Many thanks for crossing The Rocks for the COPA Fly-in and AGM. It’s a big deal, and the first-timers learned a lot about flying from that!
What a great couple of weeks. There’ll be lots of talk-talk about the Great Langley Trip among Canada’s flying folk for a while to come. I look forward to reading a flying story or two about getting here. It’s quite the flight!
Our local guys and gals worked their butts off to make it work, and apart from the iffy weather through the Rockies, all went well.
Mary and I took a ‘pretend’ summer vacation, and stayed the weekend in splendor at the official Coast Casino Hotel, just like Reno, complete with sausage and eggs for brekky! Yes!
It was absolutely great to join my old Board colleagues in the hospitality room, and laugh about ‘those days’. Sigh… How time passes.
The Mary bustled about with Eileen Cole’s local committees, and ‘volunteered’ me as an adhoc greeter person. I actually ended up as Joe Hessberger’s side kick herding the various exhibit booths into shape.
Sure kept me busy, limping around with my stick to keep em in line. Felt like a government census guy, listing all booth personnel in case of something or other.
At the AGM on Saturday, COPA Chair Bob Kirkby announced that sadly, our good friend and recent BC and Yukon Director Terry Wilshire had passed away quietly the previous morning, after a lengthy illness, ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
He spoke of Terry’s diligent workon behalf of COPA and the aviation community, and especially his magnificent volunteer administration work for Metro Vancouver Parks via the Delta Heritage Air Park Committee, DAPCOM. Appointed to the post by Chapter 85 RAAC when the airpark was under serious threat, he led this committee for over 16 years, for which he earlier received a COPA Award.
His aviation enthusiasm arose from great admiration of his Uncle Freddie, who he never met. During the Scond World War, Freddie was an RAF Beaufort pilot, heroically lost over the English Channel in 1941. Terry’s love of the Spitfire stemmed from its role in defending Britain, its flight abilities and beautiful lines.
Established in Canada, Terry pursued his passion, and with a friend, created the Wilshire 85% scale Spitfire, selling plans and kits around the world. His personal prototype was in process of being generally improved and re-powered when he became ill.
This aircraft was on display at Steve Foley’s hangar at the recent COPA for Kids day at Pitt Meadows.
In recognition of his recent work on the Board, he was again awarded the COPA Appreciation Award, which I had the great honour of accepting, on behalf of his wife Gillian, and family.
To the end, Terry remained aware of the progress for the COPA Fly-in AGM, which he strove to have on the West Coast. He died secure in the depth of love with his family, but very aware of the high regard he held by his peers.
Terry was in his mid-60s, way too early to lose such a fine husband, father, friend and gentleman. So go frolic in the freedom of your new skies old friend.
We shall remember you!
...THE SHOW WENT ON
And so planes arrived from across the nation, including a Cessna 150 from Ontario, and a Harvard and Cornell from Vintage Wings of Canada, in Gatineau, Quebec. It was frustrating that my arthritis prevented my properly exploring the visitors’ ramp, and was confined to the hurly-burly of the Exhibits and Seminar area. So, as there was lots going on, resplendent in my official green volunteer t-shirt, I wandered around, answering questions, directing people.
In the grand ‘Food Court’ The Mary and I got to mingle with old and new friends, and were mildly surprised at how many knew us, and enjoyed my monthly ramblings. It really was a wonderful crowd.
SATURDAY LUNCHEON & ALL
The excellent buffet ‘comfort’ lunch on Saturday gave everyone a chance to mix, match and mingle, which is what such COPA events are all about.
Strolling about during these casual events is a great way to meet flying people from across the country. The feeling of Canadian camaraderie is infectious, and despite the occasional hiccups, provides a wonderful feeling of goodwill.
Councillor Grant Ward, himself a COPA member, took the podium and welcomed us all to Langley Township, and the nearby tourist attractions. He emphasized the business advantages to having such a thriving airport right in the town.
Airport Manager George Miller, former original Snowbird Leader, and more recently leader of the local Fraser Blues Navion formation team, welcomed all the fly-ins to ‘his’ airport, and extolled the delights of the Canadian Museum of Flight, and fine dining places at the field.
Meantime, next door in the Quonset Hangar, celebrated aviation writer Jack Schofield gave a spirited talk about “Flying the West Coast!” Jack‘s aviation humour is lapped up by pilots, who really-really understand this stuff! And so the day progressed.
THE BIG BANQUET
The Awards Banquet was a magnificent affair at the Coast Hotel. Emcee Chris Georgas of the Pacific Rim Academy kept it rolling right along. The Mary and I settled in to enjoy a pleasant meal with old friends, and I was expecting a small plaque acknowledging my regular writing stuff. Then Bruce Prior started talking and showing pictures about Delta. Yeah, yeah… been there.
