Skies Magazine Special Report – A greater good, by Assistant Editor, Ben Forrest

The Fort McMurray fires seemed to bring out the best in Canada’s aviation community. Companies that normally compete with one another banded together for a larger purpose: Helping the city in a time of need.

Another view from the sky (comments by R1 Airlines’ Vice President of Operations, Lanny Benoit)

As day turned to dusk, Lanny Benoit could see the glow of red through the clouds and smoke. It was an intense, hot fire, unlike any he’d seen before.

“Just seeing the intensity, it was breathtaking,” he said.

Benoit saw the fires of Fort McMurray from the cockpit of a Bombardier CRJ200 he piloted for Calgary-based R1 Airlines, where he also serves as vice-president of operations.

R1 supported the Alberta government with medevac standby during the disaster and also moved people out of oil sands camps north of the city.

He could not say enough about how people got together during the tragedy. There were baby supplies and food for evacuees, food even for dogs and cats.

Airport personnel were helping with animals, making sure they were fed. Kids were playing and others were talking, “just letting these people have an ear.

“It made me re-evaluate and to see what’s important in life,” he said. “It was pretty touching.”

As far as competition, he acknowledged all companies are trying to be successful.

“These times, that stuff’s just put down and it’s, ‘How can we work together and what can we do?’”

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