Wednesday Flights Provide Local Entertainment
Submitted by Christine Whelan
Photo provided by Susan Taylor
JUNE 10, 2021 VOL. 2 ISSUE 21
Greater Fort Erie area minds have inquired. They wonder why, on social media for example, the “two planes were flying over Crystal Beach all afternoon” one Wednesday.
Another resident shared, “I hear him. That’s how I know what day it is.”
The weekly sightings have been called, “local entertainment”.
But Fort Erie minds want to know, what’s the deal with the planes in the skies overhead every Wednesday?
I contacted Terry Anger, who has worked for Alfred Beam Excavating Ltd. in Fort Erie for 25 years. I caught his comment on Facebook stating he’s “lucky enough to work there”. It’s Terry’s boss, Alf Beam, who is in the center of the Wednesday air show.
“It’s just a group of guys who have planes instead of boats or cars or motorcycles.” Anger began.
The airport is registered but is private. Its understandable that Beam doesn’t want people to just show up.
However, the pilot, as private as he is, is no loner. “He used to do a fly in the third Wednesday of every month during the summer. It would be nothing to have 50-60 planes and helicopters land in there. They’d get a BBQ going. The money raised by the BBQ would go to a group of guys who used to work at Fleet and stored old Fleet planes, towards whatever project they were working on. The fly ins just got too big and too much, and then with the pandemic, it all had to stop.”
Two of the planes are Alfred’s. Terry explained, “There’s a 1940 Harvard. It’s a military plane. That’s why its painted bright yellow. In Canada, all the trainer planes are painted bright yellow. In the States, the Harvard is called the Texan.”
And for anyone who has seen a plane that fits this description further west, in the past, “That plane used to fly out of Dunnville. It was used to train pilots at the Dunnville Airport.”
And the navy-blue plane is the 1957 T-28. “When the blue plane is up, Alfie’s flying the blue plane. That’s his baby. That’s his pride and joy. A friend of his from of Fonthill, Dr. Martin, flies the yellow plane. He has a stunt flying background so you may see more happening with the yellow plane.”
For a third plane, “Another T-28 comes down from the Brampton area. He flies with Alf sometimes. Its a tan colour. It’s dressed up in army colours where the blue one has the Navy colours.”
Terry explained, Alf spends a lot of time with war veterans. He has a lot of respect for them. “On Remembrance Day, they get together and fly over the local cenotaphs. They set it up with the Legions and they do a fly over at the moment of silence. A fly by salute.”
During off season, “They go down to Florida every winter for formation flying lessons. There’s a whole squadron of T-28s down there training.”
And what is the purpose? “For fun. They treat it like school. They have their class. They hold a pre-flight meeting and always critique after the flying, talk about what they did, what they could do better. They have put a lot of time into it.”
As I write this, its Wednesday. And I keep hearing a plane flying overhead, from out my window. I can’t help but be distracted and think maybe, it might be one of the planes. And I look. I think I looked six times. But my windows face east and nothing came in vision. So far, for me, these planes have been elusive.
One day, I will catch a sight of them in person for myself.