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PHOTOS: Smoky skies prevent planes from flying at Flight Fest in Chilliwack

Despite no in-air performances, ground show was ‘huge success,’ says organizer

Smoke from nearby wildfires put the kibosh on aircraft taking to the skies at Flight Fest in Chilliwack on Sunday.

Although the winds were blowing in the right direction, it wasn’t enough to clear the smoke.

“We will only fly if it’s safe,” said organizer Wayne Oberst at a time when planes were scheduled to be in the air on Aug. 20.

There was one pilot who did a fly-by test later in the day but the visibility was still too poor and it was deemed unsafe for the in-air performances to take place.

Transport Canada requires a minimum visibility height of 1,000 feet – which there was – but also a visibility distance of three miles, said Ray Firkus of Firkus Aircraft.

That would mean being able to see Chilliwack Mountain or the base of Promontory from the Chilliwack Airport.

It’s that three miles of visibility that they didn’t have Sunday afternoon as the mountains remained obscured behind a wall of smoke.

Despite no planes in the air, the other entertainment was still a huge hit.

Volunteers and organizers put on a “spectacular” ground presentation, Oberst said.

Families flocked to the kids’ zone to build wooden toys and make other crafts. People got a close-up look at aircraft on the tarmac and had the chance to chat with pilots, and the food trucks and vendors were busy throughout the afternoon.

Many people at Flight Fest and online thanked the volunteers and others who made the show happen.

“Flight Fest 2023 was a huge success despite the planes being grounded,” Oberst said.

The ground show was “off the charts and we just wish it was safe enough to put planes in the air,” he said.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: Aerobatic pilots soar over Chilliwack at Flight Fest 2022


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Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
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