Date: September 14, 1989
Location: Motreal, Canada
By: Mike King
Newspaper: The Gazette
At least 55,000 spectators gathered on or around the St. Hubert airport last weekend to witness the 10th annual Montreal International Air Show – minus its top guns.
The Snowbirds, the main attraction at the event the past nine years, didn’t perform as scheduled Saturday and Sunday.
But that didn’t stop an estimated 35,000 paying customers – including approximately 10,000 youngsters under the age of 12 – from attending. About another 20,000 people gathered to watch aerial displays from airport perimetres.
Officials from the Wings of Hope, sponsors of the event since 1985, say early calculations indicate the event raised $225,000 for the non-profit organization which flies supply and rescue missions In western South America, including the Amazon forest.
Marie-Louise Delisle, spokesman for the show known as Expo Air since the Wings of Hope took over operations of the international air show from Transport Canada five years ago, said the amount is about the same as the total collected in 1988.
Delisle said yesterday the money came mostly from gate receipts, a percentage of concession sales and a fund-raising dinner in Longueuil last Friday night.
Organizers say the annual international air show will be held in St. Hubert for the third consecutive year next spring. Instead of taking place in September, however, it will be moved ahead to May. It is also hoped the Snowbirds will return to the show.
The organizers tried to make up for the loss of the Canadian Forces’ precision flying squad by offering more than 120 military and civilian aircraft this year.
It marked the largest number of exhibits in the show’s decade-old history and helped boost attendance by more than 5,000 people from last year. The 1988 show had fewer than half the number of exhibits on display on the weekend.
The Snowbirds were indefinitely grounded in the wake of a tragic accident Labor Day weekend in Toronto that claimed the life of pilot Shane Antaya.
But another crowd favorite did return this year. The French Connection aerobatic team paid tribute to the Snowbirds on Saturday afternoon. The pair of aerobatic pilots dedicated one of the final manoeuvres in their daring program to the Snowbirds.
The two-day show was moved to St. Hubert in 1988 after the previous host, Mirabel airport, could no longer guarantee dates and times.