A surprise visit



RAA Member Beat Meyer is thrilled
to see Delta Air Park founders
Darmel and Corrie Diston at the
monthly Pancake Breakfast.
Photo courtesy Roland Boisvert


In Vancouver, Eileen and Tim Cole
enjoy some ‘roasting’ on Tim’s
retirement from Transport Canada.
Photo courtesy Tony Swain

Real ‘Bush Flying’ Goose at Sandspit,
1978. Photo courtesy Tony Swain



The forlorn derelict DC-3,
CF-PWH at Terrace, 1978.
Photo courtesy Tony Swain


CF-PWH today, resplendent, by the
Langley Flying Club, with her tiny
companion, The Flying Flea!
Photo courtesy Don Souter

Tom Rogers and his T-33 during
taxi trials at Trenton.
Photo courtesy Rick Dion



Mr. Fix-it, 2003 COPA Award winner
Rick Dion AME, works his magic on
Tom Roger’s T-33 at
CAF Mountainview.
Photo courtesy Rick Dion


The Old COPA Guys prove ‘Love is in
the Air’ at Delta Heritage Air Park!
Photo courtesy Joan Cox

Why Bessy is ‘The Fish Lady!’
The Mary picks a Salmon for her
Royal Seafoods at Vancouver’s
Fish Wharf in the mid 1960’s!
Photo courtesy
Mary Swain’s collection

Click pictures to view larger images

Everyone at Delta’s February Pancake Breakfast were delighted by a couple of ‘Very Important Person’ surprise visitors.

Air Park founders, Darmel and Corrie Diston have moved back to Langley to be near family, so their son Ray brought them to see the old farm, and it was just a-humming!

Long time tenants from ‘the old days’ crowded around to wish them well, and the lovely couple were just thrilled.

It was wonderful to point them out to more recent tenants and say, "There’s the two who started this magic place." Fantastic!

We hope to see more of them. They’re a grand couple.



Was a merry old soul at his retirement party last month held in the Landmark Boardroom at YVR’s Shell Centre.

The poster announcing the event featured a huge flying pig that commemorated Tim’s many years as a TC Enforcement PooBah (that’s the official line), but actually it honours his status as Boss Hog of the NSSPA (Not So Secret Pigasus Association) here-abouts and it’s numerous variants. Members have trouble remembering the exact name. It’s a security bafflegab thing.

Over 100 people attended to eat the grub, and hurl roasted barbs at the old Hog. However, the gathering stayed reasonably respectful under the steely eye of impressibly attired M/C Chris Cox, and the serene gaze of Head Hog’s wife, Eileen.

Nevertheless, people said lots of things, pro and cons, even folk from the great head office in the sky, Ottawa.

Suitable gifts were bestowed, a very heavy solid iron flying pig, a beautiful oil painting of his beloved Twin Otter FCSU over English Bay by Victoria Heryet. And other useful stuff.

He ended 34 years of flying FCSU by ferrying ‘him’ to Ottawa in early February, via Medicine Hat, Regina, Winnipeg and Sault St Marie. A bittersweet 13-hour flight. And so, the Cole moves on!



In 1978, Mary and I flew to Terrace to visit brother John, who lived in a fancy log cabin on Lake Else, and supplied his logging camp via a Super Cub on floats. Way to go!

At Smithers, a real bush flyer, Trans Provincial Airways bright yellow Grumman Goose bustled in and out. We were enchanted. Here was the romance many yearn for, and at Terrace, was an Auster, the very first trainer type we flew at East Yorkshire’s Speeton Field in 1951, when I was only 16!

We explored a derelict Douglas DC-3, a type I worked on for the Air Force - and what a sad sight. Though nothing actually appeared wrong with it, but what do I know?

We subsequently learned that in 1940 it was with American Airlines and named ‘Flagship Texas’ and then did Air/Sea Rescue in WW 2, ending up at Queen Charlotte Airlines as CF-HCF. Later, then with PWA as CF-PWH, and finally at Terrace, Trans Provincial Airways stripped it and pushed it into the bush, where we found it.

