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The National Awards Committee of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association (RCAFA), on behalf of its over 6,000 national members, has awarded the J.A.D. McCurdy Trophy, in recognition of outstanding and praiseworthy achievement by a Canadian in the field of civil aviation, to Richard Skermer, president and CEO of RWE Events and producer of the Edmonton Airshow.
In 2015, Skermer made a three-year commitment to produce a show each year. At that time, it would have been 17 years since an airshow graced the capital region’s skies. The new venue would be the under-utilized Villeneuve Airport. Growing to become the second largest ticketed air show in Canada in 2017, the fourth show in 2018 was nearly cancelled due to forest fire smoke and regrettably the fifth show in 2019 was cancelled due to exceedingly wet weather and wet ground conditions. A potential show for 2020 is dependent on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“This national recognition is a testament to RWE Events’ high-quality airshow product in Alberta’s capital region with the right airport, airspace, demographics, and investment climate to support and grow Canada’s aerospace industry. I welcome new sponsors and exhibitors to help make future editions of the show a premier economic development attraction and tourism event in Alberta,” said Skermer.
The sky really is the limit for airshow entertainment. Skermer is always trying to make the show fresh and holds ongoing discussions to bring unique and innovative acts and entertainment products to Edmonton. Skermer is also keenly aware of the aerospace industry’s past struggles with the global pilot and mechanic shortage, both civilian and military, and plans to provide the community with potential employment opportunities at the air show by incorporating a career fair.
The RCAFA is a national aerospace and community service organization established to:
- Commemorate the noble achievements of the men and women who have served as members of Canada’s air forces since its inception;
- Advocate for a proficient and well-equipped air force; and,
- Support the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program.
In Edmonton, the association is represented by 700 (City of Edmonton) Wing. The association has enlisted the assistance of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) to help identify appropriate candidates for this award and recommendations are also welcome from members of the Association.
The J.A.D. McCurdy Trophy was created by the RCAFA in 1994 to recognize outstanding and praiseworthy achievement by a Canadian in the field of civil aviation. Any Canadian citizen, group, unit or organization engaged in the various fields of civilian aviation or its support is eligible to be considered for this award. The Association has enlisted the assistance of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) to help identify appropriate candidates for this award.
The trophy is named for John Alexander Douglas McCurdy (August 2, 1886 – June 25, 1961), a Canadian aviation pioneer and the 20th lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1947 to 1952. In 1907, he joined Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association. On Feb. 23, 1909, McCurdy became the first British subject to fly an aircraft in the British Empire when he piloted the Aerial Experiment Association’s Silver Dart off the ice of Bras d’Or Lake in Nova Scotia. In 1910, McCurdy was the first Canadian to be issued a pilot’s license and the following year, he made the first flight from Florida to Cuba. For the next few years, he continued to set aviation records in Canada and North America, until 1916, when vision problems grounded him.
Last year the trophy was awarded to Top Aces of Montreal, owners of the largest worldwide footprint of privately-held operational fighter aircraft that provide advanced adversary, air-defence and joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training services around the globe.