The CF18 demo exhibition is always one of the fan favourites at the Comox Air Show.

The CF18 demo exhibition is always one of the fan favourites at the Comox Air Show.

Comox Air Show grounded for 2017

Organizers hope that crowd-pleasing event will return in 2019

The Comox Air Show will not be happening next year — but 19 Wing hopes the ever-popular event will return in 2019.

Organizing an air show is a big enough task under normal circumstances. In 2017, manpower will be an even bigger challenge because the base has been tasked with additional operational duties.

“We’ve been identified as the primary wing to support whatever deployment we’re asked to go to on behalf of the Air Force,” Lt.-Col. Clint Mowbray said. “Running an air show is not mandated activity for the military. It’s something that as aviators we obviously like to do. I’ve been doing air shows since I was a kid. But it is a lot of work, and it’s on top of the regular duties of the military personnel a lot of the time.”

The last Comox Air Show was held in 2015. The 2013 show drew about 15,000 spectators — the largest single day event in the Valley.

Comox Mayor Paul Ives recalls a lengthy hiatus before the 2013 event, largely because of overseas engagements in Afghanistan and other locations.

“We have to respect that that’s their primary role,” he said. “It’s certainly nice to have an air show, but they have to tackle their operational requirements first and foremost.

“That is their role, of course, in serving the country and our community.”

Last year, a large number of events in the Valley yielded the highest hotel occupancy rate in years — “testament to the diversity of all the various other festivals and activities that we do have,” Ives said.

He expects the lack of an air show will free up some sponsorship dollars for other events, such as the annual Shellfish Festival and Nautical Days.

“We’ll do just fine as a Valley,” Ives said.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada, which he expects will mean more activities on the agenda.

2017 is also the 75th anniversary of 442 Squadron.

“There’s some manpower there working on that,” Mowbray said. “And Fixed Wing SAR is hopefully going to be announced soon.”

 

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