I love flying WestJet for many reasons, not the least of which being able to see Calgary artist Jeff deBoer’s two giant art works, “When aviation was young” in the WestJet boarding lounge. I love watching kids and their parents using the giant key to wind up these retro ‘50s tin toys on steroids, which then starts the giant toy planes twirling around and around. This usually results in smiles on the faces of both the kids and adults, and even some dancing around the art.
For years I thought the pieces were just fun and decorative, creating a bit of a midway-like distraction for families with their bright colours and cartoon-like graphics. It was only recently when I took a closer look, that I discovered they are full of fun factoids.
I love it when art is fun and informative at the same time.
Calgary’s Aviation History
Did you know that Clennel “Punch” Dickins, back in 1928, piloted the first prairie airmail circuit from Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg in a Fokker Super Universal aircraft?
Or that in 1956 the City of Calgary named its new airport McCall Field after Fred McCall a World War I flying ace and barnstormer who pioneered a mountain air route linking Calgary, Banff, Fernie and Golden?
Bet you didn’t know Tom Blakely and Frank H. Ellis, were Calgary’s early aeroplane builders. In 1913, they purchased the remains of a Curtiss-Type biplane, rebuilt it, named it Westwind and used a field west of Calgary as their take off and landing strip. That field is now Shouldice Park.
And what about the story of how two deHavilland Twin Otters, flown by Kenn Borek Air of Calgary made history in 2001 by being the first aircraft to land at the South Pole in the middle of winter?
So, next time you are waiting for your in the Calgary International Airport, walk around and explore, you never know what you will learn – there is lots of art to discover!
Anchorage Airport Art Gallery
A few years back, we jumped at the chance to do a house exchange with friends who lived in Anchorage. One of the more memorable experiences of that trip was the fabulous art at its airport. We are not talking about a mural here and a piece of sculpture there. Someone had clearly realized airports make great art gallery spaces. Kudos to them!
The Anchorage Airport art collection is extensive - murals, light shows, stained glass works, folk art, historic First Nations art, contemporary art, fabric pieces, masks and paintings. Many of the smaller pieces are organized in display cases like you would see in a museum or art gallery.
In fact, when we were returning home, I made sure we got to the airport really early to give us as lots of time to explore the art. When was the last time you really wanted to get to the airport early?
I understand Jeff deBoer is working on two new pieces for the Calgary International Airport. I hope they are as playful and pensive as these two. It will be a tough act to follow.
The Calgary International Airport is already full of art and artifacts and I expect there will be even more with the opening of the new International Terminal. It would be great if the airport had an app, map and/or online site that would allow visitors to know the locations of the art, who the artists are and some background information on each piece. It could make for a fun treasure hunt for families and art lovers and provide a welcome diversion when facing a long wait.
Come on Calgary, if Anchorage can do so can we!
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