High-flying recreational pilots land in Summerside
'It's a wonderful way to see Canada'
Despite nasty weather that dogged them across Quebec and northern Maine, a small squadron of dedicated recreational pilots safely landed at Summerside airport Sunday.
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Only seven of 21 small aircraft were able to make the flight to P.E.I. due to the weather.
Our group is dedicated to promoting local airports, such as Summerside airport.— Carol Cooke, Interprovincial Air Tour
"That's the way it goes sometimes," said pilot Lee (Leonce) Arsenault.
Arsenault, originally from Egmont Bay, flew his Diamond DA-40 from his home in Pickering, Ont., along with other members of the Interprovincial Air Tour.
'Great to be home'
"It's great to show the club members where I'm from. No matter what the weather, it's great to be home," said Arsenault.
Sunday's arrival on P.E.I. marks the first time in nine years of operation that the amateur pilots' tour has flown to Atlantic Canada.
Previously, it has toured exclusively in Ontario and Quebec.
Members are amateur pilots from Ontario, Quebec and the United States who own and fly small private aircraft, such as the four-seater Cessna flown by Ron and Carol Cooke of North Bay, Ontario.
'Important economic engines'
"It's a wonderful way to see Canada," said Carol. "And our group is dedicated to promoting local airports, such as Summerside airport. They are important economic engines in small communities."
Ron & Carol Cooke, Interprovincial Air Tour: "Local airports are high octane engines for the local economy" <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEI?src=hash">#PEI</a> <a href="https://t.co/TWAqiVC6HO">pic.twitter.com/TWAqiVC6HO</a>—@BrianHigginsCBC
The group is staying at a hotel in Slemon Park, the former air base in Summerside, and will be travelling the Island by road in the coming days to golf, dine and see the sights.
"We want more small groups like this in the future," said Larry Gaudet, Slemon Park's marketing and development director.
"It's a good fit. We offer services amateur pilots need to fly in and out, like aviation fuel, hotel rooms — and they add tourism revenue to the economy."
The pilots presented managers of Summerside airport with a plaque on Monday to commemorate the visit.