Organizers were “overwhelmed” by the huge crowd that gathered on Saturday for the first day of the Alberta International Airshow.
Many spectators waited hours in north-westbound traffic from Edmonton to the event at Villeneuve Airport, formerly known as the Edmonton Airshow.
But the slow journey was worth it, according to people who came to the air show.
“Seeing a jet fly over… the sound, the roar, it’s not something you see every day,” said Steve Power. “So that’s pretty exciting.”
The air show was canceled in 2019 due to soggy conditions and again in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organizers expected the participation of about 15,000 people, based on the sale of tickets in advance. But attendance has climbed to more than 25,000, causing major traffic jams on the access roads.
“We were all overwhelmed, we were all surprised,” said Richard Skermer, President and CEO of the Alberta International Airshow.
“There were the parking lot hiccups today, but it was literally the people who decided in the morning, ‘Let’s go see the air show.'”
Rain in Sunday’s forecast for the second day of the air show and “pent-up demand” for events and activities were likely factors in the unexpected turnout, he added.
For those who were able to enter, there was much to see, including civilian and military aerial performers. Highlights included the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team, the RCAF CF-18 Demonstration Team and the USN EA-18G Growler Demonstration Team.
The Alberta International Airshow runs Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.