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COPA turned 60 in 2012


COPA - 60 years

Like the Queen of England, COPA celebrated their diamond jubilee anniversary in 2012. The following is a summary of COPA’s history and some of its many accomplishments dating back to 1952.

The idea to form COPA was born in April, 1952. Back then, Laurentian Air Services pilot John Bogie was having lunch in the Ottawa Flying Club lounge with Spartan Air Services pilot Bill Peppler and Paul Saunders when Ottawa pilot Margaret Carson came storming in and declared that something had to be done about the way small aircraft owners and operators were being mistreated by the government.

At the time no one was looking after the small operators and individual aircraft owners in Canada.

One of the issues that sparked Carson’s initiative was the application of highway tax on aviation gasoline.

As a result of that informal discussion, interested local Ottawa pilots chipped in $5.00 each to pay for printing and mailing of notices. An organization meeting was held on Friday, Dec. 12, 1952, at 1:30 p.m. in the Ottawa Flying Club lounge. Bogie acted as chairman of the meeting and Carson acted as secretary.

It was moved by Margaret Carson, seconded by Angus Morrison, that the committee contact J. B. Hartranft, Jr., of Washington, president of AOPA to ask if he could arrange to come to Ottawa during January to meet with the committee to discuss organization of an association such as AOPA in Canada and exchange of AOPA services.

A kind offer was received from Morrison of AITA of the temporary use of office space, a desk, telephone, addressograph and mimeograph machines by the proposed association.

Carl Millard, of Carl Millard Ltd., Toronto, Ont., advised that he had contacted R. Keith of Canadian Aviation Magazine and Bob Halford of Aircraft Magazine and they both offered to cooperate with publicity in connection with the formation of this association with no charge.

Morrison suggested that the AITA could advise its members of the plans for the formation of this proposed association in a bulletin and it was suggested that the committee ask George Hurren if the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association would do the same.
Canadian Advisory Council

AOPA’s “Doc” Hartranft accepted the group’s invitation to come to Ottawa. A meeting was scheduled for January 30, 1953. Word spread of the proposed new organization for light plane pilots and operators. Forty-eight people filled a meeting room at the Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.

John Bogie was appointed acting chairman, Dorothy Drew of the RCFCA was the recording secretary.

Hartranft addressed the group outlining how AOPA was run. He pledged financial support.

A Canadian Advisory Council (CAC) was proposed to initiate the group’s activities until a formal organization to be called “AOPA of Canada” could be chartered.

When COPA was formed in 1952: There were less than 7,000 pilots in Canada: Private – 4,560; Commercial – 1,240; Transport – 775

There were 966 privately-registered aircraft in Canada and 1,294 commercially registered.

First Meeting

The first meeting of the CAC was held in Kingston, Ont. on Feb. 13, 1953.

It was then decided to write to the Department of Transport objecting to it making nautical miles mandatory in Canadian aviation (The manufacturers in the United States were using statute miles).

The Departments of Highways in each province was to be sent a letter objecting to road taxes on aviation gasoline. The DoT was to be asked to make ground controlled approaches available to civilian aircraft and to install radios in military radar stations for communicating with civilian aircraft.

At a meeting in Ottawa on March 4, 1953 the group set the membership fees for AOPA of Canada at $5.00 per year. A Canadian newsletter was sent to be included in an AOPA (U.S.) mailing (This newsletter was produced in Margaret Carson’s basement).

By May, 1953, members of the proposed AOPA Canada were being offered:

  • Assistance with personal flying problems;
  • Legal aid in Canada;
  • Employment assistance;
  • Flight routing service;
  • Map distribution;
  • AOPA Canada newsletter;
  • Group aircraft insurance;

A subscription to Canadian Aviation magazine for an extra $2.

At a June 1953 meeting it was decided to rename the proposed organization the “Canadian Owners and Pilots Association” to avoid confusion with AOPA in the United States.

