The 888 (Komox) Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association wants to make sure all veterans are given the special treatment they deserve at the Comox Air Show.
With that in mind, 888 members are inviting all veterans to attend the show as their special guests.
“There’s a lot of veterans here in the Valley who know that we might be doing something at the air show for them, but they are not quite sure what is happening, or how to take advantage of it,” said Comox Air Show executive director Terry Chester. “So we just wanted to let them know what’s going on.”
For the third time, 888 Wing will be hosting a veterans’ chalet at the air show – a special section dedicated to, and reserved for, those who have served in the Canadian military. Upon arrival to the Comox Air Show, all veterans will receive a pass to the chalet.
“It’s an area where the veterans can feel special; feel pampered,” said Chester. “They will be able to sit in the shade if they like, have a light lunch and some refreshments. They can watch the entire show from there, or they can come and go as they please. It’s like a home base for them.
“The P.A. system will be piped into the chalet, so they will be able to hear the entire show as well.”
Special guests, such as air show performers, will drop by the chalet to visit with the veterans.
At the 2013 Comox Air Show, the veterans' chalet was a huge draw, with more than 400 attendees.
“Last time we had a couple of vets who hadn't seen each other in 50 years,” said Chester. “They met up in the tent and (reminisced).”
And the special treatment begins before they even arrive. Vets must have an air show ticket to get through the gates, but they get a big break on those as well - a reduced rate of just $5 per ticket.
“So for $10 they can get themselves and their significant other into the show,” said Chester. “And that significant other – spouse, caregiver, whatever – is entitled to come with them into the chalet.”
Tickets can be purchased online at comoxairshow.tickit.ca, on the base at Canex or at the Comox Air Force Museum, or at any Vancouver Island Thrifty Foods location.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is covering the cost of the chalet, and Thrifty Foods is supplying the food for the vets.
“Thrifty Foods are providing food for most of the other chalets as well,” said Chester. “They are a big sponsor this year and we are really grateful to them. We clearly could not do it without their support.”
“There are other sponsors (for the veterans’ chalet) that should be mentioned too,” said Jack Shapka, veterans' pavilion co-ordinator. “Like, for instance, Brian McLean (Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd.), Courtenay Mazda, the Legion and 888 Wing. So everybody has come together to finance this operation.”
Public transit encouraged
The gates for the 2015 Comox Air Show open at 9 a.m.
The show itself starts at 11 a.m. and runs until approximately 3:30 p.m.
Air show attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the free shuttle service available during the show.
The Comox Valley Regional District and BC Transit have teamed up to offer two ‘park and ride’ options.
One route begins at the exhibition grounds and has a stop at North Island College. Another route begins at Driftwood Mall in Courtenay, and makes a stop at Comox Mall.
Service starts at 8:30 a.m. until noon in 15-minute intervals (trip time approximately 25 minutes).
For pickup at the end of the show, all buses will be marshalled at the drop-off location, bringing people back to their point of origin along the same routes in reverse.
Return service begins at noon and runs until 7 p.m. in intervals of approximately 30 minutes with increased frequency after 3 p.m.
“HandyDART is providing service right to the gate, and that applies not only to veterans, but to everyone who uses their service,” said Chester.
Driving is an option, although organizers say drivers can expect to take up to two hours to get home afterward.
“There is only one route in and one route out for vehicles,” said Chester. “Driving in here is going to be difficult.”
All air show traffic is going to be routed towards the Glacier Greens Golf Course gate from the traffic circle. Coming up from Ryan Road, vehicles will be detoured at Anderton Rd. to Knight Rd. and straight out to Glacier Greens. Upon leaving the air show, all vehicles will be forced to head east on Knight, toward Point Holmes (turn left onto Knight from golf course road).
There will be special parking provided for veterans (displaying veteran plates on their vehicles), but organizers still recommend public transit.
“As they come to the roundabout, any vehicles with veterans plates will be directed straight through, if they want veterans parking... but we would really like them to take public transit,” said Chester. “As they get off public transit, we will meet them and assist them through security, if they need it. But even with the veterans parking, if they drive here, they have to anticipate it will take them an hour, or more, to get home.”