Airshow announcing became a secondary career for Bob Singleton, who was a professional broadcaster for 38 years.
He has also been the voice of the Abbotsford Airshow for the past 44 years.
Upon retiring from the broadcast industry, Singleton began travelling across Canada and the United States to inform and entertain aviation fans. He found that while attending airshows elsewhere in the country, he “meets people all the time who know about the success of the Abbotsford Airshow in particular.”
“It has given Abbotsford an identity over the years that it wouldn’t have had otherwise,” he said.
When Singleton was first hired as an announcer for the Abbotsford Airshow in 1969, he had never been in an airplane. He has now earned his private flying licence, and in 1996 the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds made him an honorary member.
Singleton said he enjoys announcing at airshows because it is “different and unique in the sense that you have to virtually describe everything from aerobatic acts to the various aircraft manoeuvres, as well as know the history of the plane, where it came from, what it did, and of course the people flying them.”
Now that the Abbotsford Airshow is celebrating its 50-year anniversary, Singleton said the crowd is “quite knowledgeable” on the events and acts.
“Someone once described it to me perfectly, that without announcers at an airshow all you would have is a lot of airplanes flying around,” explained Singleton.
“However the announcing changes for the crowd in Abbotsford, since most people have been attending the show for several years now, they can handle a little bit more depth and detail.”
The Abbotsford Airshow has produced 50 years of aviation entertainment, and according to Singleton, its survival is “remarkable in its own way, considering there have been a lot of changes.”
He believes that the success comes from the “dedication of hundreds of volunteers,” many of whom take their annual holidays to come and help out.
Singleton said there is “no doubt that the airshow is an economic driver for the community,” but once the planes have landed and visitors have returned home, it really is about the “community where it all began and bringing those people together.”