With three hovering helicopters, Canada formally signed off its oldest airfield, the Edmonton City Centre Airport over the weekend.
In 2009, the 217-hectare Edmonton City Centre Airport was voted upon by the city council to be officially closed to give way to a housing community for 30,000 people. In 2010, the first of its two runways were shutdown.
"It really is the end of an era," the Edmonton Sun quoted Heather Hamilton, director of communications for Edmonton Airports.
"It's definitely a piece of my childhood. I remember coming out here to watch planes go by with my parents. So I'm definitely a little bit nostalgic, like I'm sure most Edmontonians are feeling today. It's a little bit of a sad day, but also a lot of good memories."
Dubbed the Blatchford Redevelopment project, construction has been set to commence early 2014. The new neighbourhood could be readily available for occupancy as early as 2016.
Two military jets from 409 Squadron out of 4 Wing Cold Lake were initially planned to make a flypast and touch-and-go-landing but was cancelled because of the weather. Instead, a handful of small private and commercial planes, including a Cessna and a Beechcraft King Air 200, were the last ones to have used and taken off the runway.
Much as many lamented the closure of the nearly 90-year-old airfield, people opted to brave out their emotions and sentimentalities to look forward.
"The closure of the airport represents the end of an era, but it also represents the exciting beginning of another," Coun Bev Esslinger said.
"This airport at one time had a big sign saying 'Gateway to the North'. Edmonton, [and] we at Blatchford Field, were the gateway to the north. Well, guess what? Today, we're gateway to nowhere. So it's a sad day," Randy Stiles, a retired pilot and a volunteer tour guide at the Alberta Aviation Museum, told Global News. "It's been a long run, times have to change and, like I said, maybe this is progress. The world is changing, airplanes are changing."
"We had a choice - we could have been miserable about it, but I don't believe in that," Tom Hinderks, Executive Director of the Alberta Aviation Museum, said. "It's time to move forward, it's time to celebrate everything that aviation has brought to Edmonton here at Blatchford Field and move ahead. We can't change what's happening, celebrate it."