By Barry Martin
Clear skies greeted us at the Greenfield fly-in
Once again this summer, COPA Flight 57 in Charlottetown and COPA Flight 125 in Summerside hosted a few Fly-in barbeques. I’ll fill you in on the ones held in the Charlottetown area.
The organizers of the July fly-in at Greenfield International grass strip near Montague hit it right. The day was beautiful with clear skies, light wind and a temperature of around 25 degrees.
Attendees included two helicopters, a Schweitzer 300 C and a Robinson R22. There were also various certified and homebuilts from PEI and the mainland. Jeff and Marlene, along with the girls and brother Harrison had the barbeque just roaring - pumping out delicious hamburgers and hot dogs.
Some of the neighbours joined in to see the aircraft and enjoy the fine cuisine. This is a great way to introduce neighbours to the sport of flying.
There is an old saying on PEI that if you don’t like the weather that you see out of your window, then go to the other side of the house. In August, PEI was like that. Looking out of the front of the hanger might show beautiful blue skies while the back of the hanger might show heavy rain. This weather played havoc with the scheduled August fly-in’s in the Charlottetown area but we were able to get them in – kinda.
The first event in August, at the Cable Head Airpark, went off without a hitch that is until the last plane was downwind. Then the rain and low ceiling moved in. This didn’t deter the barbeque since we just moved into Jimbo and Jean’s hangar.
All was well until it was time to go home. Three of the planes were able to get back into Charlottetown under Special VFR, the last one just seconds before the airspace was closed. The rest of the planes couldn’t get home until the following Friday.
The next weekend was scheduled for the Brookfield grass strip, located just seven miles west of the Charlottetown. One aircraft succeeded in getting in before the weather closed in. I had to turn back while still taxing out.
Roy, from Summerside flew along the south side of the Island but couldn’t get close as the weather was moving in from the north. The rest of the planes just stayed home.
My turning back was fortunate for a couple of pilots from Ontario who had just landed. They were part of an air tour that was planning on stopping in Charlottetown on their way from Sydney to the Magdalen Islands, having heard of Sterling’s barbeque skills and lemon pie.
The planes in Sydney were fogged in until mid afternoon so they couldn’t get to Charlottetown. Anyway, the two guys who made it to Charlottetown had to stop in Saint John the night before and couldn’t get to Sydney so they came direct to CYYG. They joined us as we drove out to the fly-in barbeque.
When we got there, we were not the only ones who flew out in their cars. The field was full of cars with everyone still in them as it was raining heavy. Over the next hour, the rain slowed just long enough to allow everyone to get a hot dog or a hamburger. On our long seven mile drive back to the Charlottetown airport, we had to turn the windshield wipers on fast twice as we went from heavy rain to no rain.
At the Charlottetown airport, the sky overhead and to the south was clear all afternoon. Traffic landing on runway 03 could do it under severe VFR conditions while those landing on 21 had to come in IFR.
Jim, who had just made it back from Oshkosh the week before in his Cherokee had to leave it at Brookfield because of the heavy rain and low ceiling. Unlike the guys from the week before who had to leave their planes at Cable Head until Friday, Jim was able to get his home the next day. That extra 20 miles to Cable Head sure made a difference.
Sterling decided to try again the next weekend. The weather had cleared for the afternoon but very windy. Never the less, there were twice as many planes able to make it this time. The food was just as good as the previous week, although there were comments as to where Sterling’s famous lemon pies were (Sterling is of New Glasgow Lobster Supper fame).
August finished off with a Comanche fly-in and great weather but that will come in a later article. Stay tuned.