By RENÉ J. ROY
STEPHENVILLE – Following the announcement that Dymond Group had purchased and re-branded the Stephenville Regional Airport as the Stephenville Dymond International Airport, a wide swath of rumours continue to circulate around the region and even well beyond, particularly on social media.
A recent string of posts on Twitter citing an unknown source alluded to involvement with U.N. secret flights, Chinese detainees undergoing forced vaccinations at secret holding camps, and even ties to the privately run paramilitary Blackwater group. The new owner of the airport, CEO Carl Dymond, does indeed have a background in the military, but that background is not at all what has been implied.
“We are trying to just ignore all of the conspiracy theorists that are out there spreading this around. I’m not doing anything military anymore. I’m completely out of the military, entirely. I’m not even on a supplemental reserve list anymore,” said Dymond via telephone interview on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
Another person who has been trying to avoid fanning the flames of the raging rumour mill is Lew Short, manager of the Stephenville airport. He also stated unequivocally that the statements and rumours that are continuing to swirl around are completely made up.
“These rumours are totally false. There is nothing of that nature taking place in Stephenville.”
Short recalls seeing an online clip of someone out west who posted accusations.
“He was posting this nonsense out there, that there were UN flights coming in here, and that there were islands off the coast of Stephenville, where they were putting people into camps. All this sort of nonsense. But none of that stuff is real.”
Short admits that there have been more flights than usual coming into the airport, which he is quite happy to see.
“What’s happened is, since the Dymond Group has made the announcement, we have had an increase of traffic here at Stephenville Airport. There was some construction work being done at Deer Lake Airport, and some of the traffic that normally would go into Deer Lake was diverted to Stephenville during the time the construction was taking place. So we were seeing some overnight aircraft coming in here, basically delivering cargo.”
Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose is unaware of any of rumours, and certainly not of any nefarious or underhanded dealings going on at the airport.
“We do have international tech stop business that flies in and out of the airport at night time, and primarily it’s tech stuff, stop for fuel and go, where they clear customs.”
Rose also explained why the airport is seeing more flights.
“”Since the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) lifted the restriction, there was a COVID restriction that only allowed two airports in Newfoundland to receive international flights. That was Gander and St. John’s. But over a month ago now, CBSA has lifted that. So we’re seeing more flights, and that’s a good thing for the airport. The sound of airplanes is the sound of money.”
Dymond points out that there are no military flights landing at the airport for one very good reason.
“Because we don’t have an air traffic control tower, we can’t accept any military flights,” explained Dymond. “They have to have an air traffic controller where there’s a person who’s actually visually able to identify the runway. But that’s why I ordered the air traffic control tower. So that we could accept military flights, because that’s a revenue generator.”
No doubt rumours about the airport sale will persist thanks to modern social media platforms. The best practice is simply to check multiple reputable news sources before sharing that link.