Flight 76 - Parksville Qualicum Aero Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 















 

 

 


Club History

Parksville-Qualicum Aero Club first came into being in the late 1950’s, when the five founding members got together at the Qualicum Beach Airport site way out in the bush near Qualicum Beach, BC, to throw around the idea of forming a club, putting up some money and leasing an airplane the members could fly. The airport at that time was just a pasture that had been donated in 1954 to the Town of Qualicum Beach by the local Rotary Club.

On April 17th, 1968 the Club was first incorporated; however, in spite of efforts by the Club to improve the airport, the Town Council of that day was vociferously opposed, and so the airport languished for several years.

The Club members eventually persuaded MacMillan Bloedel and a local contractor to grade the field. An application was made to Transport Canada for a license, which was granted in the early 70’s, and shortly thereafter, a local contractor was persuaded to pave the runway at cost. The money came from a couple of the more affluent Club members, and now all Club members were able to land on an asphalt runway, but that seemed to be it for CAT4.

In 1975, regular scheduled flights began, and the Club’s first student pilot soloed. In 1976, the Club purchased its first aircraft, a Cessna 172, and in May of 1977, construction began on the Club’s hangar at a site near where the present terminal building sits.

The hangar was completed in July just before the first Air Festival held at the airport on July 9, 1977. In September of that year, Council voted to allow the Club to expand its operations. The Club now owned four aircraft - a Cessna 172 (C-GHPQ), an Aero Commander 100 (C-GPSY), a Cessna 152 (C-GIDV) and a Grumman Yankee (C-GOST).

In 1978, Town Council was still debating airport improvement. A poll in 1979, saw 71% of the Town citizens support airport improvement, and in 1980, a new clubhouse was built adjacent to the hangar. Also in that year, C-GPSY was destroyed in a fire after an aborted take-off from Pt. Alberni - there were 4 on board, but no injuries.

August of 1981 saw the second Air Festival sponsored by the Club and the Club was granted permission to install and operate a fuel system at the airport. Local pilots could now put away their gas cans and fuel up right at their home field. 1981 also saw Council increase our lease rate by 400% from $100/yr to $500/yr. These were the pinnacle days for PQAC, with over 200 members, 4 aircraft, a growing flight school and fuel dispensing.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) formed a chapter in Qualicum and built a clubhouse on a lot where it now stands. The economic downturn in the early 80's saw hard times strike both clubs. Much of the Aero Club assets were lost and membership declined to only 12 members. Attrition among EAA chapter members was too much and they disbanded, donating their clubhouse to the Aero Club. In 1987, the Town of Qualicum Beach took over operation of the airport from Transport Canada. They also took over some of the former club facilities, including the fuel system. Aquila Airlines also folded at that time.

In 1986, planning was underway for Queen Elizabeth II to visit BC in 1987. A former lady-in-waiting to the Queen, with whom she had become great friends, now resided in Qualicum Beach. Her Royal Highness requested to visit Qualicum during her visit to BC, and guess what? Overnight, the runway was repaved 3,000’ long and 75” wide. Two taxiways were added and a main apron in front of a renovated terminal building. The Queen visited her friend and a more respectable Qualicum Beach Airport (CAT4) came into being.

In 1989, the runway was extended to 3,500’ and in 1990, trees were cleared on approaches and the gravel taxiways paved. In 1991, a new airport terminal building was built. To make room for the new terminal building, the club hangar was moved to the present location beside the inherited EAA clubhouse. Our present aircraft, C-GIEO was purchased in 1993.

Over the years, the Club and its members have played a pivotal role in development of the Qualicum Beach Airport and will continue in that role to ensure the airport remains the key asset for this community. We have also continued to promote aviation, both as recreation and a career for youth in the Oceanside area. We regularly organize and offer free flights for our youth.

The hardy bunch has persisted, and membership has grown over the years to its present level of over 60. We are now a vibrant, active, growing Club, with a rosy future. Our aircraft is in excellent visual and mechanical condition and our facilities have been rejuvenated with expansion of our clubhouse in our 5-year plan.

Please feel free to drop in at any time to visit us. You are always welcome!!