By Dennis Schooonbaert
Any type of aircraft can participate in the Tour including this beautiful Waco seen on Shoal Lake in 2008.
The Manitoba Homecoming 2010 Aviation Tour was officially announced at the Fall Fly-in breakfast in Shoal Lake on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009 on the occasion of COPA Chapter 162 receiving its Flight charter from Manitoba COPA Director Jerry Roehr.
The tour is part of the year-long Manitoba homecoming 2010 celebration marking 14 decades of Manitoba history and will help promote tourism in Manitoba and its many communities.
Pilots and passengers will be encouraged to see Manitoba from the air which will highlight the importance of aviation and airports through Manitoba's history, at present and in the future.
The organizing group is the five Manitoba COPA Flights; Manitoba Homecoming 2010 and COPA National - more partners are welcome.
Here's how it works. Any type of aircraft from hot air balloons to jets can participate on whatever schedule and at whatever level suits the pilot. The tour starts on Jan. 1, 2010, although the official kickoff will be on May 12 in Neepawa as part of Manitoba Day celebrations, and it will conclude with a Final Tour Celebration in the fall of 2010, date and location to be determined.
Prior registration is required. A fee of $25 has been suggested. The registration package will contain a Tour Passport along with several other Tour specific items; the Passport will be used for documentation.
The Tour will consist of a number of 'visits', most likely to an airport, but it could be a private strip, a lake for a floatplane, a field for a hot air balloon. Each visit must include a landing and a takeoff and will be documented by a date/time stamped digital photo showing an identifying characteristic of the aircraft and the place visited.
Each visit also requires a date/time stamped digital photo, either ground or aerial, of a tourist attraction in that area - Manitoba Tourism has a wealth of information.
To complete the Tour (completion is optional, participation is what is being encouraged) three criteria must be met. A minimum of 14 visits must occur, five of these must be at the home sites of the Manitoba COPA Flights – Flight 162 in Shoal Lake, Flight 138 in Russell, Flight 145 in Morden, Flight 35 in Winnipeg, and Flight 103 in Lac du Bonnet, and at least one visit must be in each of the eight Manitoba Tourism regions (the five COPA Flights are all in different regions).
Passports will be used to determine completion with recognition of completion and prizes of a non-competitive nature awarded (youngest pilot, passenger who made the most visits, shortest time to meet the completion criteria, ...) at the Final Tour Celebration.
Communities and airports across Manitoba will be encouraged to actively participate.
Airports could have incentives for visits like fuel discounts, communities could encourage visits by providing transportation for pilots and having information about the community readily available at the airport, Chapters/Flying Clubs could put on fly-in events that coincide with community attractions - there are unlimited possibilities. Winter events are encouraged, historically flying continued all winter even without modern multi-grade oils, fitted winter covers, effective heaters, and much better weather information.
A runway ploughed on the ice would allow aerial participation in an ice fishing derby, a snowmobile derby could include aircraft participation with some creative thinking, a downhill ski day or ski weekend could be planned ... there are many ways aviators could participate in winter activities as part of the tour.
Pilots are encouraged to share the tour with passengers and with each other. One suggestion that has been very popular is a group tour of the North accompanied by an experienced pilot.
Each of our regions has events and attractions that could be shared in a similar way with other pilots. Pilot groups (COPA Flights, EAA groups, ...) from neighbouring provinces could be invited to participate. The tour provides a great opportunity for us to encourage fellow pilots who are inactive to rekindle the love of flight that initially brought them to this great activity.
A pre-planned group visit to an airport where activity has dwindled might be just the thing to revitalize an airport and re-energize a flying community. Pilots could organize a COPA for Kids day (or EAA Young Eagles) that includes a flight that is part of the tour. Just think of the political capital we could accumulate if every mayor, reeve, MLA, and MP participated in at least one flight during the tour!
What if we all, pilots and passengers alike, donated a loonie or a twoonie at every visit to a charity, either one chosen for the whole tour or one of our own choosing.
Tour organizers hope to provide online opportunities for tour participants to share their adventures whether through a blog, SPOT adventures, or some other avenue.
This project was inspired by the Cross Canada Flight, a once in a lifetime opportunity for those who participated that really captured the nation's attention. While assisting with the Flight arrival in Brandon, Manitoba, the idea of an aviation event to celebrate Manitoba's 2010 Homecoming came to COPA Flight 162 Captain Dennis Schoonbaert. He shared the idea with Flight 145 member Ron Loewen who was also at Brandon and the idea took off from there.
The tour, however, is designed to require minimal organization by planners and to provide maximum flexibility for a maximum number of participants. For further information watch the Chapter 162 website: www.slflyingclub.com, and the Manitoba Homecoming 2010 website: www.manitobahomecoming2010.com.
If you have specific questions email Dennis Schoonbaert at firstname.lastname@example.org.