I am writing this month’s column shortly after returning from Lac La Biche in northern Alberta. I was there to visit COPA Flight 165 and give them an update on COPA and Personal Aviation activities. As the meeting commenced I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a $500 cheque for the Freedom To Fly Fund.
Normally I know in advance of a pending donation but Flight Captain Ken Zachkewich decided to surprise me. Flight 165 is not a big group so it is especially generous of them. Following a highly interactive presentation we all adjourned to BPs for a few beers and more lively discussion.
Visiting COPA Flights in my region is one of the activities I have enjoyed most about serving on the COPA Board. One of the reasons is that I believe strongly in the great positive value of our COPA Flights in contributing to our mission “… to protect Personal Aviation and promote it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian community.”
In the old days (read pre-90s) COPA was able to deal with most of the challenges facing aviation from its head office in Ottawa. When Canadian Aeronautics really was controlled by Transport Canada, or DOT as it was called then, working with the regulator and the responsible Minister was usually all that was needed to keep a lid on issues that affected Personal Aviation. But things have changed.
Today so much has been divested by Transport Canada that responsibilities are now spread across the country and placed in the hands of many jurisdictions as well as many different agencies and organizations.
We now have COPA Flights spread across Canada and every one is needed to help COPA bring advocacy to the local level where most of our new challenges originate. While COPA can provide tools and establish national precedents on legal issues, only the many dedicated members of COPA Flights, working with our regional directors, can bring the fight to the front lines.
Whether its airport problems, airspace issues, taxes, wind farms, unmanned air vehicle operations, obstructions, or air navigation system concerns, our COPA Flights act as early warning detectors and first responders.
I encourage members to look for a COPA Flight in your area and consider joining for the camaraderie, flying adventures, educational value and, if for no other reason, to provide support for the cause.
If there is no COPA Flight in your area consider forming one. It’s not difficult and your regional director will be happy to provide some guidance along with the Guide to COPA Flights available on our website.
I was speaking with a member just today who wants to start a COPA Flight in his town. (Check out the new interactive COPA Flights google map at: http://www.copanational.org/Flights.cfm ) So with that it is time for me to bid thee adieu. This is my last column as Chair of the COPA Board. I hope you have gotten something out of my monthly ramblings.
My term is up at the AGM in June and I must say it has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to seeing you at future fly-ins and AGMs.
Meanwhile, keep your prop spinning.