Canadian Flight magazine

In 1955, COPA launched Canadian Flight, “The pilot’s magazine.” The first edition carried a “June 1955” label on it. The 52-page magazine was compiled by Margaret Carson, who by now had moved the COPA “office” from her basement to her garage. The initial issue sported a colour cover and black and white inside, covering early ELTs (called “SARAHs”), civil defence, converting to a helicopter licence, tips on buying a used aircraft, a business aircraft buyer's guide, building a single-strip airport, weather, gliding, places to fly and much more.

COPA grows

In 1956 Robert (Bob) Thomas, a retired RCAF Wing Commander, agreed to assume the duties of manager of COPA. That same year, clerical staff was hired including Joyce Else and Norma Girard. One of their first tasks was to move COPA’s operations from Margaret Carson’s garage to an office on Wellington St. in downtown Ottawa.

The year 1957 saw COPA growing and shifting from a mostly volunteer organization to one with paid staff and a proper office in Ottawa. In January 1957, temporary Manager Robert Thomas tendered his resignation. The board sought a permanent manager for the association. William “Bill” Peppler started work on July 2, 1957, beginning a 39-year run as manager of the association.

That same year COPA organized a civil air search group in Ottawa called “Emergency Air Corps.” This was patterned after the Civil Air Patrol in the United States and similar groups in Canada. Meetings were held with Royal Canadian Air Force personnel to coordinate plans and efforts for civil aircraft and pilots to join in searches for missing aircraft.

COPA also launched group aviation insurance for its members engaging Donald C. Miller Ltd. of Montreal to administer liability and hull coverages.

At the time COPA membership fee was $10 per year. Corporate Memberships were launched at $25 per year.

In 1958, COPA agreed to act as an umbrella organization for the newly formed Canadian Business Aircraft Operators, the forerunner of the current Canadian Business Aircraft Association. COPA provided administrative services for the new organization from its new office on 77 Metcalfe St. in Ottawa.

The COPA Annual Meeting in St. Jovite in 1959 included a celebration of the 50th year of powered flight in Canada.

In 1960, Margaret Carson ended her time as COPA’s secretary/treasurer and as publisher of the Canadian Flight magazine but continued volunteering and promoting the association for several more years. John Bogie took her place on COPA’s executive committee. COPA manager Bill Peppler became the magazine editor assisted by Art MacDonald.

In 1961, COPA’s Annual Meeting moved to Muskoka Sands Inn in Gravenhurst, Ont. north of Toronto as the St. Jovite site was becoming too small for the growing number of members flying to the event.

In 1962, COPA’s AGM was held in September. The 300 attendees heard banquet guest speaker Ed King, president of King Radio, talk about the upcoming requirement for communication radios to operate on a 100-KHz split.
At the beginning of 1962, there were 5,885 civil aircraft registered in Canada of which 3,708 were privately registered. There were 14,597 pilot licences in force. A government list of airports showed there were 265 licenced and 444 unlicenced land airports in Canada; 276 licenced and 287 unlicenced water airports; and 82 military airports. The newest airport added to the list was at King City, 15 miles northeast of the Malton Airport near Toronto, Ont.

Also that year part of a survey of COPA members indicated that pilot medicals conducted by designated examiners were costing anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00. The government doubled the cost of Canadian Aeronautical charts from 25 cents to 50 cents. COPA opposed the move and advised its members that there were American charts that covered southern Canada that cost 25 cents. The Canadian dollar in 1962 was worth $1.09 U.S.

Elsewhere COPA was working with the Department of Transport to have the maximum weight of a homebuilt aircraft increased from 1,200 to 1,750 lbs. The association also appealed to the government not to be too hasty in its conversion of radio ranges to non-directional beacons as few of Canada’s aircraft were equipped with automatic direction finders.

In August of 1963, at COPA’s Annual Meeting in Kingston, Ont., eastern and western vice-president positions were initiated. Charles “Chuck” Leavens was elected COPA’s first eastern vice-president and Neil Armstrong was elected as the first western vice-president.