But The Bruce kept talking, to a rapt audience, with yet more pics. “Huh?” Slowly it clicked this was about us! …O.M.G.! I grabbed a disbelieving Mary and we snuck down toward the front, hoping to end it all quickly, so they could get on to other things.
But no, The Bruce kept talking… Extolling us for stuff years ago we’d forgotten all about. Then Bang! He announced that Mary and Tony were awarded the prestigious COPA Award of Merit, and the entire assembly of 300 odd flying folk leapt to their feet amid thunderous applause.
WE LOVE YOU ALL!
With 600 eyes locked on us, I thought The Mary was going to faint… I know I tottered a bit.
It was the most overwhelmingly emotional experience in our lives. That’ll teach us to bustle about doing things for you guys! Earl Kickley handed Mary the mike. Remember, she’s 82.
“I just can’t believe it… I can’t talk!” she whispered. But after a few seconds she recovered, and simply said… “I just love you all!” which brought another standing ovation.
Of course glib me must have said something, but I can’t remember.
Such recognition from our friends was totally unexpected, and they laughed saying it’s the first time they’ve seen us lost for words. Thanks so much everybody (We’ll get that Bruce guy).
I guess there were other awards, and I recall a fascinating presentation by Rob Fleck about the Vintage Wings aircraft dedications that commemorate the BCATP.
Afterward we managed to snag Bruce and Jean to join us with the COPA Board in the hospitality suite, where the talk-talk about a successful Fly-in and all lasted into the night.
After breakfast Sunday morning, we headed over the new golden Ears Bridge to Pitt Meadows, and were amazed how short the trip was, compared to prebridge! Well worth the toll.
There we saw old cars, more booths and airplanes, chatted with John Lovelace, and inspected Terry’s Spitfire at the Foley Hangar. What a fabulous weekend.
JULY AT DELTA
Immediately there-after was Delta’s July 2nd Open House & Fly-in. The weather was iffy, and the numbers down a bit. But this made for a more relaxed gathering, allowing us to enjoy the visiting flying machines, RV’s, Harvard, Stearman, Sea Bee, Nanchang, Fairchild 24 and all.
We were thrilled that our old Western Warbird Harvard friends the McLeans came over from Duncan in their new RV6. Says it’s really fast, but seems a mite small after the Harvard and his Beaver.
We also approved Mike Langford’s new Harvard paint job a-la-1958-ish. However, the pretty spinner was not RCAF standard. Too much maintenance.
For the technically minded, Mike Jackman, AME, was amidst the annual on Big Jerry Janes’ Nanchang in the barn. Fascinating to see the quality Chinese workmanship exposed!
Ron Zeleschuck and his food team did a great job providing scrumptious hamburgers, and a roast beef dinner later. Great job guys.
A BILL AT MISSION
As some of you know, in the dim past I was a race car driver, and occasionally succumb to its attraction, though driving my MG inverted at 76 mph once, has tempered any recent desire to participate. I no longer hear straight.
Anyway, in early June I went to the Mission Historic Motor Races, to vicariously enjoy the action. The Guest of Honour was a bloke called Bill Sadler, who I remembered from the old days as Canada’s race car designer per excellence.
Everyone wanted a Sadler! They were little cars with huge engines. There was even a Sadler Ferocious. He is truly a great Canadian race car guy.
So my ears perked up when they announce that tomorrow he would fly over in Vic Bentley’s Museum Harvard… Way to go!
After wandering the pits and ensuring that all within were aware that I too, was a racing legend, I retired to the stands to watch the fun. And Lo! Who should come sit in front, but the Great Bill himself, and friend, Rick. His race suit sported a Brit Goodwood Track badge, so I asked when he was last there, I having vague connection of friends who race there.
“Last year!” says he… And we got to talking. Turned out they’d flown in from Florence, Oregon, in Rick’s Grumman Tiger! Hey-Hey! And Rick further informed me that Bill was a pilot, and furthermore he built his own planes at Sadler Air! I should ‘a known! He was writ up last year in Sport Aviation! He even founded LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Cool. Go to www.sadlerair.com for all the gen.
So June was a rather hectic bitter sweet month. A couple of great local fly-ins were tempered by the loss of our good friend Terry, and sadly, Delta volunteer Joe Shewella lost his lovely wife, Sharon, after a brief battle with cancer. Our condolences go to both their families.
Other local news was that our Reno Air Race T-6 pilot Keith McMann hit a deer on his Harley motorbike whilst riding through Stevens Pass USA. Debby has him home now with a neck brace, a metal plate, and broken bone in his hand. So no Reno this year Sigh.
Guess that’s all folks… Fly safe now!
— Tony Swain & The Mary…