By Gord Mahaffy
COPA member Charlie Buller owns a pristine Aeronca Champ and on the weekend of March 12, he celebrated his 93rd birthday.
To help him with the celebrations, many of Charlie’s COPA Flight 70 friends dropped in. The weather that day was typical March, cold and overcast with a 1,900 foot ceiling.
But Charlie has friends that take flying seriously and have the equipment to prove it.
Three planes actually flew in and touched down on the still frozen but slushy surface of Lake Scugog.
Jimmy Griffin sports a homebuilt Super Cub mounted on huge tundra tires. Watching him land or take off on a frozen lake gives a whole new meaning to the word “levitation.”
Norm Hoskin had the most unique of the three aircraft attending. It too is a homebuilt Super Cub mounted on straight skis. But instead of an instrument panel it has a sloping console much like a helicopter. The flaps and ailerons are made of composite material as was much of the cockpit liner and paneling. With 180 horsepower, the two inches of slush on the lake posed no threat and on departure he was off in less than100 feet.
Wayne Jeffery had the most luxurious aircraft present. This was a fully customized PA-12 Supercruiser. This aircraft has been rebuilt twice in less than 10 years. In 2007 it suffered severe damage when a microburst tore through the area. Since then it has been rebuilt into a serious bushplane.
It sports a 160-hp engine and flaps have been added to the wing to make it fly more like a PA-18. And like the Super Cub it has a tandem layout, but unlike the Super Cub the back seat is wide enough to accommodate two adult size passengers. The plane is mounted on hydraulic wheel skis, so Wayne can return to a warm dry hangar at the end of the day.
Charlie was happy to see three airplanes actually fly-in to his 93rd birthday, but he also welcomed many more who drove in.
When asked the secret of his long life, Charlie replied, “Having lots of COPA friends, owning an aircraft, and having lots of time in your log book.”