It was rescued in 1987 by ‘Friends of the DC-3 - North America’ barged to the B.C. Transport Museum in Cloverdale, and eventually donated to the Canadian Museum of Flight at Langley.

Now on display at the Langley Flying Club beside it’s little companion, the Pou de Ciel, and is well cared for by the Club, the MOF, and Langley Flight School. Today, CF-PWH is the oldest surviving DC-3 in Canada. Go take a look.



It’s been a while since I’ve thrilled to the whistle of a T-Bird, but another little bird told me that one’s coming to town! May even be here already! My old RCAF friend Dave Wick of Calgary says he flew ‘em for 12 years and never tired of it. Said the iconic RR Nene 10 engine was magnificent and gave little trouble.

Seems that local Warbird Pilot Tom Rogers has acquired one from the CAF at Mountainview (Trenton), and hopes to ferry it out when the weather relents back east. Guiding the paperwork through the proper shoals and channels is COPA Award winner Rick Dion, the Gimli Glider guy, and he assures me the old T-33 is A-OK.

The official grey CAF paint scheme is a mite sombre for my tastes, and we original T-Birders would love to see it nicely polished up, with red wing tips and all. Sigh, what a sight!



It’s tradition to hold the NWCAS meet at Richmond’s Marriott Hotel. Here Air Show people gather to rehash events of the last season and ponder possible changes for this year. It’s a round table process, and everyone’s input receives equal consideration. Present are Show Bosses, volunteers, performers, sponsors, the Militaries, Transport Canada, and the FAA.

It’s a privilege to attend this most knowledgeable forum. A ‘once upon a time’ show guy, I’ve not much to say these days. But my quirky safety movie about miss-fuelling, ‘Rough Runner!’ got mixed reviews. But it was lunch break, when most scrambled for coffee. Sigh.

NWCAS President for 2008 is Show Pilot Bud Granley of the Seattle Area, Vice President is Ray Firkus of Chilliwack, and Daffydd Hermann of Abbotsford is Secretary, 1-604-866-8359 or email: dfhermann@telus.net.



It’s traumatic when the local newspaper accuses you of ‘Love in the Air’ right on the front page, with pictures and all! Phew! You’re confronted everywhere, grinning from every news vending box. You are three-day wonders till the new issue comes out.

The nice young reporter, Kristine Thiessen, arrived from the South Delta Leader, with photographer Tyler Garnham in tow.

Delta volunteer Jean Prior sent them to me for a story on ‘aerobatics.’ Not easy when you no longer have a magical demo plane, and explaining acro stuff adequately to non-pilots is difficult. I tell them it’s like having your own roller coaster!

So we fed them breakfast, gave the standard ‘Tour de Delta,’ and showed off our Bessy ‘baby’ pictures in the Old Coffee Shop’s scrapbooks. They were enthralled with everything, but after the pancake enthusiasts left, it was a rather quiet day. I couldn’t imagine how they’d pull a story out of that. How wrong I was.

On the Friday a terrific good news story appeared in their paper, admirably showing the human face of our hobby. Brilliant! Not that I’m biased, with us on the front page and all.

"Why" she asked "did you name your plane ‘Fish Lady’?" and "Who is Bessy?" It’s a semantic question. Brit chaps tend to call their workhorses, bikes, and cars, as ‘Bessy.’ It’s a show of affection and loyalty. Similarly, Mary’s folks had a family milk cow, ‘Bossy’ which could be stubborn. Same idea.

‘Fish Lady’ referred to Mary’s Royal Seafoods store in classy Park Royal Mall, which sponsored some of the air show expenses, much as Castrol sponsors race cars. It’s a logical thing.

Everyone is so grateful for the positive Air Park story. Thank you so much Kristine and Tyler! Wouldn’t it be nice if more local papers followed suit across the country. Sigh!

So I guess that’s all… Fly Safe now!

Tony Swain, an Old COPA Guy.