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Last updateThu, 24 Nov 2022 3pm

Drumheller Municipal Airport attracts over 1,000 aircraft per year

Drumheller Municipal Airport

Drumheller Municipal Airport has undergone several improvements since 2021, and both local and visiting pilots are recognizing these efforts with positive feedback and reviews.

In April 2021, the Mail reported new airport managers Patrick and Catherine Bonneville were hoping to revive the facility, increase awareness, and make the airport known as a gateway to the community.
During the regular Monday, November 7 Drumheller council meeting, Ms. Bonneville shared the airport draws “over 1,000 visiting aircraft per year.”
Of these visits, over 70 per cent are returning visitors, and about half are for overnight stays. Additionally, about three in five aircraft purchase fuel and about one in six will visit the Town of Drumheller.
There have also been some aviation events, which have attracted not only members of the aviation community, but also members of the Drumheller and surrounding communities.
Alberta Aerobatics Club practiced over the municipal airport in July 2021 and Elevate Aviation, an Edmonton-based non-profit supporting awareness of and introducing women and youth to aviation career opportunities, held a fly-in event at the end of August 2021.
These events attracted upwards of 200 visiting aircraft, along with hundreds of spectators.
This increased awareness has also attracted some potential commercial business.
In May 2022, the Mail reported Jack Paquette with Air Pocket Adventures had considered using the Drumheller Municipal Airport as a flight training sub-base. Although this has not yet been realized, this is something which could become a reality-especially with recent paving and lighting improvements.
The airport was closed for a six-week period between June and July to allow for the runway and adjacent strips to be repaved. Drumheller council awarded the project in April 2022 to Border Paving Ltd. for a total of $1,314,442.38; the Alberta government is supporting 75 per cent of the project through the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program - Community Airport Program (STIP-CAP), with the Town responsible for the remaining 25 per cent portion.
At the time, the Town postponed awarding the lighting portion of the project due to costs over $200,000 over the approved budget. In May, Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski lobbied the provincial government for additional funding for multiple projects, including the airport lighting.
Shortly afterwards, a letter was received from Alberta Minister of Transportation Prasad Panda informing the Town it had been successful and additional funding was provided for the project.
The lighting project was awarded to Border Paving in October 2022 in the amount of $336,650.
Work to replace the aging lighting system with a modern LED system is currently underway and is expected to be finished by mid-January 2023. This will allow the airport to resume nighttime operations, which it has been unable to do for about four years.
Along with necessary rehabilitation of the runway and lighting, there have also been renovations to the airport terminal building. These renovations have included improving internet connectivity and providing meeting room spaces
Drumheller council approved a new schedule of fees for the airport at the November 7 meeting to help ensure the facility becomes self-sustaining in the future.


Fan of the Year hits the track

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There aren’t too many race fans at Dinosaur Downs bigger than Bailey Waters.
Bailey and her mother, Bonita Gilmar, have been in the valley since 2017.
Many may remember Bailey from her meeting with McKenna Grace, star of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when the production was filming in the valley when Bailey was 15. Her other passion is racing cars.
Gilmar tells the Mail she has been involved in racing for years and since Bailey was three, she has been at tracks all over Alberta.
Her passion for the track, the cars and the racers are unparalleled. Her favourite IMCA Modified driver is #56 Garth Dusanek.
She has an extensive collection of Hot-Wheels cars that she customizes.
Bailey, 18, is on the autistic spectrum and is often guarded, but at the race track, she can socialize, cheer and have fun.
Many of the drivers actually give her their trophies.
“The race track is a place where I can let Bailey be Bailey. Everybody knows her. I have no fear for safety,” said Gilmar.
“The race track is the first place in all the things we do that she can go and be Bailey.”
Now 18, Bailey had her first opportunity to get behind the wheel.
On September 24, at an event, several Ag Society members and track safety workers made it a reality. Bailey Barnes lent Bailey the #13 car, and she was able to make a few hot laps alone in the car.
After a couple of trips around the track, her speeds and lines improved.
“Ask her, and she’ll tell you she’s a racer now,” said Gilmar.
On November 5, Dinosaur Downs Speedway wrapped up its season with a banquet, and Bailey was awarded Fan of the Year for her time, effort, and support she has shown for the track and the drivers.

Rotary's unsung hero named

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On Monday, November 7 the Drumheller Rotary Club honoured Bill Eremko with the Unsung Hero Award. Eremko is a native to Drumheller who is conscientious and considerate and is a respected volunteer. This can include giving people rides to appointments or shopping, and picking up garbage. He has been an avid volunteer for the Legion, and has for years collected discarded bikes, delivering them to Cal’s Cycle in Linden where they are refurbished and sent overseas. Presenting the award are Rotarian Doug Stanford, left, and Rotary President Linda Fisher.


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