The Passion Of One Or Two Will Get A Movement Going

Bob Kirkby


At a recent visit to COPA Flight 171 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, I met Herbert Arndt. We spoke for a few minutes then he pulled out his COPA membership card and showed it to me. I was amazed to see that he has been a member of COPA since 1952. That was the year COPA was founded!

Herb didn’t look old enough to be flying back in 1952, but he assured me he was. It was obvious that he was very proud to be such a long-time member of COPA. We owe a huge “thank you” to Herb and other pilots like him who have been members and supporters of COPA for many years. It is sustaining members like this that give us a good foundation to build on.

This encounter got me thinking about the early days and the formation of COPA. I wasn’t involved then. I only started flying and joined COPA 25 years ago and even that seems like a long time to me. But I’ve learned a lot about those early days since I’ve been on the Board and it occurred to me some members might be interested in the beginnings of this organization.

In April, 1952 Laurentian Air Services pilot John Bogie was having lunch in the Ottawa Flying Club lounge with Spartan Air Services pilot Bill Peppler and Paul Saunders when Ottawa pilot aircraft owner Margaret Carson came storming in and declared that something had to be done about the way small aircraft owners and operators were being mistreated by the government. One of the issues that sparked Carson’s comments was the application of highway tax on aviation gasoline.

That was enough to peak the interest of John Bogie and together he and Margaret Carson initiated meetings with other organizations and interested groups which eventually resulted in the formation of COPA.

Margaret Carson and John Bogie became the first Directors of COPA with Margaret being the Secretary/Treasure and John the first President. And the rest is history as they say.

As is often the case it’s the passion of one or two individuals that gets a movement started. But Margaret went on to serve COPA in a number of capacities for the next 30 years until she finally retired and moved to Florida. John continues to serve COPA to this day and attends many Board meetings as Honourary Director.

If you are at all interested in COPA’s history, I recommend that you read a series of 10 historical articles written by former COPA Flight Editor/Publisher Garth Wallace. They are all on the COPA website (www.copanational. org). From the front page just click on the “About COPA” menu in the upper left corner, then click on “History of COPA.”

This is a very interesting account of the people who built COPA and the many regulatory issues they tackled and won over the years to protect and promote our freedom to fly. You can read each article on-line or download one complete copy of the entire series from the website to read at your leisure.

Meanwhile, keep your prop spinning.