Fort McMurray International Airport is happy to offer a pre-security observation deck area for local residents to enjoy on their next trip to the airport.
This captivating space, located on the top floor of the main airport terminal, was designed to present a spectacular view of the runway and the airport campus. The area has been outfitted with videos, art, and historical artifacts to increase passengers’ travel experience. Three state-of-the-art interactive video screens take visitors through the history of aviation in Northern Alberta and let them discover more about the new airport terminal. The walls are adorned with two new art installations by Alberta artists Jane Ash Poitras and Amy Keller-Rempp. Three display cases hold fascinating historical aviation artifacts on loan from the Fort McMurray Historical Society, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Alberta Aviation Museum. Telescopes and interpretive reader rails turn the area into a destination for community members of all ages to learn about aviation in our region.
Sky Dance Series by Amy Keller-Rempp
These paintings depict several features of life in Fort McMurray, including the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), aviation, wildlife, and the Snye River, which has been a longstanding gateway to the community.
Landing on the Snye features a float plane landing on the quiet waters of the Snye River at dusk. The eagle, one of the largest birds capable of taking flight, is shown as the ruler of the skies. When combined with the Northern Lights, this image represents a magical, spiritual, and timeless symbol of aviation. For many years, float planes landing on the Snye River provided the main access to Fort McMurray.
Spirit of Wood Buffalo features two majestic wood buffalo standing within a northern boreal forest. An eagle soars overhead in front of a stylized depiction of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority logo merged within the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The wood buffalo, namesake of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, symbolizes abundance, strength, and stability. This piece is intended to evoke a sense of freedom and prosperity. These paintings were produced by combining metal grinding with automotive airbrushing on aluminum panels. The artist began by grinding the picture into the metal panel, then airbrushing, applying clear coating, sanding, and polishing the piece to transform the metal into a glass-like mural.
These pieces were commissioned by the Fort McMurray Airport Authority.
Utopia Series by Jane Ash Poitras
These two pieces, entitled Homeland Utopia and Northern Utopia, were described by Jane Ash Poitras as “a tribute to my indigenous peoples, especially my Mikisew Cree First Nation at Fort Chipewyan.”
These two works belong to the artist’s Utopia series: a series of large paintings expressing the euphoria she experienced while awaiting the birth of her first child. The artist’s work combines an awareness of contemporary trends in Western art with insight into aboriginal history and culture. The rich colors of the landscapes revealed in the work also reflect the intensity of the artist’s dream-like expectations of her child’s birth.
These pieces were generously gifted to the Fort McMurray Airport Authority by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
Aviation Heritage and Education
The Fort McMurray Airport Authority is pleased to pay homage to the rich history of aviation exploration and innovation in Northern Alberta. Historical features of the observation area include:
Wall of Fame
Many early Canadian aviation pioneers learned to fly in Europe during the First World War. Upon their return home, they displayed ingenuity and bravery as bush pilots flying into Northern Alberta. Bush pilots flew mail and supplies into remote northern outposts, and delivered urgently needed vaccines during diphtheria outbreaks. These ace fliers searched for other downed aircraft, often during blinding snowstorms. They also assisted police with rescue missions and manhunts by air.
Aviation pioneers with connections to Fort McMurray featured on this wall include:
- Charles “Cy” Becker
- A.M. “Matt” Berry
- Leigh Brintnell
- Clennell “Punch” Dickins
- Zebulon Lewis Leigh
- Wilfrid “Wop” May
- Grant McConachie
- Archibald “Archie” McMullen
Historical Aviation Artifacts
In cooperation with the Fort McMurray Historical Society, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Alberta Aviation Museum, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority is pleased to present a rotating exhibit of aviation-related heritage artifacts on loan from its partner museums.
Notable items include:
- Rifle case belonging to Wilfrid "Wop" May
- Wilfrid "Wop" May's wooden monkey that he hung in his plane when flying up north
- A pair of flying mitts worn by bush pilots to protect them from the elements
- Model of a Canadian Airways Limited Junkers Ju-52 1M (CF-ARM) aircraft
- An original 1928 Gypsy 1 engine
Three state-of-the-art interactive video screens take visitors through the history of aviation in Northern Alberta and let them discover more about the new airport terminal. Telescopes and interpretive reader rails turn the area into a destination for community members of all ages to learn about aviation in our region.