Our first time together in a small plane was in February of 2011 on our way to a small resort 15 minutes outside Yellowknife. By air was the only way to get to the resort which was surrounded by water with no roads leading in (you could potentially take a Ski-Doo when the lake was frozen but it would be extremely cold and a much longer trek). Before boarding the plane we were instructed to bundle up in our outdoor clothing, designed to protect us from -40° weather, the ominous implication being that it was the only way to stay alive should we crash and survive the impact. Once we were all buckled in the single propeller roared to life and the hum of the engine rattled off the metal innards. There’s nothing quite like being in a small plane with the cushions and textiles removed to remind you that flight is an incredible feat of human engineering, both impressive and unsettlingly mechanical. Clearly, however, we survived to tell the tale.
We were engaged in Yellowknife, so propeller planes and that trip bring back vivid memories. The planes at Brantford aren’t equipped with snow skis but we envision the pilots share a similar sense of adventure. This was in fact one of the reasons we named our daughter Amelia, after the famous Amelia Earhart, an adventurer and groundbreaker and indomitable spirit. We remember seeing a monument in Yellowknife dedicated to the brave pilots who “broke the Northern Silence” by flying in unbelievable icy conditions to deliver desperately needed food, passengers and medical supplies to northern communities. It always struck us how brave it was to fly North when one had no idea what they were flying into.
We are not sure what the Brantford airport’s reputation is amongst pilots, but among local parents it is a treasure. Little boys and girls love pointing out the planes in the sky, covering their ears when they come in, and imagining what it would be like to be a pilot and where they would go. Plus, the café serves chocolate chip pancakes. You can’t go wrong there with a girl known to call herself “Chocolate Chip Mimi”.
The Brantford Airport almost disappeared a few years ago but was saved by an investment from the city of Brantford. It’s currently undergoing renovations to make it more accessible, which will be great for strollers too. While we were there for a couple of hours, half a dozen kids came and went with their parents and grandparents, but there were plenty of adult air fans too. At one point a British fighter jet roared down the landing strip and the general conversation in the small café was about what a beauty a plane like that was, one you didn’t see every day. The plane in fact was there to pick up a bachelor whose groomsmen had bought him a $600 half hour ride in the jet. They watched him go up cheerfully from the outside deck and colourful Adirondack chairs, gripping mugs of coffee.
Although we haven’t yet been, there is also a free airshow slated for the end of August (donations benefit local children’s charities). You can also purchase tickets for dinner with the pilots, a $90 ticket for which you receive a charitable donation receipt. Perhaps a nice gift for the high fliers in your life?
At the airport, you can learn how to fly planes of your own. Mark fantasizes about doing it someday, but Cass is content to watch from the ground. Only time will tell whether Moo and Billie will prefer land or air. In the meantime there is hardly a more pleasant morning activity than to admire someone else’s wings from a bench in Brantford.