The fly-in breakfast we had on the June 6th weekend was the third annual breakfast we’ve had on June 6th. We started having them to honour our veterans, as it is the anniversary date of D-day.
This year, as well, we wanted to honor Orm and Edie Middleton for their great contributions to local flying. They established the Skyview airport in 1957, in what was originally a peach field with, as Ormie says, “a great deal of help from their friends” (two years before Sarnia had an airport).
A Shell gas station, restaurant, and many hangars were soon added; the gas station is now gone but the restaurant is in full swing and is a regular hang-out for local weekend flyers.
Ormie was always around to greet and fuel up people’s aircraft, and was a fixture on either a little red Farm-all tractor or a John Deere Gator, always with his two dogs in tow (affectionately known by local flyers as the airport security).
The family pitched in as well, with running the restaurant or keeping their gravel business going. Orm learned to fly in Goderich and was one of the first few Canadian EAA members. He had a number of planes over the years which included a Champ with a peach painted on the tail (the prettiest plane according to Orm) and a Piper P11 (which was his favourite) that is still in the family and flown regularly by his son, Rolly.
This past January, the airport was sold to Henry Mehta ending 53 years of ownership and care by the Middleton family. However, Orm still lives in his home beside the field.
Henry has embraced his new acquisition, creating some great plans for the field and starting upgrades to the infrastructure. Plans include lengthening the runway, adding an East/West strip, more hangars, new fuelling facility and even possibly some aircraft camping spots. His definitely bucking the trend we see so often these days of closing airfields.
Besides continuing the tradition and doing great things for local flyers, Henry was also a great supporter of the club’s (COPA Flight 7) project of creating a garden and memorial stone to honour Orm and Edie. We wanted to let them know while they were still around that their great contributions to local flying wouldn’t be forgotten.
This year’s event was hindered slightly by the weather (never ending rain) but still went on with great success. The breakfast was held in the hangars and we had over 270 people attend.
Most of Orm and Edie’s children and grandchildren, along with many people from Indiana and Ohio who were members of the 70 Knotters group and who through the years (pre-border security) visited the field.
Pilots drove in from Guelph, Grand Bend, Kingsville, Chat - ham, etc. This says a lot about having pilots as friends. Also in attendance were many local veterans (Petrolia Legion members), their friends and local military vehicle collectors, who despite the rain, came out to support the event, driving their vehicles in the rain to reach it.
COPA Flight 7 held a draw for an ICOM radio and had Orm draw the winning ticket; it went to local flyer, field resident and long-time COPA member Zig Berzins.
Around noon, just before we finished, a gentleman flew in from London in his Murphy Rebel on amphib floats and made the event a legal “fly-in.“ The weather temporarily broke and the day was completed with members of Flight 7 performing a D-Day Memorial Formation Flight for the Petrolia Legion’s afternoon D-Day Service.
Many heartfelt thanks to all who came out supporting the event and to the veterans who because of their sacrifices long ago, made something like this possible.