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COPA grows: 1962 to 1967


This is the third of a series of articles, “Looking back” at the history of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association in five-year increments.

In 1962, COPA’s Annual General Meeting was held at the Muskoka Sands Inn, Gravenhurst, Ont., September 14-16. The 300 attendees heard banquet guest speaker Ed King, president of King Radio, talk about the up-coming requirement for communication radios to operate on a 100-KHz split. Doug Wagner announced that he would not seek re-election as COPA’s president of the Board of Directors. Del Bokin was elected to take his place, William Sanderson was elected vice-president and John Bogie was re-elected as secretary/treasurer. By 1962, there were also 20 members of the COPA Board of Directors representing the members from across Canada.

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.

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.
In 1962 COPA was working with the Department of Transport to have the maximum weight of a homebuilt aircraft increased from 1,200 lb to 1,750. The association also appealed to the government not to be too hasty it its conversion of radio ranges to non-directional beacons as very few of Canada’s aircraft were equipped with automatic direction finders.

On September 2, 1962, all Canadian civil aircraft in North America were grounded from 15:00Z to 00:30Z for defence exercise Skyshield III.

In 1963, COPA’s Annual Meeting was held in Kingston, Ont. in August. 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 v-p.

In 1964, COPA’s Annual Meeting moved back to Gray Rocks Inn in St. Jovite, Que. (where it was also held in 1965 and 1966). Neil Armstrong served as COPA president for the next three years. 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. COPA staff member Joyce Else summed up the celebrations in her column in Canadian Flight called, “At your service.” “Well, I have seen the queen, been to Expo, danced in a gymnasium full of mosquitoes and eaten enough barbecued buffalo to feel sorry for the animal. In short, I am a fully-accredited centennial celebrant.”


Russ Beach

An energetic businessman from Smiths Falls, Ont., was elected to the COPA Board of Directors in 1965. Russ Beach was to figure prominently in COPA affairs over the next 30 years. 





COPA Directors 1966

COPA’s Board of Directors in 1966 included an executive, national directors and provincial directors:

COPA Executive Committee
Neil Armstrong – president
Ernie Antle – 1st vice-president
Frank Kennerly – 2nd vice-president
John Bogie – secretary/treasurer
Del Bodkin – past president

National Directors
Len Ariss
Margaret Carson
Barry Graham
Al Ludford
Carl Millard
Erik Nielsen
Varno Westersund
Oscar Wild

Provincial Directors
Ernie Antle
Russ Beach
J.T. Coombs
Roy Moore
Jean Moreau
J. A. Rioux
Lloyd Ryder
Wayne Squires
R. D. S. Ward

COPA Manager
Bill Peppler


Neil Armstrong

Calgary pilot Neil Armstrong served as COPA president from 1964 to 1967. The Neil Armstrong Scholarship was established by COPA following his death in 1994.
Photo courtesy COPA archives





COPA Newsletter

From its inception, COPA has provided its members with information through publications. A monthly AOPA Canadian Newsletter was mailed to members starting in April 1953. By July of that year, it was renamed the COPA Canadian Newsletter. Initially the newsletter was printed on white paper. From 1955, blue paper was used. When the Canadian General Aviation News newspaper was launched in 1964, the COPA Canadian Newsletter was inserted separately. In 1980, the “blue sheet” was renamed COPA Newsletter. In 1995, the newsletter was incorporated into the newspaper where it remains today. The current blue header of the COPA Newsletter commemorates the old blue sheet and COPA’s continued commitment to keeping its members up-to-date on the latest events affecting their flying.




Canadian Flight

COPA continued to publish Canadian Flight, a first-class bi-monthly aviation magazine. The December 1962 edition featured a picture of the RCAF Golden Hawks flying over Niagara Falls on the front cover. Inside, in the “Up and Coming” section: Trans Canada Airlines retired the last of its Lockheed Super Constellations in favour of Douglas DC-8s. American President John F. Kennedy officially opened Washington’s new Dulles International Airport. The Air Transport Association of Canada held its first Annual Meeting in Montebello, Que. Weldy Phipps was presented with the McKee Trophy for his pioneering work in Arctic flying. In the “Classified Advertising” section, the Kingston Flying Club was selling its Fleet 80 Canucks for $2,995 each. A Harvard Mark II in Trois Rivieres was listed for sale for $3,500.





Cessna 205
In 1962, Cessna introduced a
new, single-engine
six-place airplane
called the Cessna 205.

Bensen Aircraft
introduced a
two-seat, instruction
version of its