Flight tours Rockcliffe Flying Club Facilities

Adam Hunt


COPA Flight 8’s original plan for September was to meet at Rockcliffe Airport for a briefing about Savage Aircraft Canada and to look over its line of Czechbuilt light aircraft to be hosted by Savage president Alan Dares.

The planning for this started in April 2010, when Savage Aircraft Canada contacted Flight 8, keen to show off their new aircraft lineup. The date was set for September 22 and the location at Rockcliffe so that at least one of Savage Aircraft’s airplanes could be demonstrated to the Flight. Dares cancelled the meeting without explanation on September 15, just a week before it was to take place, leaving us without a subject for the meeting.

Fortunately the Rockcliffe Flying Club (RFC) stepped into the breach and offered to give a tour of their new facilities, including their newly installed Redbird full motion simulator. Since the flight was all set to gather at Rockcliffe anyway this became a quick meeting plan.

The club tour was conducted by RFC instructor Jean Rene de Cotret and started with a briefing in the new RFC lounge. The club has had a big change in facilities recently with its ancient and worn clubhouse and hangar torn down and replaced by a shiny new hangar and a clubhouse assembled from trailers.

As de Cotret explained, the plan is that the trailers will be temporary and that a new permanent and more stylish clubhouse will be built soon. Construction at Rockcliffe is always complicated by the relationship between the club, the city, the National Capital Commission and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, who operate the field facilities.

The Flight members were split into two groups with half the crowd starting with a tour of the new hangar and the other half checking the new simulator. The hangar is a beautiful new structure that is used for aircraft maintenance and is the new home of Sutton Aviation, the local aircraft maintainer. The hangar cost the club in the vicinity of $350,000 to build and features under floor radiant heating and remarkably bright lighting. It is clearly an improvement over the dingy structure that it replaces.

De Cotret talked about the new Redbird simulator, a club acquisition project he was intimately involved with. It started with the club identifying that its old Precision Flight Controls simulator needed replacing.

The initial intention was to buy a newer PFC five-screen static simulator until de Cotret did his instrument rating renewal at Cornwall Aviation in Cornwall, Ontario. There he flew their new Redbird full motion simulator and was struck by the capabilities that it offered for both IFR and VFR flight training.
After some investigation he discovered that the Redbird is competitively priced and offers good value.

The Redbird has some unique features, including plug in instrument panels, throttle quadrants and other components that allow it to be quickly configured to represent a wide variety of light aircraft, including twins.

This evening the simulator was set up as a Cessna 172, which is its most common configuration at RFC. Adding new aircraft types is as simple as purchasing the new plug-in panels.

The Redbird simulator weighs about 2,000 lbs and cost in the neighbourhood of $100,000, including $10,000 for transportation and installation. Redbird provides maintenance for the first year as part of the purchase.

The simulator operates on a single computer running Microsoft Flight Simulator and is approved by Transport Canada as a Level 2 flight training device. It can be used for IFR training, including instrument rating renewals as well as VFR training.

In the private pilot syllabus up to five hours can be counted, including three hours of IFR. The club rents it for $95 per hour, plus the cost of an instructor, as there are no solo rentals. The $95 cost compares to a rental rate of $115 for a club Cessna 150.

RFC had only had the Redbird for a month at the time of our visit and so they are still learning just what it can do for the club. So far it has been well received by club members and is a popular addition to the fleet.

COPA Flight 8 would like to thank Rockcliffe Flying Club and especially Jean Rene de Cotret for providing a great tour, on short notice, of their new equipment and facilities.