By Gord Mahaffy
Courage is not a word associated with a grassroots fly-in. But this year the annual Hawkes Field Fly-in fell on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, exactly one decade to the day after terrorists attacked the World Trade Centre in New York City.
At the time of the attack, there was fear in the aviation community that private flying would be curtailed to the point of extinction. But organizations such as the RAA and COPA worked in the background to keep the skies open and safe while members of the aviation community continued flying, building, training, and travelling in spite of what the terrorists were trying to do. This is the quiet kind of courage that always wins the day.
So, after several years of rain, wind and cold, the weather was beyond perfect. Aviators call it CAVU (ceiling and visibility unlimited). Once again the owner of Hawkes Field, Hanu Halminen, opened the airport to the RAA for their annual fly-in.
Virtually every type of light aircraft was represented. The lightest was a classic Lazair belonging to Ted Lieffers. It still sported two chain saw engines and has been flying for over 20 years.
A variety of homebuilts included an all wood Fly-Baby, a Davis-DA20, a Rans Coyote, a Thorp T-18, a Jennies Tiny and many more. The Owner’s maintenance class is a growing option for many and was well represented by an Aeronca Chief and several long wing Piper models.
True classics — an Aercoupe, a replica Great Lakes Trainer, a Harvard, a Chipmunk and a Tiger Moth were on hand too.
Free corn on the cob was available as members of the public got to mingle with pilots and owners.
It was good to see Ross Ferguson on site to consult with potential home builders. (Ross is a Ministers Designate Airworthiness Inspector and recently proved himself to be a pilot’s pilot after he forced-landed his 2/3 scale Spitfire in a very rough field after an engine failure and walked away from it).
Yes, this was probably one of the best grassroots fly-ins in the country and a sincere tribute to all the victims of 9/11. It proved that general aviation cannot be intimidated and will survive. The terrorists did not win.