By Ken Beanlands
Al Botting taxis into the parking
area at the AJ Ranch Fly-in
Breakfast on July 18th.
Some of the over 200 aircraft
in attendance at the
COPA Convention in
Springbank last month.
What a great month for flying! Most of the month of July was absolutely beautiful in Alberta and afforded lots of opportunities to commit aviation.
The fine flying weather allowed a number of our members to make some extended trips. Oshkosh has been a popular destination for our club members and this summer was no different. Among others, Bob Kirkby and Bernie Kespe made the trek to Oshkosh this year.
Troy Branch made a couple of trips in the new RV-10, the longest being to New Brunswick with his wife Jody and two kids. I hear they had a great trip and that the kids are great travellers.
Stu Simpson, Al Botting, Brian Vasseur and Paul Vasseur flew up to Cold Lake on the 31st for the air show. Although this trip is only a couple of hundred miles, it ends up being an extended trip when flying a PA-17 Vagabond and an O-200 powered Bushmaster!
There were also a number of local flying events that were well attended by the club. Bob Kirkby held his annual fly-in at his strip just east of Calgary. Despite the brisk winds, they had a great turn out.
Of course, the highlight was the 2009 COPA Convention. The committee that ran the event did a splendid job. Everything ran very smoothly and the volunteer force, including many of our club members, was well managed.
On the Friday morning of the convention, Bernie Kespe, Stu Simpson and I made a trip over to Hanna and then back to Linden for lunch. Linden is a small town northeast of Calgary with a wonderful restaurant less than 100 feet from the runway. The first thing we noticed when arriving was that the power cables have finally been buried at the south end of the runway.
While we were there, we talked with one of the town officials and was informed that the town wanted to organize a free fly-in breakfast to celebrate the “grand opening” of the Linden Field! The town is quite proud of their airstrip and have always welcomed the local aviation community.
In the past, we have returned the favour by holding a Young Eagles day there. This is the kind of relationship I’d love to see at more municipal air strips.
After lunch at Linden, I drove to Springbank to man my shift at the event. I was amazed by the number of aircraft in attendance! There were well over 100 aircraft involved in the “Wings Over Canada Centennial Flight” including a number of exotic and classic aircraft like Glastars, Glassairs, Beavers, Norseman, etc.
To accommodate all the traffic, parking was made available between taxiway Charlie and 25/07 and between taxiway Alpha and 34/16. Springbank ATC relinquished control of Alpha south of Charlie to COPA to manage. Everything seemed to run quite smoothly.
Once my shift was over, it was on to the COPA Ho-Down event in the Calgary Flying Club hangar. This was the event hosted by our club and organized by Garrett Komm. In between the sets by the band, local aerobatic performers put on aerial displays over 16/34. The fourth and final display was a formation, night aerobatic display with pyrotechnics by Ken Fowler and Eric Hansen of Team Rocket. Spectacular!
The next morning, I was scheduled to volunteer at the Convention at 11 a.m. This meant that I had to be up very early if I wanted to make the AJ Ranch fly-in breakfast before that. As in previous years, this event was well attended by our club members. I was a little concerned that the COPA Convention would have an adverse affect on attendance this year. In fact, the opposite was true! It seemed that a number of convention attendees had heard about the fly-in and headed down there from Springbank. Despite the volume of traffic, everyone seemed to be doing a great job of following correct circuit procedures.
With a full belly, it was on to Springbank for my shift. I have to applaud the controllers on staff. They were very accommodating and polite to all the aircraft operating in the area. Given the number of pilots coming in that were not familiar with the procedures and landmarks, I know that this was well appreciated.
Unfortunately, the first week of August has been quite miserable with high winds, thunderstorms, hail, rain, drizzle, fog and temperatures in the low to mid teens. Several devastating storms ripped through the area with winds exceeding 60 knots, but the airfields seemed to come away unscathed with no reports of damage.
The weather has finally returned to more normal mid-August like conditions and with a number of events still planned for the next month, we look forward to more great flying in the coming weeks.