In 1964, the cost of a COPA membership was raised to $12 a year. By the end of the year, COPA’s membership topped 6,000.

In 1967, as COPA celebrated 15 years of service to aviation, the country celebrated its 100th birthday.
Herb Cunningham joined the COPA Board of Directors beginning his first 34 years of service to the association. Mid-year in 1967, Frank Kennerly of Toronto succeeded Neil Armstrong as president of the COPA Board, a position he held until 1971. Ernie Antle of Vancouver became the 1st vice-president and Barry Graham of Montreal was appointed 2nd vice-president. John Bogie remained as secretary/treasurer.

The minute books of COPA director meetings grew thicker in the late 1960s as manager Bill Peppler represented the association to various government departments on behalf of general aviation.

COPA approached the Department of Transport and asked for a method of operating newly-imported aircraft under a temporary Certificate of Registration rather than waiting until it was processed and mailed.
It was also a COPA initiative that led to flight training becoming an acceptable educational tax deductible expense for income tax purposes.

COPA also worked with the Flying Farmers to launch the idea of using reflectors for night flying on private airstrips.

COPA Flights

The COPA Flights program started in 1964. By 1967, the Sudbury, Ont. COPA Flight became number 13, joining others in Guelph, Ont., Regina, Sask., Ottawa, Ont., Sarnia, Ont., Saskatoon, Sask. and Victoria, B.C. Today, there are well over 100 COPA Flights across the country.

Aviation growth

In 1967 there were 28,887 Canadian pilot licences in force, up from 25,742 the year before. There were 18,484 private pilots and 926 glider pilots. Also in 1967, there were 8,454 aircraft registered in Canada, an increase of 780 over the year. Of these, 8,057 aircraft were under 12,500-lb gross weight.

In 1970, COPA’s Convention and Annual General Meeting was held for the first time in western Canada. The Banff Springs Hotel was the site and the Banff, Alta. Airport was the destination. That year the board of directors voted to increase COPA membership fees to $15.

The COPA Convention in 1971 was held at Le Chateau Montebello, in Montebello, Que. At that meeting, Russ Beach was elected president of the Board of Directors, a position he held for more than 20 years.

At the 1972 AGM and Convention a wish list was drafted for presentation to the federal Department of Transport, then called the Ministry of Transport. The list included:

  • Airport windsocks should be standardized in colour and location. 
  • Pilots flying aircraft equipped with two-way radios should be encouraged to transmit their location in the circuit at uncontrolled airports on the appropriate Unicom frequency. 
  • The MoT should produce standard phraseology and radio telephone procedures for those broadcasting their flight intentions on Unicom frequencies. 
  • All airport circuits should be flown at 1,000 feet above ground. 
  • Diagrams of airport runways should be shown on sectional aeronautical charts whenever possible. 
  • The MoT should attempt to have common airport traffic procedures in Canada with those in the U.S. 
  • Pilots flying aircraft with landing lights should turn them on when on final approach to make them more conspicuous.

At the end of 1972, Russ Beach was nominated as a regional vice-president of the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (IAOPA).

In 1973, COPA’s directors approved the formation of the COPA Flight Safety Organization “to promote flight safety in the field of general aviation.” Funds were solicited from members and the first order of business for the organization was to create a monthly COPA Flight Safety Bulletin which continues to this day.

Throughout 1973 and 1974, COPA fought for the delay of the implementation of mandatory emergency locator transmitters for all Canadian aircraft on the basis that the ELT manufacturers did not have enough time to develop, test and produce the units for the Canadian specifications.

