Around 50 pilots landed at the Muskoka Airport in Gravenhurst for the first stop of the 14th annual Interprovincial Air Tour.
They will be spending the night in the area before taking off Friday morning and going to Trois Rivieres, Que. for two nights.
Lee Arsenault and his partner Marilyn Staig have organized the event since 2017. He explains it was started by a couple in North Bay in 2006. Arsenault says it’s a way to promote municipal airports and how they are economic drivers.
The itinerary will see the pilots taking a school bus into Gravenhurst to spend the day shopping with a boat cruise planned for the afternoon. Arsenault says they will leave for Gatineau, Que. Friday morning and spend a few hours there before travelling to their final destination in Trois Rivieres.
Arsenault says the majority of the pilots are from Ontario, a few are from Quebec, and two pilots are from Indiana and Michigan in the United States.
“It’s a big social event meeting up with all our aviation friends,” he says. “It’s a once-a-year event.”
Len O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer for the Muskoka Airport, says it’s a thrill to see all the planes coming in. “I don’t think I’ve seen this many in the last four years,” he jokes.
He points out that the tour stopped in Muskoka back in 2012. Since he started with the airport in 2019, he’s been pushing for the tour to return.
Before the pilots left to explore town, District Chair Jeff Lehman thanked them all for visiting the area. He was presented with a plaque thanking him and the airport staff for their hospitality. O’Connor says it will go next to the plaque they received in 2012.
“We sell gas so it’s never a bad thing to have a whole bunch of thirsty airplanes at our airport,” jokes Lehman.
He adds having the pilots land in Muskoka is great and hopes they enjoy the area and visit again.