Air fair at ‘the Pitt’


The Aero Club of B.C. held its annual ‘COPA for Kids’ gofly day in conjunction with the Pitt Meadows Airport Open House and it promised to be a great fun affair, so the M and I powered up the old blue Mazda and headed over there.

It’s quite a jaunt from Kits, and to avoid the popular delays on the Port Mann Bridge, we went via Delta and the new Golden Ears toll bridge, (The bill’s in the mail!) and we just whistled through.

The fierce gate guard took pity on a couple of old folks with sticks, and let us park just inside the gate instead of a half mile walk down the road. There are advantages to being fogies.

Anyway, The Mary said her dickey leg would last only as far as the chair she espied by the Foley ‘Aerspace’ hangar, amidst a bunch of her flying friends, who were “Oo-ing and Ah-ing” etc. at Terry Wilshire’s replica Tally-Ho Spit, resplendent with wings attached.

I was shoo-ed off to “Go see stuff… Never mind me!” …You know how it is.

It was a bit like the PNE Fair! Swing band performing in a hangar, Search and Rescue demonstration with a person unknown dangling precariously from a chopper, and a formation of kids in Flying Barrels snaking through the crowds. Finding the COPA Kids event was a bit tricky, negotiating the maze of security fences about the place, but I finally found the Aero Club of B.C. inundated with parents, kids and CFK participants. Delta folks Bruce and Jean Prior were helping out, and inside, Registrar Margret Galasso was busy filling out forms. A smart lady Air Cadet Officer was ‘manning’ the Cadets Canada booth, and excited kids were milling around the aircraft on static display. It was wonderful.

Nigh on 40 years ago, the Mary learned to fly here on Fleet Canuck, HHE, with fabled instructor, Bob Gilmour. So I sought him here and I sought him there, coffee shop, admin office, hangar row, a barbecue booth, a guy, Ed Shanahan, who flew Cessna Cranes out of Dauphin Manitoba in WWII.

The police even showed off their monster new armored crowd control vehicle, but they hadn’t seen him. Sigh! Just don’t go buzzing the tower!

Finally, there he was, wandering in the crowd. After some hugging and laughing, I pointed him in Mary’s direction, and he snuck up on her. What an emotional re-union.

First instructor’s are important people! There were other common interests, Bob flew Harvards a long time ago, and we agreed that their handling is very similar! And so our day wound down, The Pitt had a successful open house; folks began wandering away, so we headed home via the scenic of Port Moody and the Barnett Highway, allowing us to enjoy a scrumptious Fish & Chip feast at the Cockney Kings in Kensington Plaza on Vancouver’s far East Hastings Street. Yum!

Ginny’s ACA Show

Delta’s popular resident aviation artist Ginny Ivanicki gave another slide show of her works to the Vancouver Air Crew Association at the Crescent Beach Royal Canadian Legion. In addition to her WW-2 paintings, Ginny included recent works of local seaplanes, and images of her favorite uncle, Flt Lt. Al Strell, who flew Lancasters with the RCAF at Skipton on Swale in Yorkshire.

She was thrilled to meet two veterans who also flew from Skipton whilst he was there! Few of these grand old guys show up these days, so it’s an honour to tell them directly how much we Brits appreciated the job they did. When I was about eight years old, they flew over our house in Hull, heading home after a raid, engines smoking, tails vibrating, and huge holes through the wings. Sigh.

Ginny enthusiastically told them of an unexpected ride the previous weekend in an MX2 aerobatic plane, at the Olympia air show. A bit nervous, she asked pilot ‘Super Dave’ Mathieson to go easy. So he only did a hammerhead stall, half loop, and a few rolls. Just a plain stuff, no spinning!

She had a ball, and now feels she could easily have taken more. Like a fun playground up there! Ginny now has her pilot license, and is a regular volunteer at Delta.