In 1978, the COPA Board of Directors launched an appeal to members to contribute to a trust fund that would be used to pay legal fees when COPA needed to take government agencies to court. Initially dubbed “Beach’s War Chest,” the fund was incorporated as the COPA Special Action Fund and is today called the Freedom to Fly Fund.
The 1978 COPA Annual Meeting was held in the Airport Hyatt House in Vancouver, B.C.
Ken Gamble was appointed to COPA’s Board of Directors as a representative of the Experimental Aircraft Association Canadian Council.

COPA’s highest honour at the time (1979), the AOPA Silver Tray was presented to John Bogie – COPA’s founding president, a long-time director, secretary/treasurer, convention chairman and vice-president (in that order) for his contributions to the association.

Issues of the day

In 1978, COPA kept its members informed during the exploding batteries fiasco involving emergency locator transmitters. That same year, COPA lobbied the Department of Transport to add 500 feet to the odd and even VFR cruising altitudes to provide better separation from IFR traffic and to conform to the regulations in the United States.

The COPA Board of Directors struggled with a government proposed seven cent a gallon tax on aviation gasoline. COPA president Russ Beach opposed the tax while other directors thought it was acceptable as long as the revenue was directed to a fund for aeronautical use which it was not.

In 1979, COPA proposed to the federal government that an independent aviation accident commission be established. Also that year, the board debated whether to support a Department of Communication’s proposal to split the VHF aeronautical communication frequencies into 25 kHz spacing.

In 1980, the Board of Directors were split on whether or not to support DoT proposals to increase the minimum hours required for a Private Pilot Licence from 35 and the introduction of mandatory transponders in certain terminal airspace.
The association opposed the closure of the general aviation gate at the Toronto Pearson International Airport and summer restrictions to VFR aircraft near the Vancouver Airport. The association also opposed a $5 landing fee at major DoT airports. COPA pointed out that it would cost more than $5 to collect the fee.

In 1981, COPA convinced the Department of Revenue to allow the deduction of aircraft costs as an expense when traveling on business. That same year, COPA formally complained to the RCMP about its practice of checking aircraft logbooks at airshows. The initiative was killing fly-in attendance at aviation events.

In 1982, the annual COPA membership fee was $23.

The realities of general aviation in the 1980s were an increase in costs and regulation. Mitigating both of these problems was (and is today) a major part of COPA’s mandate.

COPA accomplishments

During 1982 COPA began pursuing the possibility of Transport Canada allowing:

1. VFR flight “Over-the-Top” (It took 10 years).
2. Plain language weather terminology (Nav Canada instituted it in 2000).
3. The elimination of the aircraft radio licence fee. This was initiated when TC started requiring ELT certification in 1982. COPA asked that the Radio Licence fee be dropped as compensation (Industry Canada dropped the fee in 1997).
4. The reduction or elimination of Journey Logbook entries for private aircraft (The requirements were reduced in 1996).

In the early 1980s, COPA also became involved in the work to have the new silo removed from the end of the runway at Chatham, Ont. During the same time, COPA members in Toronto successfully opposed restrictions and fees on private aircraft flying into the Toronto Island Airport.

In 1984, All Canadian aircraft registered “CF-???” were to have their registration marks on the aircraft changed to “C-F???” according to a 10-year-old law. COPA feedback to TC resulted in an exemption that deferred the requirement to the aircraft’s next re-painting (Since then the new CARs allow certain aircraft to be re-painted and still keep their old “CF” registration. To qualify, your aircraft has to have carried a “CF” registration prior to January 1st, 1974 or be a vintage aircraft (“vintage aircraft” - means an aircraft that was manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 1957).

New safety initiatives

Three Ontario pilots flying in B.C. were in the first downed aircraft to be located by a new satellite system that picked up their ELT signal after they crashed in the fall of 1982.

The Dubin Inquiry, headed by the Honorable Mr. Justice Charles Dubin, released its 178 recommendations at the end of 1982. The inquiry followed the crash of a Boeing 737 in Cranbrook, B.C. One of the recommendations adopted was the creation of an accident investigation board that would be independent of TC. This led to the formation of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board.

