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25 years and counting: 1978 to 1982


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



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. In 1978, 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.

In 1979, COPA proposed to the federal government that an independent aviation accident commission be established. 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 Manager Bill Peppler 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 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.


During the 1970s and 80s, COPA published an Annual Aviation Directory, either as part of the monthly newspaper, Canadian General Aviation News, and or in magazine format as an edition of Canadian Flight. During that time the association sold aeronautical charts, aviation books, and other pilot supplies which were listed in the directory. Pictured is a 1970s directory edition of Canadian Flight. In it, the one-sided Canadian sectional charts were selling for $1.00. “From the Ground Up” listed for $6.95. There was no GST.

The annual directory was the forerunner of the Canadian Flight Annual that is part of the COPA membership benefits today. In the 1980s, the directory listed accommodation and car rental discounts for COPA members, the COPA Flights (the number of Flights hit 30 in 1980 with number 30 being Thunder Bay, Ont.) and information on the Airports of Entry in Canada and the United States. Other aviation associations were also listed along with all the flying schools in Canada. The emerging ultralight industry was covered by a list of ultralight manufacturers, dealers and schools. Included in that list was National Ultralight, the current Challenger Distributor and COPA advertiser based in Hudson Heights, Que.



Canadian aviation in the five years between 1978 and 1982 saw the emergence of the ultralight industry (initially called “microlights”). There were 75 ultralight flying schools in Canada by 1982. The majority of them operated Lazairs, a twin-engine design built in Port Colbourne, Ont. by Dale Kramer. Kramer is pictured here flying along the shores of Lake Erie with his wife.

Photo courtesy COPA archives





Camp Borden, Ont., north of Toronto, was the original site of the COPA Spring Safety Seminars. In 1998, the popular venue was moved to Hanover, Ont. and renamed “COPA Rust Removers.” In 2000, the seminars began to expand across Canada. Check out COPA’s “On the Horizon” calendar of events published in the back of this newspaper every month for the upcoming Rust Removers in your area.

Photo courtesy COPA archives



In the 1970s, COPA teamed up with insurance brokers Donald Miller (left) and Frank Bray to create COPA Aviation Group Insurance Plans. The plans saved members money and provided coverage such as pilot life insurance and ultralight insurance that were otherwise difficult to obtain. The initial COPA “GALIP” insurance (Group Aviation Liability Insurance) offered COPA members $100,000 liability coverage for as little as $25. Another $25 bought $50,000 worth of passenger liability coverage. Bray continued with the COPA group insurance plans when his brokerage was acquired by Segwick. He retired in 1998 when Marsh Canada bought out Sedwick. For 2002, Marsh has revamped the COPA aviation plans to serve our members even better. A tear-out information sheet appears elsewhere in this newspaper.

Photo courtesy COPA archives

COPA Board of Directors 1980/81

Len Ariss, Guelph, Ont.
Bill Atrill, Pierrefonds, Que.
Russ Beach, Smiths Falls, Ont.
John Bogie, Ottawa, Ont.
Margaret Carson, Ottawa, Ont.
Bill Clark, Toronto, Ont.
Herb Cunningham, Scarborough, Ont.
Milt Farrow, Oakville, Ont.
Garry Hess, London, Ont.

Neil Armstrong, Calgary, Alta.
Jerry Beaudet, Cap Rouge, Que.
Stan Cassidy, Fredericton, N.B.
Don Fonger, Winnipeg, Man.
Walter Isenor, Charlottetown, PEI
Jack Langmuir, Brockville, Ont.
Ole Lobert, Hay River, NWT
Cyril Pelley, Springdale, Nfld.
Sandy Reeves, Sydney, N.S.
Lloyd Ryder, Whitehorse, YT
Betty Wadsworth, Victoria, B.C.
Rem Walker, Regina, Sask.

Charles Burbank, Flying Farmers
Ken Gamble, EAA
Rosella Bjornson, 99s

COPA Annual General Meeting and Convention
1978 – Vancouver, B.C.
1979 – Ottawa, Ont.
1980 – Winnipeg, Man.
1981 – Moncton, N.B.
1982 – Jasper, Alta.

AOPA Silver Tray Award winners

COPA’s highest honour, the AOPA Silver Tray was presented to the following between 1978 and 1982:

1979 – John Bogie – COPA’s founding president, a long-time director, secretary/treasurer, convention chairman and vice-president (in that order) was finally recognized for his contributions to the association.
1980 – Alan Frosst – Frosst was also a long-time COPA director from Hamilton, Ont. and contributing writer to Canadian Flight.
1981 – Donald McClure – McClure was the manager of the Moncton Flying Club which became an international-known flight training base under his leadership.
1982 – Charles Burbank – An airline pilot, a Flying Farmer director and COPA director, Burbank represented general aviation in the Toronto area.

COPA Logos


Through the years, there were attempts to stylize the COPA wings but they didn’t stick. The current wings are the same as the original except for the removal of the curls at the ends of the banner proclaiming that this is the, “Canadian Owners and Pilots Association.” COPA Wings lapel pins are mailed out to all new members. Members renewing are sent copies of the wings as decals, which are available either with the adhesive on the back or on the front (for inside windows). These are also free for the asking. Contact COPA headquarters. COPA members renewing this year also receive the “50th Anniversary” logo as a colourful refrigerator magnet. Display your COPA logo proudly as a supporter of the freedom to fly in Canada.