Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trails and airports

Including the airports at Villeneuve and Cooking Lake, Edmonton Airports operates four facilities. The Edmonton City Airport began its life as Blatchford field in 1927 with the arrival of two RAF fighter planes, and was named after Ken Blatchford, the Mayor of the time, in response partly to lobbying by the WWI flying ace turned bush pilot, Wop May.

Since the early days of flight, Edmonton has been considered the western gateway to the Far North. It also was the first to receive a federal license as an "Air Harbour." During World War II, it was of great strategic importance.

Photo below: A hangar built from the original blueprints used to build those at Blatchford Field can be seen at Fort Edmonton Park. CT August 2012

Today Edmonton City Centre Airport, or the Municipal Airport, is used for charters, training, corporate, private, medevac, industrial, and military flights. Meanwhile, the international airport at Leduc, Canada's largest in area, is expanding: in 2011 it unveiled a 25-year plan.

According to the EIA history, while the Edmonton International Airport was being built, security concerns involved more animals than people: beavers tried to flood the land, and livestock had to be kept off the runways.

The Municipal Airport, Canada's first, dates back to 1926. The newer facility opened in 1960, but more than half its land is still under cultivation, leased back to the original farmers until needed. EIA is located near Leduc, a few miles south along Highway 2, known as the Calgary Trail.

These trails that appear in the names of Edmonton's streets and Alberta's highways have long histories. Before it became a blacktopped highway, or even a wagon road, this route connected Fort Edmonton with the former North-West Mounted Police post, Fort Calgary.

Earlier still, the route was likely used by the aboriginal people who inhabited Alberta long before the idea of Canada was conceived.

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