Pilot Pat Floyd of the Alberni Flying Club lands the club’s Cessna 172 on the new end of the runway at the Alberni Valley Flying Club, Sunday, May 21. The plane is the first to land on the expanded runway since it closed last July for construction. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Alberni’s airport reopens with expanded runway

First air traffic includes Cessna four-seaters, 727 jet

The Alberni Valley Regional Airport re-opened to limited air traffic on Sunday, May 21, and already aviation traffic has picked up.

Construction to the runway is two months behind schedule after closing last July for an expansion.

The first aircraft to land on the newly expanded runway was a Cessna 172 piloted by Pat Floyd and owned by the Alberni Flying Club, which had been temporarily relocated to the Qualicum Beach Airport so club members could still use their plane. The second aircraft to land was another Cessna, this one owned by Ray Bowerman of Nanaimo.

“We had insider information” that the airport was going to open on Sunday, said Ray’s co-pilot and wife Marilyn. Their family business, Bowerman Excavating, has the contract for the runway expansion, so they knew the initial paving was completed.

The third aircraft to land, and the most exciting for the small crowd gathered at the airport, was a 727 jet coming in from Tucson, Arizona, for maintenance at the Coulson Aviation hangar.

The expansion is not quite finished, so pilots expecting to land in Port Alberni need prior permission from airport superintendent Mark Fortune. Construction and painting of the runway markings was to continue this week, and the contractor will work around planes needing to land at the airport.

“We probably have another month and a half before we’ll have an official opening,” Fortune said. “We’ll have a soft opening with approximately 2,200 feet sometime in early June; that will allow us to have the lights finished and the painting finished.

“At the east end of the field we still have to put civil works in the ground. It’s finally dried out; that’s been the major setback. We’re almost two months behind schedule with the weather we’ve had this spring.”

Airport lighting should be completed and fully operational by mid-July, he said.

The 727 won’t be the only jet the airport will see: Coulson Aviation has purchased six 737-300s for conversion to air tankers, according to fireaviation.com.

“This aircraft will be converted to an airtanker and is why the airport expansion was so important to us,” Wayne Coulson said, adding that he expects the first B 737-300 to arrive sometime this week.

Coulson Aviation wins USAF contract for tank system

Coulson Aviation has already been converting C-130 aircraft with new tank systems. In 2016 it was announced that Coulson Aviation won a United States Air Force contract to design, manufacture, and install up to seven 3500 US Gallon Aerial Retardant Delivery Systems in C-130H model aircraft.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

 

Pilot Pat Floyd of the Alberni Flying Club lands the club’s Cessna 172 on the new end of the runway at the Alberni Valley Flying Club, Sunday, May 21. The plane is the first to land on the expanded runway since it closed last July for construction. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

A 727 jet from Tucson, Arizona kicks up vortices of dust as it lands at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, Sunday afternoon. The jet was the third aircraft to land on the newly expanded runway and the largest of the day. TONY SHUMUK PHOTO

Just Posted

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Port Alberni’s drug death rate ‘highest on Island’ says medical health officer

British Columbia entered a state of emergency in 2017 over the opioid crisis

B.C. BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

B.C. BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

Family Day fun in the Alberni Valley

Port Alberni’s Parks, Recreation and Heritage department hosted a plethora of free activities

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

UBCO students to get medical cannabis coverage

Kelowna - The pilot project will be implemented in April

Vancouver Island job market ever-evolving

Various sectors driving employment in region will be represented at Black Press career fair in Comox Feb. 8

BC BUDGET: NDP push for purpose-built rentals in ‘historic’ $1.6B investment

Hundreds of thousands of new low- and middle-income units coming over three years

B.C. BUDGET: More for wildfire recovery, campsites

NDP government to hire 20 more Conservation Officers this year

B.C. BUDGET: Surpluses predicted for three years

Tax revenues up, ICBC losses weigh heavily on provincial books

Parts of B.C. see record-breaking temperatures in cold snap

Sechelt, Yoho National Park were the chilliest ever Monday

Most Read