The area we operate out of, Gimli Industrial Park Airport, has had a long history. The area began as World War II as an air station. After the war it continued to be highly used as a training area that included a jet aircraft training station and flying schools. In 1968 it became a Canadian Forces Bases and when that base closed in 1971, Interlake Aviation was born.
As it developed, Interlake Aviation was renamed Interlake International Flight Training Centre in 1990 as it began to take in more international and local students. The presence of a bustling town, the stable prairie weather, well-developed living facilities left behind by the Canadian military and a 6800-foot (2073-metre) runway made the airport one of the most suitable places to learn flying.
In 2010, Gerben Tigchelaar, a commercial airline pilot, retired but he could not keep his feet on the ground. Already an owner of a Private Stinson 108 and a Cessna 206 Stationair, which were parked in a hangar on the airport grounds, he decided to buy out the flight training centre and continue to ensure that Gimli’s great location and facilities do not go to waste and people like him, who love flying, can fulfil their dreams and earn their own wings too.
Together with the flight training centre, Gerben also set up a charter service and a fishing lodge up in Pine Dock and Bennett Lake. In 2013, as the company expanded, Gerben bought a larger plot on the airport grounds and Kenny, his brother, who was the General Manager and a builder by trade, built a new, and bigger, hangar for storage and maintenance, complete with a bigger reception area, a flight school with rooms for briefing, planning and a simulator, two offices upstairs, and a private recreation area. We now operate out of this hangar.
Fast forward to 2017, we are now in the midst of merging the three sister companies into one, and upgrading and rebranding the school under the new name of Lakeside Aviation for better operational efficiency and management. The name may be changing, but the love of flying and the desire to share the love remains.