Calgary: By wings and wheels

By Fred and Marilyn Bruinsma


Friday evening air show
delighted convention attendees
Look! No headsets.
Photos courtesy Bill Bulek

Lots of interesting aircraft to see.
View from the clubhouse.
Century of Flight command centre

COPA staffer Tanya Storing (right)
greets new arrivals.
Arriving at Springbank airport.

COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka
at the Saturday night banquet

Monday, July 13 arrived with sunshine and North West winds. Another long cross country trip with strong head winds to buck. That means more air time and more fuel to burn.

Adventuring on the trip from COPA 45 were Jim and Jane Farrell, Ann Rock and Chris McCullough, Fred and Marilyn Bruinsma. Joining them were Kim and Sylvia Murphy from Alliston, Adrian and Hortense Verberg from Welland.

Plans were to meet at Gore Bay Airport where once the aircraft were refueled; the troupe would eat our brown bagged lunches. Sure saves the hassle of getting a courtesy car or taxi to find a local restaurant.

Tanks and tummies filled, the five couples boarded their aircraft to start the second leg of the trip to Marathon. Another leg with strong 30 knots plus headwinds. After the planes were fuelled and tied down, friends, Ron and Sherri Dube greeted us with vehicles to the hotel and to their home for a pizza supper. Again they shuttled us back to the hotel for a good night sleep.

Tuesday greeted us with overcast skies. A check with the Flight Service for weather revealed another day of flying with severe headwinds. All agreed to stop at Atikocan for fuel before continuing onto Fort Francis. There we were grounded because of weather conditions.

Wednesday the weather did not improve and the weather channel and Flight Service were calling for rain, thunderstorms and low ceilings for the next two days. Time for some decision making among the group.

A phone call to Enterprise Car Rentals was in order. Due to a cancellation two vans were available. Calgary or bust was our mission. At 9 a.m. we left the Super 8 to begin our ‘journey on wheels’ instead of our planned ‘journey on wings.’

It was west of Winnipeg before we ran out of low ceilings and mist. Cool temperatures and sunshine was now our weather. Fuel stops, lunch and coffee breaks allowed the switching of drivers and navigators. With two laptops, three GPS’s, two SPOTS and CB radio in the lead car we were well equipped for the trip.

Later that night we tried to get hotel rooms but all were full. Our only choice was to drive non-stop to Calgary. We arrived at 6 a.m. to the Econo Lodge just at sunrise. Sleep was now in order.

Hours later and somewhat refreshed we took a shuttle to the Springbank Airport to register and see the 75 planes of the Canadian Centennial Cross Country arrive at the airport.

It was also great to see our aviation friends from all across Canada. At the Friday night dinner Ann Rock from Kincardine was the winner of a Sennhauser headset.

The highlight of the Convention was the dinner at the Calgary Stampeders convention room where 100 years of Canadian aviation was celebrated. The guest speaker gave an excellent talk on the achievements and blunders throughout our history.

Sunday brunch was served at the airport as the Centennial group flew out towards Brandon, Manitoba. Our group spent the rest of the day touring Banff and area with an overnight stay at Lethbridge.

Monday we spent the whole day travelling the flat prairies where we saw aerial spraying of peas and potato crops as well as huge irrigation units.

Supper and hotel at Portage la Prairie completed the day. Tuesday we were Ontario bound back to Fort Francis airport and the Super 8 before flying out the next day.

The weather was flyable by stopping in Geraldton and onto Wawa.

After refuelling, a thunderstorm was approaching so we tied the aircraft down for the night. En route to the hotel was a Tim Hortons, how fortunate! Another day in Wawa so we walked the main street. We soon were known everywhere as the group with the planes at the airport.

Friday we left for Gore Bay where we had lunch before heading our separate ways home.