Bessy update…

From Sandra Sparkes, Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, Tillsonberg, Ont.: Hi Tony, so great to hear from you! CHAA had four Harvards at the COPA Convention at the Saugeen Airport in Hanover, Ont. in June 2012. Our acting COpsO, Edward Soye, was pleased to have much-loved Bessy as part of that formation, and this being a COPA event, felt it so fitting! Our Formation Team, with smoke on, did an excellent demonstration of various tight formations for an appreciative crowd.

The picture was taken on theSaturday ... at left is CHAA President Bill Shepard, then Bessy, and CHAA pilot Allan Paige with new member from Listowell, Ont., right after experiencing his first Harvard flight. So rest assured, Tony, Bessy is a much-loved member of our fleet, (probably the most loved!) and is in excellent hands.

All the best to you and Mary. Smiles.

Well, that’s great news! We worry about her you know. However, she doesn’t smoke, it was the other gals! The added RCAF Roundels replacing the ‘Big Green Delta Triangles’ are an identity thing, to avoid endless explanations on flights through the States. Apparently they suspected some sort of inverted Mexican Air Force insignia!

Royal Jubilee activities

During the recent Royal Jubilee celebrations, The Mary and I were invited to join the head table with the duty ‘Queen of the Day’ and other important people. There were special celebrations including Bagpipes,

Scottish Dancing, and patriotic singing. We suspect our invitation had something to do with my loud drill sergeants voice. The exalted venue was Stella’s ‘The Diner’, way out West 10th by the UBC gates, purveyors of genuine British cuisine. Which brings an old Bessy tale to mind.

Bessy should be treated with respect you know; in 1983 she flew for The Queen! Her Majesty arrived at Vancouver in The Royal Yacht Britannia! The Seagull Squadron of the Western Warbirds was commanded to greet Her Majesty on approach to the Lion’s Gate Bridge, to ensure all was well.

Seven privately operated Harvards carried out this important mission with great aplomb, so much so, that Prince Phillip requested we go around a couple more times, because he used to fly them!

Flight leader was Capt. Chris McLean, with wingmen McPherson, Janes, Lannon, Davidson, Chase, and Cadet Swain. We received a letter from the Palace later with Prince Phillip’s regrets, that due to previous engagements, he was unable to attend an upcoming Delta Air Park Event. Darn!

Delta doings & stuff

Great news from past Delta Harvard flying folks Chris and Kathy McLean, that their son Capt. Scott McLean, had just won his Wings at Moose Jaw. Gosh, that zooms me back 60 years! He’s appeared from time to time in this column as he’s progressed through the family traditional aviation life. Cuttings from this paper have been pinned to the Flight room notice board! He’s the third generation McLean military pilot. Congratulations Scott… “Don’t touch anything!”

In other news… Sadly, the traditional Delta July first weekend Open house and Fly-in was cancelled due to weather. Lots of rain forecast. This was the first cancellation in 40 years! Of course the weather was excellent both the day before, and OK the day after. Sigh. However a couple of old cars turned up, and about 90 folks arrived for breakfast.

Among these were a couple Bob and June Plouffe, whom I sat with to chat with the state of the world and all. Not having seen them before, I asked June why they came.

“Because he’s crazy about aeroplanes!” said she. “Really… In what way?” Well, back in 1952 he was an illustrator for Canada Car and Foundry at Thunder Bay. He did all those exploded diagrams for the RCAF Harvard Parts and Maintenance Manuals, of which I have a full set and more, right here, in the special airplane corner of our living room!

And further, in the late fifties, as a draftsman with CPA Repairs at Calgary’s RCAF Lincoln Park, I did the same thing for mods to Harvards, Lancs, Mitchells, Beech 18s, and such. So we had a good chin-wag. Then I turned him over to BBFC Fly Club member, Gordon Hindle, who still does the same thing. It’s a small world. And that’s all folks… Fly safe now!

— Tony Swain & The Mary…