A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

August 2010        

Arlington, 2010

         It had been five years since I could arrange a trip to the Arlington airshow, but it came together this July.  Seasonal flying jobs were one reason for missing the show but the slow economy has cut down on the need for pilots this year, so with this forced retirement came the opportunity for me to do other things.   As it turned out, Dennis and Lynda Seib planned to drive down from Kamloops in their new motorhome, and offered a seat and a bed if I could make it.  I wouldn’t turn down something like that, and was very grateful for the opportunity. 

          So it was that we got away early on the Friday morning, and following a long wait at the border, and an equally long battle with the Bellingham-area traffic, we got to the Arlington airport late that afternoon.  On arrival, we found a truck and camper parked half-way into the camp spot Lynda had reserved, and there wasn’t room for the 30-foot motorhome.   The inconsiderate owner was nowhere to be found, so Lynda simply backed up to his door, and we shut down right there.  A good start to a friendly weekend. 

           Our initial reconnaissance of the airport and attractions was a bit disappointing in my opinion.  After a five-year absence from Arlington, it was quickly apparent that what we read about general aviation in general, is true.  Things are on the decline.  Fewer pilots are being trained, fewer hours are being flown, government regulations are having their affect causing higher costs and greater restrictions on where and how we fly.  There’s more than just higher fuel prices to blame for the slide in G.A.  Even down at the south end of the field where the ultralights gather, there was so very little activity, we could only hope things would pick up on Saturday.  Unfortunately, they didn’t.  The early morning flying that was always the wake-up call at the campground didn’t really happen this year.  Just a few planes flew in the circuit in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

            Exhibitors were scarce.  There wasn’t much exciting presented for showing.   Several of the newer LSA designs were on hand for inspection, but for the most part, that section of the field was pretty empty.  Many itinerant aircraft did show up, as pilots with their families continue to fly in and camp under their wings.  And the airshow was exciting each afternoon.  We didn’t see too many helicopters, and no gyrocopters this year. 

             To anyone who has been to Arlington on an annual basis, this may not seem a fair assessment.  You have to remember I’ve missed the past five shows, so if there’s been a gradual decline in attractions, the regular attendees wouldn’t notice the big drop that I saw over that period of time.  But make no mistake, it’s different now than back in 2004/05, just as general aviation is when compared through the same time frame. 

             The weekend wasn’t by any means a loss or write-off.  Other members we see around Knutsford were camped there as well, and the social part of Arlington was up to par.  Dick Suttie, Gerald Gibbons and Dan Berwin showed up, as did Larry Williams from Vernon and John McDermott from Salmon Arm.  One activity I can recommend if you go next year the downtown Arlington street fair.  That is one thing that’s probably bigger and better than ever.  We had a very enjoyable afternoon snooping around and came back to the campground loaded with plenty of free giveaways. 

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