By Frank Artés
"What a great day" was how this year’s Father’s Day Fly-in was described by Terry Clifton, COPA Flight 53 Captain, as the last of the visiting aircraft headed back to its home base in Kingston. And it really was a fabulous day with a total of 56 aircraft flying in to Picton airport from as far away as Ottawa, Grimsby, and Syracuse, NY. Of course not all the aircraft came from such a distance, one of the closest visitors, a Pegasus Trike, took a 5-minute flip from a private strip just outside of Picton, and proved a very popular attraction. The owners, Jeff and Jackie Douglas, who had their flexwing microlight shipped over from the manufacturer in the UK, had nothing but praise for the COPA organization, which had been a tremendous help to them when they were planning to erect a hangar on their airfield, by offering all sorts of advice and assistance with the paperwork involved.
Hosted by the Prince Edward Flying Club, this particular event has been an annual get-together for the three flying clubs that make up Flight 53, Oak Hills Flying Club, Belleville Flying Club, and PEFC. This year’s fly-in attracted a nice selection of aircraft from a Piper Apache twin to a gaggle of RV-6s, both tricycle and taildragger versions, to Titan and Challenger ultralights. In addition, there were Pipers, Aeroncas, and Cessnas, which included two beautiful examples of the 2007 Skylane, and a very elegant Glastar on floats. One of the more interesting aircraft to arrive was an Aeroprakt A-24 Viking, the only one of its kind currently flying in North America.
The A-24 is a multi-purpose, three-place amphibian, designed using various aerospace construction techniques and materials with a composite hull and metal/fabric wing structures and coverings. Powered by a Rotax 912S and with sliding doors on both sides of the fuselage, which interestingly enough can be opened in flight, it’s a very attractive aircraft. Designed and built in the Ukraine at the company’s headquarters in Kiev, the A-24 is the brain-child of Yuri Yakolev, one of the former Soviet Union’s chief military aircraft designers. I spoke to the aircraft’s owner, Larry Wood, who keeps his A-24 at the Grimsby Air Park, and is extremely impressed with his aircraft. "It was a quick-build project that took approximately 400hrs to complete. Most of the larger components come already assembled, such as the fuselage which arrives in one piece," he explained. "It’s a very rugged aircraft too, with wonderful structural integrity and excellent rough water handling."
I checked the manufacturer’s operational specifications and they are pretty impressive with a take-off run of less than 500ft, a climb out at 800ft per minute, and a 430 nm range.
Some of the geographically closer participants flew in from Tyendinaga/Mohawk. These included a lovely Cub in traditional Piper yellow, and a standard Ercoupe (no rudder pedals) which belonged to newest PEFC members Gerry and Bev Muma, who said the 12-minute flight into Picton is one of the most picturesque in the area. Many of the COPA Flight 53 members had their aircraft out on the ramp and were kept busy chatting to visiting pilots about their aircraft. Kevin Hickling with his striking red and white Pitts S1, spent a lot of time explaining some of the aerobatic maneuvers he enjoys doing with his aircraft, and Sharon Rieger, with her Titan Tornado II which she says is just a joy to fly, explained some of the finer points of an aircraft that combines friendly low speed handling characteristics with agility and high performance.
The Prince Edward Flying Club members had done a tremendous job in preparing over 300 breakfasts for the pilots, guests and friends who were visiting one of the last virtually intact BCATP bases left in Canada, Picton (formerly RAF Station Picton). For more information on the Prince Edward Flying Club visit www.peflyingclub.net