What's it like to land your plane on the frozen runway at the Lac La Biche Winter Fe — "Awesome!" Lac La Biche Flying Club president Oriana Kononcbuk said, barely waiting for the end of the question.
The local pilot of her own Cesna 172, and advocate with passion for all aircraft is still getting comments from what has now become the largest fly-in weekend in Canada.
More than 150 individual aircraft touched down on the ice-carved runway at the Febr. 22-23 Winter Festival of Speed weekend on the frozen surface of Lac la Biche Lake. The quality of the runway's preparation — a blading and grading job that stretched for 4,000 feet across the northerns Alberta lake — along with the creation of a parking pad for as many as 50 aircraft at a time, helipads for those who prefer rotors to wings, and a welcoming committee of volunteers, pilots and local aircraft enthusiasts didn't hurt either.
Visitors to the fly-in were also just a short distance from a variety of unique outdoor winter activities like the annual Western Canadian Ice Racing Championships, a snowmobile drag racing event that drew riders from across the Prairies, as well as displays by the Alberta Trappers' Association, and axe-throwing event, sleigh rides and a vintage snowmobile show.
From the moment the wheels touched down on the icy runway, pilots and their passengers who landed at the event had a good time, said Kononchuk, and they'll be back.
"The runway was in really good shape, (there's been) a lot of compliments from pilots," she said, adding that the record-breaking attendance of planes is something the local club wants to continue to grow in the coming years.
"We are the largest fly in in Canada."