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Here we are again… Since we last spoke we’ve had Remembrance Day, Christmas and now, A Happy New Year.
This is actually being writ the end of November, so please excuse my confusion cos some things haven’t happened yet!
It’s the Christmas ‘Pot Luck’ Social tonight at the Delta’s Chapter 85 RAAC’s restored Clubhouse. A guaranteed good do with lots of goodies and a happy throng of flying folk. My Mary gets right in the spirit!
As Delta Heritage Air Park is a Metro Vancouver Park, some of us were invited to a wonderful Christmas ‘do’ at historic Cammidge House, at Centennial Beach.
The B.C. Aviation Council folk are off on a Carol Ship Cruise, and all the local flying clubs will be doing their own thing in the next few weeks. We deserve a bit of celebrating!
As greeting cards arrive to lend cheer to our Kitsilano Flat, The Mary again brings out her most precious Christmas card. Many years ago, at the UK’s Popular Flying Association 1985 convention at Cranfield, she answered an appeal for a Czech interpreter, and had impressed by her surprising knowledge of homebuilts, warbirds and aviation activities in general.
Then PFA Chairman, David Faulkner Bryant, thus invited Mary to assist Air Commodore Christopher Paul to judge the Concour’s d’Elegance exhibitors. This was rather like being asked to help Paul Poberezny judge the custom homebuilts at Oshkosh.
When they came upon a row of six magnificent SE5a Replicas, she balked, exclaiming… “Oh, I can’t judge these! I’ll be biased, these were designed by our friends, Gogi and Big Dan, and my husband drew the plans!” Needless to say she was prevailed upon, and chose one with authentic fabric using hooks, eyes and lacing.
Her new friend Chris sent a lovely Christmas card that year, from the Royal Air Force Club in London, showing a row of SE5a’s of No. 56 Squadron RAF in France, 1918, reproduced from an original oil painting by Frank Wootton, P.G.Av.A.
This rich colour artwork exquisitely depicts the perceived romance and supposed bucolic atmosphere of the fighter pilot’s world in World War One.
In the card, Chris thanks her for putting him in touch with his old WW 2 friend, Air Marshall Larry Dunlap (RCAF retired), of Victoria. It was an honour to have met these grand old flyers. Real gentlemen.
And so we remember them. The various flight groups practiced for weeks for the 2009 Remembrance Day. The proud veterans welcome these nostalgic formation fly-pasts which add appropriate emotional ambiance to the official Cenotaph ceremonies.
For a number of years now, Delta Heritage Air Park has held its own less formal ceremony at the flagpole in Lodestar Park. It is surprisingly emotional, as various attendees speak out about friends and loved ones, lost or maimed, in whichever of the numerous conflicts that continue to plague our precious world.
The Delta pilots took off at about 10:30 a.m. to find their place in the formation parade around the Vancouver area, White Rock, Langley, Surrey, Port Moody, North Van, West Van, Vancouver Airport, Richmond, Ladner and Delta. Each group flew over about half a dozen cenotaphs. The flight plan and ATC co-ordination was smooth and efficient. Well done everyone!
Due to our location at the beginning and end of the flights, Delta normally only sees their own on departure and return, with maybe a Harvard passing overhead to a landing at Boundary Bay. However, this year, we were delighted at the arrival of four Harvards in tight formation, from over the water, and carried out a magnificent 270 degree pylon turn around our gathering.
Then, shortly after, came four Yaks, with a Harvard in the box, and after passing overhead, CJ-6 Yak #3, did a beautiful missing man pull up prior to landing back home at Delta.
Following that our local G/A team of Cherokees, Cessna’s and homebuilts returned to base, and everyone headed to the Old Coffee Shop for a bowl of The Mary’s traditional soup, buttered bread buns, and scrumptious deserts.
It was good to see COPA B.C. rep Terry Wilshire and wife Gillian mingling with the crowd, as he’s had a rough time recently after falling and cracking a couple of ribs. Terry is also our Air Park Committee Chair.
So thanks to all those attending, and to our pilots, Mike Langford and his Harvard group, Keith McMann, John Mrazek, and Bud Granley, and the so-called ‘Yak’ formation, led by Big Jerry Janes in Mike ‘The Mekon’s Yak 18t, Ross Granley in his 18t, Don Crowe and Barry Mann each in a CJ-6, and Vic McMann in the box with his Harvard T-6. Followed by the regular group of excellent Delta Pilots, Don Hubble, Harry Pride, Shona Hirota, Gary Peare, and others… Sorry, I don’t have a full list.
A couple of very welcome guests were there too. Metro Parks Area Superintendent Mitch Sokalski and his Event Co-ordinator, Suzanne Stewart-Patterson and their partners. They were immensely impressed by it all. As Mitch said, he had no idea how emotional and ‘proper’ Delta’s modest ceremony would be, and watching the Harvards, Yaks and our pilots saluting the veterans so magnificently in ‘his’ park was just awe-inspiring.
It was the most flying activity he’d ever actually seen at Delta, as normally, he would be attending some formal admin meeting. He was just delighted.
Space was at a premium inside, so Mitch’s party partook of their soup and buns at a patio picnic table. Once again Delta folks had managed a very successful event. The Mary figured they’d hosted about 140 people.
Later, after folks had mostly drifted away, Mary and I drove into Ladner to meet with the Warbird pilots at the local Royal Canadian Legion., where they traditionally go to de-brief, wind down, and tell hangar stories.
It’s good to see our old Western Warbird air show friends, and that they make such a fuss of us ‘Old Guys’. It’s really nice.
From there we headed into Vancouver, and to the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano, where it seems everyone from all the various parades and cenotaphs gather to toast the future and shake hands with the vets to whom we owe so much.
These days… sadly, the Famous Billy is having tight times, due mainly to heavy city taxes, where, unlike surrounding municipalities, Vancouver allows no special exemption to service clubs.
It’s a shame. Most of the year, the Billy is a quiet oasis for members, guests and ordinary folk to relax from the pressures of modern life. It’s not the rowdy beer parlour often envisioned by the general public. It has the furnishings and ambience of a WW-2 Aircrew mess. Drop by when you’re in town; it’s a great place to meet with old friends. It’s a comfy place, a precious collectable. Sigh.
WHISTLERING IN THE WIND
The Whistler Winter Olympics, special airspace procedures, restrictions, and associated security come next.
The local sightseeing float plane people are mortified to be grounded, (or is it watered?) during these Olympic celebrations, and thus unable to benefit from all this hoopla. Shame.
Our own bit of the flying pie will be severely scrutinized. So make sure you know what’s to do, or you will be mightily sat upon. Thankfully, it’s not exactly prime time fun-flying season. Sigh.
So fly safe and a Happy New Year!
Tony & The Mary, The Copaguys at email@example.com