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Wings over Yk

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 01/05) - Yellowknife airspace will be at a premium this weekend as float planes from around the world gather for the bi-annual fly-in.

Kirby Marshall, chair of the float plane board, said this year's four-day event has been a year in the planning and at least 40 planes are expected.

"We're expecting about 100 people to come in on those planes," Marshall said of the Midnight Sun Float Plane Fly In event.

"They come in from across North America. And this year, we have a plane flying in from Africa to attend," Marshall said.

The event is held at the Wardair dock in Old Town.

This is the 10th year and the 6th biennial float plane event, he added.

The full roster of events means the fly-in is growing in size and popularity and is getting better every year, Marshall said.

"A lot of the pilots who come here are old-timers. They've been at it a long time.

Pioneered flying

"And many have pioneered flying in the North," he said.

The public will have the opportunity to hear about their experiences during a storytelling session at the Prince of Wales museum on Sunday afternoon.

This year the focus will be on aviation "old-timers," Marshall said.

"We tried to bring up as many as we could - people that don't fly anymore."

"That always adds a nice feel to the overall festivities of the weekend," he said.

The weekend kicks off with registration and a meet and greet wine and cheese reception. On Saturday, a free barbecue will be hosted by territorial MLAs, accompanied by a brass marching band.

Model airplanes will be on display and the public will be able to buy a ride in a DC-3 and participate in a poker rally, where space can be purchased on a Twin Otter plane which flies out to various lodges in the region and collect a poker hand.

A dinner on the dock Saturday evening will feature a live outdoor play.

On Sunday a public memorial service will be held at the bush pilot's monument at 11 a.m., followed by a fly over of the planes at 10 a.m.

Crowd draw

"It's always a great draw for the crowds. You don't see that very often any more," he said.

Sunday evening will see a hangar bash at Adlair Air with live performances, a silent auction and dinner beginning at 7 p.m.

Monday concludes with a Stars and Stripes dinner at Canadian Forces Northern Area to honour those who travelled from the U.S. for the occasion, Marshall said.

Planes are expected from Africa for the first time, as well as Manitoba, Ontario, B.C., Yukon, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Utah.