Bits And Pieces Returns Home For A Visit

Fred Bruinsma


On Friday, Oct. 22, the weather blessed us with fair skies and sunshine. Finally, the return of Gus Chisholm’s Corben Baby Ace could make its long awaited trip to Goderich’s Sky Harbour Airport. The aircraft is Canada’s longest flying registered homebuilt aircraft.

For 10 days rain and winds had prevented the single seater, open cockpit plane from flying back to its birthplace from Guelph, its current home.

Dressed for the cool weather, pilot Brian Harrington left Guelph at 12:30 p.m. with headwinds en route to Goderich. Shortly after 13:00 hours the blue and white Baby Ace was circling over the Goderich Airport and getting ready to land. Cameras were a-clicking.

What a sight when Bits and Pieces touched down on runway 28 and taxied to centre front airside of the terminal. Memories for Gus returned as he saw his Baby Ace, wheel pants on, painted back to its original design.A tear or two ran down some cheeks as the propeller stopped turning.

Some took the advantage of looking inside the cockpit to see just what a homebuilt aircraft of 50 years entailed. More photos in front of the little bird and then the group went inside the terminal for more celebrations.

Captain Fred Bruinsma of COPA 45 introduced the various guests to the group gathered there. Then pilot Brian Harrington told his story about flying Bits and Pieces to Oshkosh this year. He presented Gus with the prop card from Oshkosh and the 2010 pilot’s mug for flying into the World’s great aviation event.He also gave Gus a T-shirt with the Corben Baby Ace on it and a restored red1954 Mercury truck. Gus replied that these were sure keepers.

Formerly of Goderich, Transport Canada’s Wayne Juniper gave Gus a copy of his flight authority to fly off the required 75 hours. It cost Gus five dollars.

But Wayne reminded Gus that he was less than cooperative to pay the other five dollars for his Certificate of Airworthiness.Gus finally anted up the money to get the certificate.

Wayne gave Gus a frame with original pictures, a picture at Oshkosh 2010, a five dollar bill, and a historical note that EAA Canada’s e-newsletter, Bits and Pieces, is named from the Baby Ace and the home of homebuilt aircraft in Canada right here at Sky Harbour Airport, Goderich.

Introduced by Captain Fred, Huron County’s Warden Bert Dykstra congratulated Gus. He mentioned that this is a great piece of our heritage in Huron County and we can celebrate it today here at this airport. Dave Sykes from the Goderich Signal Star added his best wishes as well.

Gus was given the floor to respond.He said he built the plane on $15 a month. His wife, Jean, said it would never fly and wondered why I was building the darn thing.

“It was a lot of fun but a hardship too as there was no money.But I got it built and Hoppy (Keith Hopkinson) his best friend and pilot encouraged me.We had many good flights together but after Hoppy died it was no fun anymore.”

Gus expressed his gratitude to the pilot. “This really means a lot to me Brian. Thanks for bringing her back.”

Now was the time to reminisce with Gus, Brian and others over cake and coffee.

He said a crazy idea hatched 55 years ago from a set of plans in a Mechanix Illustrated magazine.Night after night in his basement, bit by bit and piece by piece, three years later he was able to fly it. Hoppy did the test flight for him.

With full fuel Brian headed back to Guelph earlier than planned because of weather.What a great day for aviation history in Goderich. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon to celebrate flying with food and fun.

Gus may you continue to remember your flying days that span five decades. You truly have inspired many who have followed in your footsteps of building and flying their own aircraft.