Vancouver-based Ukrainian pilot dedicates Lethbridge performance to Ukrainian troops
After a four year hiatus, the Lethbridge International Airshow is taking off this weekend. With 30 planes set to be featured, one Ukrainian pilot is using her performance to pay tribute to those fighting Russians in the war-torn country.
“As an airshow performer, I’m dedicating my 2022 airshow season to supporting Ukraine,” said Anna Serbinenko, a performer in this year’s airshow.
Serbinenko has been a pilot for the past 14 years. Originally from Ukraine, she now lives in Vancouver where she’s a flight instructor. Serbinenko is dedicating her 2022 performances to Ukraine after four of her family members died fighting the Russian invasion of their country.
“The news about the war in Ukraine is not just news online for me, I have family there and my family has been personally affected by the war in difficult ways, including the deaths in the family,” Serbinenko said.
Serbinenko said her family members were killed during the early stage of the war. She said her first instinct was to give up her performing skills to become a fighter pilot, but said that wasn’t an option.
She now hopes by performing across the country, she can continue to share her message that more needs to be done to end the war.
“It feels very special to be a messenger for Ukraine, for the flights I can do and for people I get to talk to,” she said. “Supporting the fundraisers for Ukraine, humanitarian causes and the efforts of the Ukrainian army to fight for our freedom is near and dear to my heart.”
Dallas Harty, President of the Lethbridge International Airshow, said he’s thrilled to have Serbinenko be a part of the show.
“It’s quite an honour to have Anna here,” he said. “We’ve invited Anna to be a part of a couple ceremonies around here and she’ll be a part of our opening ceremony.”
Serbinenko won’t be the only one taking to the skies this weekend. Harty said eight aerial performers will be performing, with another 25 set to be on static display around the tarmac. With Canadian Army resources tied up, Harty said this year’s show will feature a more community-driven display.
“We would have a big military presence but because of the shortage of assets right now we’ve put together an amazing display of unique civilian-owned aircrafts and probably a gathering of civilian aircraft that southern Alberta hasn’t seen in a lot of years,” Harty told CTV News in an interview on Friday.
With the postponement of the airshow for the past few years, Harty says the demand from both the aviation community and southern Alberta to bring the airshow back has been high.
“We’ve had some huge crowds in past years and if ticket sales are any indication, were expecting anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 people per day,” Harty said.
Manfred Radius is taking part in his seventh air show in Lethbridge. Radius will be putting on a performance in his sail plane, with help from the Central Alberta Gliding Club.
He said it takes skills and practice to be able to perform the tricks and maneuvers that they do.
“It’s a job, I have to concentrate on my job,” he said. “I have to make sure I stay right in front of the spectator area, we have an aerial box that we have to perform inside and we’re not allowed outside of it. I have to concentrate on having the right entry speed for each maneuver.
“So, it’s work,” he said. “It’s not as playful as it may look from the spectator’s point of view.”
Radius said one of the challenges with flying in Lethbridge is the altitude.
The Lethbridge International Airshow will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Hatsy says gates will open at 10 a.m., with performances getting underway at 1 p.m.
A wide range of entertainment, monster truck rides and food trucks will also be set up around the grounds.
Lethbridge County will be closing Township Road 8-2A between Range Road 21-4 and 21-5 throughout the weekend.
Tickets can be purchased online https://lethbridgeairshow.com/ or at any Gas King locations.