Click pictures to view larger images
The Delta Breakfast Gang were delighted when COPA 1953 Co-Founder John Bogie turned up to meet old friends and pilots of his iconic Laurentian Airways from those many years ago.
I‘m not sure what all the past relationships were, but an impressive bunch of senior aviation ex and current Bigwigs commandeered a big table to welcome him.
Crammed in the general melee were notables Tim Cole, Dave Larrigan, Derek Hudson, Chris Cox, Joe Hessberger, John McGregor, Doc Baldoc, and various wives.
It was a cheerful crowd, and we learned such snippets that John once owned 96 Beavers! Mostly surplus from the USAF, which his company gradually made over as bush planes for Canada’s North and all. If it weren’t for John, we might still be using Fox Moths on floats!
Local COPA Director Terry Wilshire showed him around and discussed the ups and downs of rural recreational aerodrome operations as under a burgeoning international air carrier hub, and lumbered with the restrictions and beeping equipment that come with it. Sigh.
John was whisked off for a couple of sightsee rides, first in John McGregor’s mint L19 Cessna Bird Dog, and next with Tim Cole in ‘Wilber,’ the Orville Group’s jaunty Champ.
We were all honoured that John would visit our little Airpark, and a standing ovation thanked him for the inspiration of COPA and the good works it does for Personal Aviation.
THE MARY VISITS VICTORIA
The recent COPA Director meet in Victoria provided a welcome chance to renew acquaintances with my old colleagues on ‘The Board.’ So we sneakily booked a room at their official Travelodge Motel in Sidney, on the Saanich Peninsula, close by the airport.
It’s been a while since we rode the ferry, and really enjoyed the cruise. Years ago, my Mom, visiting from the UK, enthused it was “…the first time I’ve ever been on a real ocean liner!” They were more traditional ship-looking those days.
Anyway, after checking in, we went off to see a couple of long time ago ex pat Calgary sports car friends. Both very comfy, one wine tasting and singing in Brentwood Bay, and the other with a little farm near the airport, selling Kiwi fruit and Brazil nuts, and building a boat. They sure are an energetic lot.
We had dinner at Mary’s Bleue Moon Café, popular with airport staff, and right across Canora Road from Victoria Air Maintenance and the Air Museum. The original Mary is long gone, but the present owners, Ross and Val Clark, splendidly carry on the special aviation décor - there’s a real P/W 1340 on the wall! And it remains a ‘warm and friendly place.’
FRIDAY AT THE VICAIR
Refuelled, we popped over to Vicair’s hangar to see Mike Ingram, partner Colin Monteith, and Office Boss Shelley, who’d looked after Bessy all those years. But the V.A.M. office was empty.
We peered about and halloo’ed in the hangar, where a DC-3 and Grumman Goose were having major work. Mary returned to the car. Round a corner I suddenly came upon a bright young woman in blue coveralls, recovering a DC-3 elevator.
“Can I help you?” she says… “I’m Kim, and I’m in charge.”
“Looking for Mike,” says I.
“Oh! That’s my dad. They’re all out for long lunch. It’s Friday you know.” She said to look around some more; they’d soon be back.
It was quite a thrill to find a couple of Lockheed T-33’s parked on their ramp. Sigh. What a wonderful flying machine!
Back at the car, I found Mary surrounded by the missing Vicair folks, delighted to see The Mary again after so long. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since Bessy was there.
VICTORIA’S AVIATION MUSEUM
From there we popped over to Victoria’s B.C. Aviation Museum and were shown around by Docent of the day, Badger Berger-North, an ex NATO RAF student like me. Course 5504. We enjoyed a good natter, and he got another volunteer to show us the inner sanctum, where a passel of restoration work was underway, particularly a sad old Harvard, which was being faked back up in a wondrous way.
Badger showed us the precious Wellington Bomber tail wheel, recovered long after the war by the pilot, Flt /Lt Jake Ferguson, DFC, CD, from a souvenir collector near Wuppertal, Germany, where ‘Wimpy’ N-AE, of 428 Squadron went down during a raid the night of May 23,1943.
OUR COPA REUNION
Saturday evening, we snuck up on the COPA Board dinner at the aforementioned Mary’s Bleue Moon food emporium, and were they ever surprised! Amid shouts of welcome, we joined them for the evening. It was like the old days, scoffing down at Friday’s in Ottawa.
Mary’s owner Ross welcomed us, and asked our patience as we were to be served by a trainee waitress on her first big job. No worries, though a spare steak sandwich was offered around, and a slight shuffle with the separate bills, but the food was scrumptious.
From there we hi’ed over to the Victoria Flying Club where Kevin gave a very thorough briefing to all about the options and ramifications of the new 406 ELT regulations.
He even demonstrated an impressive personal portable backup, which a number of folk took a keen interest in. By then the day was late, and most of us slunk off to bed.
MORE AIRPLANE ART
Next morning we breakfasted at the Pier Bistro on the wharf at the foot of the main street. Great place. Then I went for a walkabout on my new hobby - hunting airplane art. No luck.
But back in Vancouver, the very fine Winsor Gallery invited me to an opening featuring artist Tiko Kerr, who spent much therapeutic time rowing in Coal Harbour by Stanley Park, which inspired some fascinating works, of battered channel markers, a magnificent Capalca tree, and the actual Rowing Club.
But for COPA people, this is Vancouver Harbour, the floatplane place, and Tiko didn’t miss the magic of their comings and goings.
Two magnificent paintings capture the gritty romance of working floatplanes. In one, ‘Freedom from Gravity’, a Twin Otter climbs away into an ethereal blue sky, and the other, ‘Seaplane with Breaking Dawn’, a Turbo Otter serenely bobs at the dock, oblivious of the visual cacophony of the industrious harbour all around. Wonderful. The Winsor Gallery is at 3025 Granville Street.
And I just heard that Warbird Artist Virginia Ivanicki whom I featured last month is to have a full show of her works at the Elliott Louis Gallery at 258 E 1st Ave, Vancouver in July. Way to go… Keep these airplane paintings coming!
THE FLYING COXES
Joan the-Rosie-Riveter got to go fly in the family RV-7 at last. It’s been a long time coming, with Joan getting a mite irate when husband Chris Cox sat around talking airplanes, when he could be up flying off the required 25 hours on their new plane.
But this important test program is now behind them with no glitches, so to Joan’s indescribable joy, they’ve actually been on a fly-out with the gang to Nanaimo.
Check out that smile in the photo here. Isn’t that what this personal flying stuff is all about!
So again, I guess that’s all… Fly Safe now!
Tony Swain, an Old COPA Guy.