbowroom of a mosh pit during the air show. The event featured several air craft on display, four food venders, displays by the Canadian Forces and local fire departments, the music of Eastbound, the emceeing of 101.5 The Hawk, and one of the signature showpieces of the Canadian military, the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron – otherwise known as the Snowbirds.
The number of people attending the show was so vast that parking at the facility was impossible for most attendees. Though some parking could be accommodated at the airport and neighbouring business J.B. Mechanical, the majority of folks left their cars at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre and were bused in by Strait Area Transit.
One driver told The Reporter he lost count of how many trips he made, but suspected it was at least nine or 10.
The centrepiece of the evening was the aerial show put on by nine members of the Snowbirds. The pilots put on a display of precision flying never before seen in the skies of the Strait area. The day before the air show, a “Soiree with the Snowbirds” took place at the airport, allowing some folks to rub elbows with the elite pilots.
Plotting out an event like the air show isn’t new territory for MacInnis or Dave Morgan, president of Celtic Air Services, as both have backgrounds in logistics. However, MacInnis said, the employees of Celtic Air Service deserve a lot of credit for making the event run so smoothly.
“Our employees are exceptional,” he said. “They’re focused, and they get where our mind set is and what our goals are. It was a total team effort.”
He added that several local businesses helped make the event a success, including media partners like The Reporter and 101.5 The Hawk, the aforementioned J.B. Mechanical, National Rent-A-Car, the BaRyKin Bistro, and many others.
The air show is representative of the long term plans of Celtic Air Services to make the Strait area a destination for visitors across the world, MacInnis said.
“We see bigger things for the whole area,” he said. “The undertaking was just a piece of where we want to go.
“We want to celebrate Cape Breton. We don’t care about being the face of it. We just want to make sure people understand what we have. We’re all tired of hearing about potential; there’s opportunity here, and we have to bring people in to understand what we have.
“The time is now. We have to take advantage of this.”
The folks at Celtic Air Service aren’t done with big events for the summer, as the company partnered with The Keltic Lodge and Kimberly Ibarra Inc. (a luxury brand developer based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida) to host a major golf event entitled the Highland Keltic Classic.
MacInnis and Morgan are also looking at bringing in helicopter tours and charter company in the future.
“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” MacInnis added.