By Fred and Marilyn Bruinsma
The weekend of July 21 and 22 promised sunshine, cloudy skies and no rain. To COPA Flight 45, that weather forecast was important to its Fly-in Weekend at the Goderich Airport.
Early Saturday morning Flight 45 members were busy setting up tables and barbecues. Even a refrigerator was moved to the pavilion for storing food. Then the meat, buns, salads and other condiments were organized.
Soon after, aircraft started arriving ready to enjoy the weekend activities. Once the planes were fuelled and tied down, COPA 45 Captains Wes and Fred gave each pilot a flight bag filled with a T-shirt, town brochures and other sundry items appreciated by the pilots. In total 60 gift bags were handed out during the weekend.
Hamburgs, hot dogs and homemade salads were served to the pilots, their families and friends who accompanied them for the weekend.
With full stomachs, the visitors took advantage of the Open House tour at Sky Harbour Aircraft. Here aircraft were in various stages of repainting the exteriors and refurbishing the interiors. The real high light for the pilots and their passengers was the Hawker Hurricane which was ready to fly out within the next few days.
There were many pictures taken and the oooh’s and aaah’s about the excellent quality of workmanship done by the staff and management of this world-renowned business of aircraft restoration. Thanks to Sandy Wellman and his staff for giving up their weekend to host tours for us.
The visitors also toured the Sky Harbour Gallery, which is located downstairs in the terminal. Here the beginning of Sky Harbour Airport is retold through pictures and articles. Also, the beginning of the homebuilding movement in Canadian aviation by Keith Hopkinson and Gus Chisholm and the celebrated 50th anniversary is displayed.
Afterwards COPA 45 members drove various groups into town to view the antique and classic car show displayed in Courthouse Square. At the same time, others could shop in the unique stores located around The Square. Some even purchased the last Harry Potter book. One teen completed reading his book before shutting out the lights that night. He sure was cagey when asked about the ending if Harry gets married or dies.
Some hiked or biked the Maitland Trail from the airport into town and others followed the trail eastward for 2.5 miles.
Late in the afternoon COPA members returned to town to pick up their passengers and bring them back to the airport for a pizza dinner and more "plane talk."
As the sun started to set, a colourful array of tents were being set up between the pavilion and the terminal. It was still windy as airports tend to be. One COPA member remarked, "This is not Oshkosh, there is lots of space."
Once set up with their lawn chairs, the campers walked to the end of the runway for some ice cream from Sky Ranch, completing a great day. Coffee and cold drinks were also available with bedtime snacks.
Sunday dawn broke with warm temperatures and blue skies. Some campers who were early risers started the coffee pots for their hosts. What a treat to arrive at the airport with coffee waiting for you. COPA members were busy getting breakfast ready. Pancakes had to be mixed, eggs scrambled, ham cooked, barbecues lit, and the food table set up.
Shortly the campers arrived to a delicious breakfast of ham, eggs, pancakes served with real maple syrup, coffee and tea. Again some visitors walked down the Maitland Trail and over the restored Menesetung Bridge.
As the morning went on several more aircraft arrived at Goderich to enjoy the breakfast and tours of the airport. A group flight of over 15 aircraft flew in from Toronto Buttonville Airport. At one time there were 47 aircraft parked on the field.
While spending time here in Goderich many took the opportunity to walk among the varied aircraft and admire the handiwork of the pilots who had built their own plans.
Soon the tents and luggage were packed in the aircraft and the guests were saying their goodbyes. Several expressed a wish for COPA 45 to hold this event next year. The Flight thinks this is a possibility.
One aircraft after another lined the ramp and taxiway to depart for a safe trip home.
Thank you to all. You made this first-time event a success. Thanks to our campers, fly-in pilots and crew and the local people who came to breakfast.
Thank you to the town who gave permission and its staff for serving fuel, etc. Thanks to all the COPA 45 members who planned and worked to make this a success.
P.S. An e-mail arrived that Sunday evening thanking us for our great hospitality over weekend.