In 1983 the Canadian Air Search and Rescue Association was launched. Up to then, civilian pilots had been involved in search missions and local search organizations had been formed. CASARA was a national, government-backed initiative to establish standards for training and searching and to organize search groups across the country. Today there are CASARA units in all provinces and territories.

As of Jan. 1, 1983, it was required to registered ultralight aircraft in Canada.

During 1983, Pete Arpin, director general of Civil Aviation had his own proposals:

1. All pilots will be required to maintain a personal logbook.
2. Flight time in an ultralight will not be credited toward a higher pilot licence.
3. The pilot recency requirement for five takeoffs and landings in the previous six months before carrying passengers was to be extended to day flying as well as night.
4. The Private Pilot Licence was to be extended to 45 hours, including five hours of instrument flying training.

Formation of the Civil Aviation Tribunal

The Civil Aviation Tribunal, now called the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC), is a quasi-judicial body proclaimed by Order in Council on June 1, 1986, following one of the recommendations of the Dubin Commission. The objective of the program was to provide the aviation community with the opportunity to have enforcement and licensing decisions of the Minister of Transport reviewed by an independent body. The first chairman of the Tribunal was COPA member Jim Snow. In 2011, the Tribunal celebrated its 25th anniversary.

On June 24, 1983, the 25,000th aircraft was registered in Canada (In 1967 the number was 8,000). Today there are 27,727 private aircraft registered on the Canadian registry and 6,955 commercial aircraft registered, bringing the total to more than 34,000 aircraft registered in Canada. Incidentally, the 25,000th aircraft was a Piper Super Cub that belonged to COPA member Rod Trenholm of Hope, B.C.

Family membership

In 1988, the COPA Family Membership was created. Initially the idea was to save the association money by sending one set of publications to several members living at the same address. That it did but it also proved to be a saving to households with more than one pilot flying a family airplane. The low-cost COPA liability insurance requires each pilot to be covered and to be a COPA member. The Family Membership qualifies.

Also in 1988, COPA started the ball rolling on reducing the propeller calendar maintenance requirements on private aircraft. Transport Canada was approached about the problem of five-year corrosion inspections on constant-speed propellers which were well below their hour-before-overhaul. Twelve years later, the five-year inspection requirement was changed to a 10-year overhaul.

The end of the 1980s was the period that the COPA Special Action Fund was brought to bear on the Longhurst case. This was a precedent setting case that, if lost, would have given municipalities and provinces jurisdiction over aerodromes. COPA backed the argument that aviation should remain a federal jurisdiction. The case was won and has been cited many times since when municipalities try to block or control airport development.

In 1989, the COPA Board of Directors voted to provide ten $300 Continuing Flight Training Scholarships to air cadets. This allowed cadets who had learned to fly under the military scholarship program to keep flying while still in school. The COPA Cadet Scholarships continued until the COPA Neil Armstrong Scholarships were launched.

In 1990, a biannual flight review for pilots was proposed by Transport Canada. This led to the pilot two-year recurrency program that is in place today.

Banff and Jasper

The Banff and Jasper airstrips started to appear regularly in the COPA director meetings minutes and the association’s publications in 1990. The grass airports were in Banff and Jasper parks. Parks Canada sought first, to restrict access to the strips, and then to close them. The battle continues today. A great deal of COPA staff, director and member time along with COPA Special Action Fund money has been invested to keep the two airports. The issue has local and national implications. The landing sites provide safe havens for general aviation pilots flying through the mountains as well as access to public parks. Saving the small strips also represents fairness in the use of public property.

Changes for COPA and aviation

In June 1992, Jean LeBarge, a COPA director representing Quebec, replaced Russ Beach as president of the COPA Board of Directors. That same year, COPA ended its sale of pilot supplies, recognizing that several companies had entered the business and were serving the industry well. V.I.P Pilot Centre signed on as the official supplier of the COPA collection of monogrammed apparel.
In 1993, John Bogie was declared an Honourary COPA Director and a COPA Life Member by the Board of Directors. Bogie was COPA’s first president and served on the board throughout the association’s first 50 years. His service to COPA still continued in 2012.

