Fifty-one years ago, 24-year-old Barry Lapointe had $7,000 in his pocket and a dream.
Since starting Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. all those years ago, that dream has propelled him and his company forward. KF Aerospace is now the leading Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company in Canada.
Now, the aviation company is celebrating another milestone. On the anniversary of their 51st birthday (March 25), the company broke ground at the future site of the KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence.
“It is a special day … We’ve come a long ways from 1970. And now, as I look back, you know there are a thousand stories to be told in this airport and the Okanagan area. And the whole purpose of this centre of excellence was to bring that history forward,” said Lapointe at the groundbreaking.
The not-for-profit centre, which is expected to be completed by 2022, will serve as not only an exhibition space but also an airfield viewing gallery, cafeteria area and conference rooms, equipped to host public tours and educational programs.
Located beside Kelowna International Airport, off Airport Way, the centre will promote the legacy of aerospace in the Okanagan and the importance of the industry to the region.
What’s more, the inspiration for the design of the 17,222 square foot centre draws heavily from aeronautical wing design; it will be shaped like an airplane.
Kelowna mayor Colin Basran congratulated the company on the project.
“I want to… thank Barry for this incredible gift to our community. What an amazing investment for people like my son and others who are going to benefit greatly by this and be inspired by it,” said Basran.
Kelowna International Airport (YLW) director Sam Samaddar spoke of the long relationship between the airport and KF Aerospace. He says the centre for excellence will become a premier destination for the community and visitors.
“It will be the intersection for aviation enthusiasts, the celebration of aerospace in the Okanagan, and an iconic destination for conferences and conventions in supporting our tourism industry,” Samaddar said.
Echoing a phrase Lapointe once said years ago when they first met, Samaddar exclaimed, “God, I love aviation.”
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