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Since Old Bessy left for pastures new, The Mary and I find it intimidating to attend air shows these days, because for the past 30 odd years we either flew in direct to VIP row, or flashed a blue badge at a traffic cop on the freeway exit, when a casual mention of a pilot briefing in ten minutes resulted in a most satisfying siren enhanced, light flashing, high speed motorcycle escort by all the sweltering ordinary folk in a humungous line-up.
Sigh! The good old days. Pull that now without a current passport and get promptly added to Government’s ‘No Drive list.’
We are, after all, over 65 and balked at 20 hours dual before driving our new/old his and hers Mazda Protégés, as was demanded for hull coverage when a most generous friend offered us nice C-172 to fly. Double sigh.
THE GREAT BOUNDARY BAY SHOW
So, when the Great 3rd Annual Boundary Bay Air Show came up, highly recommended by no less than Delta Mayor Lois E. Jackson, Delta Council, Alpha Aviation, and friends, we figured as ex Air Show Know-it-alls, we should attend. Problem was, as ab-initio ordinary persons, we had no ‘getting in’ skills, which made it nerve wracking.
What if when stuck in line, our new/old Mazda boiled? Could I actually follow the secret arm waving system parking marshals use for putting cars in rows on grass? Would they stop us at the gate as suspicious old codgers? Just because I limp, and The Mary has a coughing fit when asked for I.D. We’re both stone deaf in the same ear anyway. Some officious folk get shirty.
But no worries! Simply waving my codger stick got a nice grassy spot a mere half mile from the gate. Having misjudged the Saturday driving time from Kitsilano, we were a bit late, and still puffing about re-parking so The Mary could open her door, when Big Jerry roared by low level in his Beech 18, hotly pursued by The Mekon in his Yak 18, and a Nancheng. Sheesh! By time I’d limped back for my magic camera, they’d all landed.
As we negotiated entry at the gate, the Eurocopter was cracking about. We got a program and were thrilled at getting in for free! What great perks for being old folks? And, as it turned out, everyone else as well. Even attractive young women struck up conversations "Sir! The First Aid tent is over there!" sort of thing.
We were naturally concerned that our former Western Warbirds and COPA celebrity status would make it tough to blend in. We don’t need Paris Hilton type problems. However, everyone was so nice, and pretended not to see us. Except one guy looking for an autograph.
"Hey! Didn’t you used to be Tony Swain?" he demanded. "Why yes!" I preened… "So which is Jerry Janes? My kid wants his autograph." And so on.
By now John Mrazek was doing his wonderful ‘Mister Magic’ acrobatic routine in his ex-RCAF Harvard ‘Pussy II.’ Scrambling out my magic digi-camera, I was presented with the dreaded black screen… "AAARRRGHH!" Flat batteries!
The sight and sounds of a Harvard roaring about, making circles and figure eights in the sky, instantly transports me back in time, to a skinny kid of 18, boring sky holes over Pine Lake, to impress my girl friend, Alice, working away at the boat rental below. Always said she was, sigh!
Trouble was, with over a hundred yellow Harvards at Penhold, and pretty well all the Cadets rented boats, I was never sure.
COPA CHAPS ON THE JOB
The Mary found it a bit chilly, so went to sit in the car. I wandered over to the busy booths of COPA Flight 5 and the Boundary Bay Flying Club and chatted with new B.C. COPA Chap Terry Wilshire, resplendent in his official whites, and other able reps, COPA Award winners Barb Fielder and Gary Peare.
There was a terrific festive atmosphere. Typical of these smaller shows is the delightful ambience of a Village Fair, with simple static displays of classic planes, local flight schools, Search & Rescue folk, and Air Cadets.
There are Wiggle Cars for the kids, and Mini Golf for those who pant for a putt. Halfway through the Fraser Blues spectacular routine, I remembered some ‘Double A’ flashlight batteries that might fire up the camera, which they did, just as the Blues broke to land. Oh Well. The Fraser Blues are one of few civilian formation teams in Canada, flying four classic Navions, a civilian follow-up of WW 2’s famous P-51 Mustang.
RACE AROUND THE BAY DAY
Next was a demonstration Air Race by three 3 Harvards around a pretend pylon course a la Reno. The race guys were John Mrazek, Keith McMann, and Mike Langford, all local pilots. Keith is a regular Reno entry in his scarlet Race 66.
Adrian Cooper acted as official Chase Plane in his fabulous vintage Formula 1 Cassutt racer. The Chase plane acts as ‘Starter’ and monitors the race from above to advise a pilot’s best options should problems arise.
Unfortunately, my little camera wasn’t up to pics of the race, and I was unable to hobble over to their parking spot. So that was it. As I didn’t enter the face-painting contest, and my adoring fan club did not materialize, I limped urgently out to The Mary and the car, and got away before the rush, driving the four miles to Delta to see if per chance they’d gathered there. But sigh, not a sign.
CANADA DAY AT DELTA
What a wonderful Canada Day weekend! The weather was just right. DAPCOM’s Whizz barbeque team for Friday’s Meet & Greet, guaranteed a relaxed fun evening.
The RAAC National AGM was held in Chapter 85’s clubhouse, a perfect venue, and the Annual Banquet at the nearby Town & Country Motel served an acclaimed excellent Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud dinner.
There followed both serious and funny short speeches, and all were off early to bed, to be ready for Canada Day, and the Big Fly-in.
The Breakfast Team did the expected fabulous job, and hamburgers and hot dogs kept coming through the afternoon.
Some really interesting vintage aircraft turned up, (see the pictures) a fascinating collection of old cars, and a jolly display of antique Stationary Engines, ‘Putt-Putting’ away.
Thanks to you-all for coming. We can’t wait to see you next year.
So I guess that’s it
Tony Swain & The Mary retired COPA guys.
Photos courtesy Tony Swain