Canadian general aviation was introduced to the GPS satellite navigation system in 1993. Microwave Landing Systems were scheduled to become the replacement for the Instrument Landing System. That decision had been made before the Global Positioning System was placed in space. Also that year, Canada’s airspace classifications were changed to the present lettering system to coincide to a similar initiative in the United States.

A COPA publications committee headed by former COPA director John Stairs and the COPA editor of the time, Doris Ohlmann, studied upgrades to COPA’s publications in 1993. As a result of their recommendations, the quarterly COPA magazine, Canadian Flight, was changed into an annual directory for general aviation and COPA membership services, and renamed the Canadian Flight Annual.
COPA’s monthly newspaper was expanded to include some of the stories from the former magazine, the paper it was printed on was changed from all yellow to white and its name was changed from Canadian General News to Canadian Flight.

The changes ended the contributions of Art Macdonald to COPA. Macdonald produced COPA’s magazine from 1955 to 1994.

The first COPA newspaper to carry full colour photos and advertisements was the February 1995 issue. The changed required a switch to white newsprint from the signature COPA yellow.

In 1994 COPA joined the Young Eagles Program, initiated by the Experimental Aviation Association in United States. The program’s objective is to give an aviation experience, including a flight, to one million youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17 by the year 2003.

Tony Swain, COPA’s former director representing British Columbia and the Yukon, expanded COPA’s Award Program (There was one award at the time).
In 1995, COPA started the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Program to honour a special aviator. Neil Armstrong was a pilot, air service operator, COPA director, writer and friend. He died in a plane crash in 1994. In his memory COPA members and friends of Armstrong’s have donated funds that accumulated to over $100,000. Part of this money is awarded as Neil Armstrong Scholarships every year to help worthy young people with the cost of their flight training.

Transport Canada formalized a “New Recreational Aviation Policy” in 1996. This document detailed the need for a Recreational Pilot Permit, an Owner-maintenance Aircraft Category, expanded freedoms for ultralight aircraft and their pilots, expanded freedoms for amateur-built aircraft and their pilots, and a new Sportplane Category. Much of the initiative and input for these developments came from COPA and its members working in cooperation with other aviation associations and Transport Canada. By 2002, all of these changes were either in place or were being put in place except the Sportplane Category.

Kevin Psutka replaced long-time COPA manager Bill Peppler who retired in 1996. Psutka came to COPA from the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association bringing experience in general aviation, the air force, Transport Canada and the industry.
In 1998, the title “COPA President of the Board of Directors” was renamed “COPA Chairman.” The COPA Manager title was changed to President and CEO.

September 11, 2001

During the events following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, COPA was instrumental in coordinating the re-opening of airspace in Canada and the United States. Security agencies were busy handling the emergencies in their respective countries with insufficient coordination between countries. COPA’s President Kevin Psutka effectively provided valuable feedback to these agencies on both sides of the border. COPA’s website became the main source for information on trans-border flying for general aviation. The fall-out from those events continues to this day as additional aviation security measures are considered by several government agencies. COPA continues to represent the freedom of the individual to fly during consultation on these measures.

The past 10 years
The 50th Anniversary was officially celebrated during the COPA Convention in Red Deer, Alta. in June 2002. COPA’s then Publisher/Editor Garth Wallace retired and Michel Hell stepped in to fill the big shoes Garth left behind.

Later that year the monthly publication Canadian Flight became COPA Flight with design changes featuring more colour and larger photos. The Canadian Plane Trade classified section of COPA Flight underwent the same changes, featuring colour photo classified ads.
Printing Canadian Flight Annual magazine was discontinued. Contents from the magazine were place on COPA’s website and eventually all the information in the Annual blended in with the rest of website and any reference to the annual was discontinued.

