Nudging Delta’s circuit to the west is the fine old WWII airfield of Boundary Bay. Since its re-birth some 40 years ago, it has evolved into a serious airport that Alpha Aviation has expanded into a modern terminal with classy commercial operations.
Flight schools serve various levels of student druthers, and recently, the old east runway sprouted private hangers for business, personal, vintage and Warbird enthusiasts.
Hence their bi-annual air show has an eclectic collection of booths and flying displays to entertain the local citizenry. The friendly country fair atmosphere nurtures public understanding of our passion, it’s business practicality, and the sheer joy of flight.
The exuberant aerobatics of John Mrazek in his stately old Harvard, his father and son team of two ex-military L-29 jets, and the tumbling excitement of Les Mitchell in his mid wing Acrobat, combine with Vintage and Warbird fly-byes et al, to create an aura of romance that encourages young and old to consider seriously this flying thing. Way to go!
Whilst The Mary held the fort at Delta, I soaked up the atmosphere, and chatted up old friends. Drawn inexorably to the Warbird and Vintage ramp, there was Keith McMann, chatting with the onetime RCAF T-33 Red Knight crew chief.
Keith’s Reno Race #64 is a latter day Harvard Red Knight! His brother Vic’s Race #66 Harvard, is painted like their Dad’s WWII Typhoon ‘night ops’ scheme, black, with white under wing ident stripes, to avoid being mistaken for the Luftwaffe’s FW- 190, and attracting ‘friendly’ fire! Alongside were the Janes CJ-6 Nanchang, the Museum of Flight’s beautiful AQC-6 Cabin Waco, and Tiger Moth, Mike Langford’s splendid ‘period’ painted Harvard 4, and Mike ‘The Mekon’s’ mint Globe Swift. And more, beyond my view. So I grabbed an official ham sandwich, and walked the static line.
So much to see
In the original WWII hangar, folks lined up to tour Innotech’s sleek Citation J-2 plus jet, and Cessna’s Chief pilot Chris Provencio, explained how he did everything on his I-Pad!
Along the ramp I was delighted to find old Warbird friend Bill Lamberton, with his wonderful ex RCAF Avro Tutor jet trainer, up from Seattle, looking straight out of 1970’s Jet AFS. At the far end Big Jerry Janes’ sparkling Beech 18 waited patiently.
Predictably, the ‘on special’ batteries in my trusty Cyber- Shot decided to play silly-B’s, and quit digitating… Sigh! Crisis… No general store on the field… Aaargh! Begged off itinerant photo folks. “Sorry, use dedicated power packs, etc., etc.” Eventually Ruth Ilg said “Oh, my Henry will have some, maybe at the SAR booth?” He was, and he did. Thanks Henry!
The Boundary Bay Flying Club cum COPA Flight 5 tent teemed with members, (well maybe 10 or so), regaling the passing throng with the wonders of flying about for fun, etc, and providing shade and sustenance for tired old, not so bold, pilots.
Revived by the hot-dog thus acquired, I wandered on to discover the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Booth, ‘manned’ by two very smart 2nd Lts, Elicia Houle, and Therasa Hirst, of #828 Hurricane Squadron. Having recently attended a big RCAC parade at the Seaforth Armouries, in downtown Kitsilano, I managed a casual pseudo knowledgeable manner to regale them about TBirds when I was a lad.
Nearby, Delta’s Chapter 85 RAAC, had their venerable Turbi on display, and Alex Routh busily popped thrilled kids in and out of the cockpit with assembly line precision. The much missed great local homebuilder Gogi Goguillot built this Druine Turbi in the late 1960s, and he generously let friends use for weekends or more. It’s been a faithful club plane now for many a year.
The M and I had plans, so I had ‘my secretary’, a motorbike instructor at the Pacific Riding School Booth, call Mary to pick me up. And so ended my day at The B-Bay! Lots-a fun.
Bell-Irving Squadron Parade
During my Hero Warbird flying life, I was appointed ‘Duty Pilot’ for the RCL Branch #176, the famed Billy Bishop Legion, in Kitsilano (also COPA Virtual Flight Zero for the Friday night dinners). Anyway, in mid-June, I represented The Billy at the Change of Command Ceremony investing the new CO for the Bell-Irving Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron #135, at their Seaforth Armories base in Kitsilano.
I was delighted, especially as it’s exactly 60 years since my being drafted into the RAF. So, resplendent in my NATO blazer and yacht club tie, The Mary dropped me off, and after rigorous security checks, entered the hallowed drill hall where the cadets were assembled, and was seated with parents and other VIPs.
The band struck up, and led a series of marching about, culminating in a march-past salute to the Senior Officer present, Col. Michael Shiels, and colour presentation to incoming CO, all loudly choreographed by a diminutive young lady, Parade Commander, Cadet Warrant Officer 2nd Class, Chung.
When the CWO Chung called “Open Order!” for inspection by the senior officer’s entourage, I was surprised when Liaison Officer Lisa Cheung asked me to accompany the new CO, Capt. Tim Challen, and outgoing CO, Capt. Darcy Bodnaruk, for the inspection.
Viewing these keen young cadets eye to eye was a great honour, and brought my 1952 Officer School memories flooding back. It was an amazingly moving experience… I truly appreciate the opportunity so offered.
The idea behind the Air Cadet program is to prepare youngsters for possible later enrollment in the RCAF, or simply to assist their development into capable, confident adults. So “thank you” to the Billy Bishop, the Bell-Irving Squadron. It was magnificent. Good luck to them all!
A quiet Sunday at Delta
The weekends between Delta’s Second Sunday Pancake Breakfasts are pretty tranquil. Most anything flyable is up, up, and away to some distant fly-in, and a bucolic peace falls over the field. A few faithful volunteers greet visitors to the park, folks on bikes, walking dogs, bird watchers, and even some who look at planes. We explain, the satisfaction, wonder, and joy this flying thing offers, and give parents Flight 5 information cards about COPA for Kids.
A couple arrived recently from Chilliwack in their RV-6A, commanded by their tiny King Charles Spaniel dog, Katy, decked out with huge ear-muffs.
I was intrigued, they talked just like me. They were Judy and Geoff Pickard, from Bradford and Stockport respectively, less than 100 Brit miles from my home town of Hull in Yorkshire. So we a right old natter! They now hail from Lindell Beach, on Cultus Lake, B.C., and their RV is ex-Billings Montana.
Delta Stearman driver Trevor Skillen just loves the place, and recently dropped in with his ‘Gone Fishing’ plane, a lovely old DH Beaver, which can’t decide whether to be on floats or wheels. He’d just returned from an expedition to the Brebner family’s Tsuniah Lake fishing lodge, near the top end of Chilko Lake, about 170 nautical from Vancouver. The AF4 strip is 4,000 feet long by 4,000 feet high! Lucky for us, the fishing was good, so he gave The Mary a spare for my supper! “Yes sir, that’s fine, just park right there!”
Mystery Mexican Roller
Couple of months ago, a young chap came to our Sunday brekky with a huge box of his Dad’s old Air Force photos.Particularly fascinating were the dozens of T-6/Harvard pics, engaged in all sorts of military daring do. Now remember last month I wrote how the CHAA had replaced Old Bessy’s Delta triangle with an RCAF Roundel, to stop American’s thinking her an inverted Mexican Air Force deserter? This chap’s Dad was a top pilot in the Mexican Air Force, and he left a couple of framed pics in the office. We expected he’d be back, so didn’t get his name. The accompanying pic explains all!
And that’s all for now… Fly safe!
— Tony Swain & The Mary email@example.com