Penticton’s recent hosting of three of the Canadian Forces elite aviation factions turned out to be a bonus for 100 Royal Canadian Air Cadets.
During a several hour visit to Penticton Regional Airport last week, the group had an opportunity to meet on the flight line with members of the SkyHawks Parachute Team, Snowbirds ground crew and CF-18 pilot Matthew Kutryk.
As well, they toured the on site world-class HNZ Helicopter training centre as well as the B.C. Forest air tanker base and watched the Peachfest air show.
The advanced cadets who come from across Western Canada were stationed in Vernon on a drill and ceremonial course.
“It’s very important for them to hear from the people who do the job because they get an opportunity to speak one on one and find out what the history and the roots are they need to take to accomplish the same goals,” said Major David Kerr of Penticton, the area elemental advisor who oversaw the trip. “It was pretty spectacular, being able to attend the flight line and be directly involved at the airport and on the ground with the flight crew.
“At the end of the day they went down to Okanagan Lake Park and experienced the SkyHawks performance, the Snowbirds and the CF-18. I’m sure they went home with a sense they accomplished a great deal in the aviation world in their trip from Vernon to Penticton.”
Kerr added the stars aligned perfectly for the cadets with the Armed Forces attendance for the Penticton Peach Festival.
“It was an extraordinary event and I heard that it was one of their best days every during the training session,” he said. “The were just ecstatic. They talked about adventure and opportunity. It really was an opportunity of a lifetime for them.”
Kerr added many of the cadets had never had an opportunity to have a close up look at the Snowbirds or the CF-18.
Having been involved in the air cadet program for 30 years the major believes this kind of exposure for the young people will help generate interest for many in a career in aviation.
“I enjoy it when cadets are successful,” said Kerr. “I appreciate the training we offer them that they couldn’t get on the street, the quality of which is phenomenal.”