In 2003 COPA’s group insurance plan offered new hangar liability coverage to current members.

It was considered boom times for private aviation in 2004 when the number of registered aircraft in Canada grew by nearly 500 aircraft. The majority of those were ultralights. Ultralights were the fastest growing aircraft segment in Canada from in 2004 and 2005. It’s still a strong contender today; second only to certified aircraft whose numbers have been growing the strongest every year since 2006.

Places to Fly underwent a 21st Century makeover in 2005. It was moved to the public side of the COPA website and is user-editable. Anyone can add updated information about any airport. COPA continues to encourage airport managers and/or owners to add their airport to Places to Fly and maintain the listing with updates on fuel prices, services, fees etc.

It was a busy year in 2006. The COPA Community Airport brochure was released.

COPA appealed Nav Canada’s pay-as-you-go $10 departure fee at seven major airports on top of the annual fee Nav Canada is charging aircraft owners.

A final public consultation period on the Banff and Jasper Airstrip Comprehensive Environment Assessment closed, resulting in the majority of respondents in favour of maintaining the airstrips for emergency and diversionary use.

The COPA Convention/AGM was held in Oshawa, Ont. at the Canadian Aviation Expo. COPA also hosted the 2006 IAOPA World Assembly in Toronto during the week leading up to the convention.

The federal government announces it will mandate the use of ethanol in all automobile gasoline by 2010. COPA responded to the feds announcement informing them on the negative impact ethanol will have on aviation and proposed a compromise solution that a non-ethanol fuel remain available. Currently some automobile fuel with a 91 octane rating remains ethanol-free.

Transport Canada approved a new licence format. Today a pilot licence looks like a Canadian passport with photo. The change was needed for security reasons.

In 2006 the number of COPA Flights grew to 116, and Places to Fly swelled to more than 600 airports posted.
COPA presented its new mission statement, “COPA protects personal aviation and promotes it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian community.”

Starting in 2007 Canadians arriving by airplane, including private aircraft, in the U.S. had to present a valid passport for entry. Another fallout from the 2001 terrorist attack.

Adam Hunt stepped down from his COPA job as, manager, member services and representation, for personal reasons. He continues to this day volunteering for COPA Flight 8 in Ottawa as their webmaster. Among many accomplishments at COPA, Adam helped grow the number of COPA Flights to over 100 across the country and Places to Fly swelled to more than 700 airports listed.

Later that year John Quarterman was hired as manager, member assistance and programs.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) was proposed for all general aviation aircraft operators entering or leaving the United States. COPA opposed the initial prosposal.

In 2008 the Special Action Fund was used once again to determine who had jurisdiction over airports; municipalities, the province or the federal government. This time the fund was hard at work in Quebec in the Laferriere-Gervais case where the Court of Appeal declared, only the federal authority has jurisdiction over airports. In a parallel judgement in which COPA also had intervenor status the court of appeal overturned a decision by the Quebec Superior Court. Although the issue in that case was different, the principles were the same and the same arguments were used to successfully overturn the previous decision. However, the opponents in both cases went on to petition the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal.

In March 2008 the new ICAO aviation language proficiency requirement went into effect around the world.

In June 2008 it was announced that the Gazette version on the 406 ELT regulations were delayed.
After much work by COPA’s John Quarterman it was determine most Canadian aircraft are exempt from Use Tax in Maine and Florida.

Due to liability issues COPA had to suspend Young Eagles flights but turned around and later launched its own program COPA For Kids.

Canada celebrates 100 years of aviation

On Feb. 23, 1909 the first powered flight occurred in Canada. In 2009 many events were held across the country to celebrate this 100 year milestone.

COPA appealed to members to donate to the Special Action Fund because it was going to the Supreme Court of Canada to fight an appeal by the Province of Quebec which challenged two decisions in Quebec that upheld exclusive federal jurisdiction over aeronautics.

