BC AERO Founder Shaun Heaps Honoured

At the BC Aviation Council’s annual Silver Wings awards gala held on Oct. 20, Heaps was awarded the Robert S. Day trophy awarded to those who make “an outstanding contribution to aviation/aerospace in the province”.

When an ‘atmospheric river’ caused record flooding in southwestern British Columbia in the fall of 2021, Langley resident Shaun Heaps immediately came to the rescue by organizing General Aviation planes and pilots to rescue stranded residents and motorists and deliver essential supplies to communities isolated by washed-out roads and highways, from Hope to Princeton to Merritt. (The story was covered in the Jan-Feb issue of Canadian Aviator.) From that effort, the seed was planted for the founding of a civil disaster organization that utilizes general aviation aircraft, typically privately owned. Named the British Columbia Airlift Emergency Response Operations (BC AERO), Heaps organized training sessions and trial runs to Bellingham airport (KBLI) and Point Roberts (1RL), both in Washington state. (This story was covered in the Sep-Oct issue of Canadian Aviator.)

The citation on the plaque Heaps receives is, “For demonstrating to the people of British Columbia the value of community airports and General Aviation during natural disasters.” Heaps said it was a team effort with a dedicated group of volunteers. “This is totally unexpected and I’m extremely honoured,” Heaps told Canadian Aviator. “But I was just a small part of it. There were many others involved.”