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Canada's oldest airfield officially closes
Chandra Lye, CTV Edmonton
Published Saturday, November 30, 2013 5:10PM MST
Last Updated Saturday, November 30, 2013 6:37PM MST
The lights on the runway of one of Canada’s oldest airports will turn off for the final time this weekend.
Edmonton’s City Centre Airport will officially close Saturday, just before midnight local time.
With over 80 years in its history, many are lamenting the loss, including the son of Wilfrid Reid “Wop” May, who helped start it all.
Wilfrid, who first became a Fighter Ace in WWI, ran his aviation company, May Airplanes Ltd. from the airport.
“He was one of the few people that actually survived being chased by the Red Baron,” Denny May said proudly.
Denny said his father also started up the Edmonton Flying Club, which has already left the airport land.
“It has really grown into what could have been a tremendous aerospace industry but all of that is gone now. That is really sad.
“The City is going to lose far more money than they ever think they are going to make on this property,” he added.
“The money that those aerospace companies put into the economy – the jobs, the taxes, everything else.”
Denny said his memories of the City Centre Airport go back to WWII.
“I was just a kid at that time but my dad would bring me out and we’d go up into the tower and watch the airplanes take off and land and do all sorts of exciting things.”
Later, when he became a pilot himself, Denny also flew out of the City Centre Airport.
According to the Edmonton International Airport website, the City Centre Airport was conceived in 1926.
In 1929, with a donation by City Council, it became Canada’s first license airfield.
It also acted as a Royal Canadian Air Force flight-training centre during the Second World War.
The airport was initially expected to be closed in 1963, after the Edmonton International Airport was developed.
However, with local opposition the closure was put off for years.
Its first runway closed in 2010 and City Council voted this September for the final closure.
With files from Amanda Anderson