Also in 2009 COPA succeeded in effecting important changes to the final rule of Electronic Manifest Requirements before the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency released the rule.

COPA For Kids aviation program was cleared for takeoff. Close to 2,000 kids were flown in 2009.

Transport Minister at the time, John Baird, agreed with COPA and rejected the proposed regulation to mandate 406 ELTs. The minister came to appreciate that the regulation as drafted prevents any available alternative from being acceptable. The 406 ELT rule as since been sitting in limbo.

Following a great amount of input and working closely with the Working Group in 2006 COPA learned in 2009 that Transport Canada agreed to lift weight and passenger number restrictions on non-certified amateur built fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The Ontario government’s newly created Green Energy Act threatens the safety of many aerodromes by allowing municipalities to place Wind Turbines close to these facilities. The issue has been difficult for aviation primarily because there is virtually no government guidance or regulation to prevent interference with the operation of thousands of certified, registered and non-registered aerodromes. Transport Canada will not prevent wind turbines from being installed. The fight continues.

On Oct. 17, 2009 COPA had its day in the Supreme Court of Canada. Supreme Court judges heard arguments both for and against the continuing concept that the federal government should have exclusive jurisdiction over aeronautics. The judges’ decision would take a year.

By the end of 2009 according to Transport Canada, the number of private pilot licenses and permits declined by 13 percent over the past number of years. Also the number of new licences and permits issued over the last three years has also declined. Declines in the U.S. have been seen for the past number of years, too. COPA and AOPA along with other aviation associations in North America started looking at ways to attract more people to fly.

In 2008 we found out COPA succeeded in keeping Banff and Jasper airstrips for emergency and diversionary use and for Jasper limited recreational use, but in 2010 (and even today) COPA was still waiting for Parks Canada to fully implement the government’s decision.

In the spring of 2010, the COPA Flight newspaper became available to members in digital format. The computer programs available to do this haven’t been perfected yet, but the big advantage is you can read COPA Flight almost anywhere in the world where there’s computer and Internet access.

On Oct. 15, 2010 COPA learns it won the Supreme Court of Canada case. The judges agreed exclusive jurisdiction over aeronautics should be left in the federal government’s hands.

Despite this big win, in 2011 the one of the biggest challenges we are facing now and in the foreseeable future is the threatened closure of airports. City Centre Airport in Edmonton and Buttonville Airport in Toronto are two examples. COPA is attempting to educate elected officials on why these airports are important to their communities.

Another threat to GA is security. A Commission of Inquiry into the bombing of Air India Flight 182 said all passengers boarding flights at FBOs and GA facilities that feed into designated airports or are attached to designated airports should be screened at the same level as those flying on scheduled commercial flights. COPA is doing its best to work through this security challenge.

In the summer of 2011 COPA entered into a relationship with Magnes Group Inc. as our new aviation insurance broker and revamped our insurance program for the betterment of our members. The new VIP Aviation Insurance Program went into effect on August 31.

As of December 2011 nothing has changed regarding the 406 ELT. The draft regulation has still not become law.

General aviation has faced many challenges over the past 60 years. Issues bubble to the surface, such as airspace changes and security restrictions, and we win, in the sense that we deal with them as best we can to maximize our freedoms to fly. COPA looks forward to defending your freedom to fly for another 60 years and beyond.

During 2002, COPA’s 50th anniversary year, then Editor/Publisher Garth Wallace wrote a series of 10 articles detailing the history of COPA. The articles were very well received and informed many newer COPA members about the association’s long and illustrious history. By popular demand Wallace’s series of articles are now available on the COPA Web site. This is a great way for COPA members to learn more about their association.



1952 - 1957

1957 - 1962

1962 - 1967

1967 - 1972

1972 - 1977


1977 - 1982

1982 - 1988

1988 - 1992

1992 - 1997

1997 - 2002


For a downloadable version of COPA's history - click here (pdf version)