SHOAL LAKE — Folks lined the grounds in folding chairs and blankets Wednesday evening as the Snowbirds kicked off the Shoal Lake Airshow.
The Snowbirds also came down from their home at CFB Moose Jaw in 1992 to celebrate the opening of the Shoal Lake Airport.
The Shoal Lake Flying Club and Shoal Lake Aviation are both celebrating their silver jubilees this year.
Twenty-five years later and they came back to treat Westman with another show, full of twists, turns and exciting air tricks.
"What Shoal Lake will see tonight is an exciting, thrilling, ‘high show,’ we call it," a spokesperson for the Snowbirds said before the show.
Since the weather was near perfect, the Snowbirds were able to perform to the best of their abilities, and graced the audience with their famous "maple split" manoeuvre.
As an added surprise, the Snowbirds dedicated the "heart" manoeuvre of their show to Capt. Bradley Ashcroft of Shoal Lake, a Royal Military College graduate who died in a small plane crash outside Winnipeg on July 1, 2016.
The two-day event kicked off Tuesday evening at the Shoal Lake Communiplex with a meet and greet with the Snowbirds, aerobatic performer Bill Carter, and other acts. Children’s activities and live music were enjoyed on the grounds, and a formal program was held at 7:30 p.m.
Buses started arriving at the Shoal Lake Airport at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. For the remainder of the afternoon, there were aircrafts and cars on display, with food and merchandise for sale.
Aviators from across the Prairies flew into Shoal Lake to show off their aircrafts and chat with fellow pilots.
Kit Harrison flew in from Brandon in his AutoGyro Cavalon.
The AutoGyro is classified by Transport Canada as a gyrocopter, which is a similar to a helicopter, but the gyrocopter’s rotor requires air flowing through the rotor disc to generate rotation.
"It’s a unique vehicle," Harrison said. "The wing rotates freely, there’s nothing mechanically driving it."
The propellor, at the back of the plane, pushes the aircraft forward, and he said the machine runs on premium car fuel.
Harrison and his wife, Sue, took a vacation to Costa Rica where they experienced a ride on the AutoGyro Cavalon for the first time. He said from there, he fell in love with the gyrocopter
"It’s relatively unknown in most part of Canada," Harrison said. "There’s more of them all the time. It’s a very affordable, personal air vehicle."
Prior to Costa Rica, Harrison’s interest in flying was peaked as a young man, by his uncle who was a flight trainer in Rivers.
"I would go down to Florida," Harrison said. "He worked at a gliding school, so I got my gliding licence first … and just kind of moved into this category, and I’m enjoying it!"
Harrison gave a demonstration of the unique aircraft following the main show on Wednesday evening.