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Canucks take flight

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Canucks enthusiasm is at an all-time high in Vancouver and there’s now a Canucks banner at an all-time high in Vancouver as proof.

NAV Canada’s air traffic control tower at the Vancouver International Airport unveiled a larger than life Canucks banner last week in support of the Canucks bringing home the Stanley Cup.

The banner, provided by the Canucks, is 56 feet long and 20 feet wide (roughly 1/4th the size of an NHL ice surface) and is strategically facing southeast so vehicles and Canada line passengers approaching the airport, as well as aircraft arriving to runway 26L, can see it from a long ways away.

It’s big, real big, and the significance behind it is quite big as well.

Back in 1994, which you may recall was the last time the Canucks battled for the Holy Grail, air traffic controllers Todd Radu and Mike Giovinazzo wanted to show their support for their team and off to the hardware store they went.

As the tale goes, Radu and Giovinazzo, who still work for NAV Canada, returned with a ginormous orange tarp and a few cans of black spray paint. An hour of craft time later and a GO CANUCKS GO banner was created, one that was hung off the side of the old air traffic control tower.

Although the tarp was a bit of an eyesore, it’s the thought that counts and the support was greatly appreciated.

Air traffic controller Bryson Katzel, who you might recall proposed to his fiancée Christine Waters over the intercom of a flight in 2006, was reminiscing about the 1994 Canucks a while ago when he recalled the orange tarp and decided it was time to revive the idea on the new tower.

The idea got to former Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths and he approached the Canucks about the banner. Clearly the team was on board and now those on board flights in and out of Vancouver can catch a glimpse of the support the Canucks are getting this playoffs.

It took eight NAV employees and a rigging company under an hour to get the banner in place and although it was taken down once already to be reinforced because of wind damage, the blue, white and green banner will now remain in place through the Stanley Cup Final and perhaps beyond.

“We’re going to keep it up until the Canucks win the Stanley Cup and then it’ll stay up after to celebrate it I’d think,” said Brent Bell, manager of Vancouver’s air traffic control tower.

“It looks fabulous, it goes great with the architecture of the tower, it looks like it fits right in, it looks like a big Canucks jersey up there. And it’s a real sense of pride to have that on the side of the tower, all the controllers get a good charge out of it and they get lots of feedback from everybody in the airport, everybody just really loves it.”

New tower, new banner and a new chance at glory for the Vancouver Canucks.

Click here to see a full gallery of the banner unveiling.

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