CAT4 – XQU — Qualicum Beach Airport
The Qualicum Beach Airport has a single asphalt runway, that is 1,086 metres (3,565 feet) long, 23 m (75 feet) wide, and with proper runoffs for aircraft that inadvertently travel beyond the end of the runway. The facility supports two flight training schools, and there are several charter services based at and available from the airport, including at least three helicopter services.
Many local aircraft (30+) regularly use the facilities of the airport to take advantage of the full fuel service (including both 100LL and Jet A), fully paved runways, and good parking availability for aircraft. It operates during daylight hours with both VFR (Visual Flight Rules) and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules).
It also provides APAPI (Abbreviated Precision Approach Path Indicator) which is helpful to pilots because it requires no onboard instrumentation. Instead the PAPI or APAPI systems rely on sets of four or two lamps, respectively, which are aimed or focused in such a way that if your approach angle is too high all lights appear to be white, and if you’re too low all appear to be red.
With the PAPI system the perfect approach on the glideslope is achieved when the two left lights are white and the two right lights are red. Under the APAPI system, with just the two lights, two reds mean too low, and two whites mean too high. One of each colour means “just right”.
The advantage is that this is a passive system requiring practically no maintenance except to change the bulbs every 1000 hours of operation. It is suitable for any aircraft with less than 10 feet between the pilot’s eyes and the lower part of the landing gear.
Qualicum Beach Airport can and does operate through the wintertime with limited winter runway maintenance provided by the operator. They also provide minor repairs.
The facilities are not extensive since it is a regional airport but they do have food at the Final Approach restaurant, and there are taxi, medical aid, accommodations, and car rentals within five nautical miles.
If you want to keep an eye on airport activity, there are web cameras to let you watch that happen. You can see from their two live webcams at any time but they are manually refreshed by refreshing the page itself rather than being a continuous live stream.
As always, we have a video. Just for a change of pace, this one is an ORCA AIRWAYS Piper 31-350 C-GPAP taking off from Qualicum Beach Airport. What a fantastically fast and efficient way to get around…
To add that extra layer of reality, don’t forget to check out the Flight Radar. If you’re a fan of Air Traffic Control you can watch the skies around Qualicum Airport here, though the amount of traffic is somewhat limited due to its size. Clicking on any plane will identify it for you, telling you where it’s coming from, where it’s going, and other relevant details and 10
There are no incidents reported in the Aviation Safety Net database.
Although there are no major airlines servicing the Qualicum Beach Airport, it is located in a pleasant area. It started out as donated land in 1954 from the local Rotary Club. It existed as just a plain field (no pun intended) up until the 1970s when the field was finally properly graded.
The local Parksville Qualicum Aero Club applied to Transport Canada for a licence, and then convinced a local contractor to pave the runway at cost. It finally started to have regular activity in 1975 and they held their first air festival in July of 1977. By 1980 the town council finally agreed that the airport was a going concern, and that it was due for an upgrade.
Sadly the economic downturn in that decade almost caused the complete failure of the airport. In 1986 however, Queen Elizabeth II decided she wanted to visit British Columbia in 1987. She also wanted to drop by and visit a former lady-in-waiting with whom she had become fast friends.
That friend lived in Qualicum Beach, and somehow, almost overnight, the entire runway was repaved to 3000 feet long and 75 feet wide. Two new taxiways were added a brand new apron was added in front of the renovated terminal building. Long live the Queen!
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