COPA grows: 1967 to 1972


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



The Cessna Cardinal was
introduced in 1967 with
a 150-hp engine.
Photo courtesy
Cessna Aircraft


The Arrow was Piper’s latest
single-engine design. The
180-hp retractable-geared
four-seater cruised two mph
faster than the 180-hp
Comanche at 75 per cent
power and was cheaper for
Piper to produce.
Photo courtesy Piper Aircraft


The Concorde first flew on
March 2, 1969. The
supersonic airliner was
produced jointly by British
Aircraft Corporation and
Aerospatiale. The
four-engined airplane
could carry up to 128
economy passengers at
speeds up to Mach 2.02
(1,176 kts) at 51,000 feet.


In the 1967, Tom Williams
was honoured by COPA
for his contributions
to aviation.
Photo courtesy
COPA archives



The May/June 1969 cover of COPA’s Canadian Flight magazine celebrated COPA’s involvement with the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations. The cover photo was of two staff members from the Swedish AOPA.








In 1967, current COPA Chairman 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 a COPA initiative that led to flying training becoming an acceptable educational tax deductible expense for income tax purposes. COPA worked with the Flying Farmers to launch the idea of using reflectors for night flying on private airstrips.


The COPA Flights program, started in 1964, began to grow. 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, the latest COPA Flight is number 94 in Earlton, Ont. Over 70 of the original Flights are still active.


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.


The Oct/Nov 1967 issue of Canadian Flight contained an article about the new Cessna 177 Cardinal, “a new series of low-cost, four-place aircraft” that had been added to the Cessna family. The suggested list price of the 150-hp Cessna 177 was $12,995 fob Wichita, Kans. The Cardinal was the deluxe model of the same airplane and sold for $14,500. Al MacNutt, whose book Altimeter Rising was reviewed in the August 2001 issue of Canadian Flight, wrote an article on flight planning for corporate jet flights. The magazine carried a picture of Tom Williams being presented with COPA’s highest award, the AOPA Silver Tray. At 82, Williams was on his way to becoming Canada’s oldest active pilot. Toronto pilot Heather Sifton wrote a column called “Notes from the Nintey-nines.”

An advertisement for Piper distributor Trans Aircraft introduced the Piper Cherokee Arrow, a new retractable-gear, single-engine aircraft that promised to deliver a 162-mph cruise with a 180-hp engine.

In the news, the Canadian Armed Forces ordered 10 Iroquois helicopters from Bell Helicopters. Air Canada purchased four DC-9 32s from Douglas Aircraft. Archie Van Hee was presented with an award by the B.C. Aviation Council for his excellence in IFR training. It was reported that Rockwell-Standard sold its executive jet aircraft business to Israel Aircraft Industries. Ted Smith Aircraft broke ground for a production facility to manufacture the Aerostar. In the magazine’s classified advertisements, COPA member and current advertiser Ed Peck was selling a Heath Parsol homebuilt “less engine and wheels” for $250.00. The engine was available for another $175.

A new column named “Tail Heavy” appeared in the back of Canadian Flight for the first time in this issue. The folksy aeronautical ramblings, advice and stories of the COPA family were written by COPA Past-president Neil Armstrong. The column became much loved by COPA members and continued as a regular feature until Armstrong’s death in 1994.

AOPA Silver Tray Award Winners 1963 to 1972

1963 – Varno Westersund
1964 – R.W. Goodwin
1965 – R.N. McCollum
1966 – G.R. Bourne, MD
1967 – Tom Williams
1968 – Robert Purves
1969 – Canadian Chapters International Flying Farmers
1970 – Abbotsford Flying Club
1971 – Herb Cunningham
1972 – Jerry Pringle

COPA Board of Directors for 1971

Executive directors
Russ Beach – president
Ernie Antle – vice-president
Barry Graham – vice-president
Varno Westersund – vice-president
John Bogie – secretary/treas.

Neil Armstrong
Len Ariss
Willard Bishop
Margaret Carson
Herb Cunningham
Edith Denny
Alan Frosst
Frank Kennerly
Ed Knox
Jean Moreau
Oscar Wild

Bill Peppler