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Changing times for aviation: 1982 to 1988


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

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

At COPA’s 1982 Convention, the following members of the Board of Directors were elected to the COPA Executive Committee:

President: Russ Beach
Vice-president East: Bill Atrill
Vice-president West: Don Fonger
Secretary/Treasurer: Doug Irving

It was the beginning of Russ Beach’s second decade as president. John Bogie declined to stand as secretary/treasurer again. He had served on the Executive Committee almost continuously since 1952. He remained on the board.


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

1. VFR flight “Over-the-Top.” (It took ten 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 ten-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 January 1, 1957.)


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 January 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.


The Civil Aviation Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body proclaimed by Order in Council on June 1st, 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. “CAT case reviews” that are instructive to general aviation are published in COPA’s newspaper. In 2001, the Tribunal celebrated its 15th anniversary.


In the early 1980s, founding director Margaret Carson retired from COPA’s Board of Directors after 30 years and moved to Florida. In 1986, COPA created the position of Honourary Director. Carson was the first person to be appointed a COPA Honourary Director, “In recognition of her dedication and tireless efforts to bring COPA into existence and make it into a vibrant organization.”



The COPA Flight Safety Bulletin was printed on a separate sheet and inserted in the monthly mailing to COPA members from 1967 until 1974 when it was incorporated into COPA’s newspaper.

The articles in the February 1985 issue included tips on winter flying, the benefits and drawbacks of caffeine, “Getting caught on top,” and “Flying like you feel.”






In 1983, construction began on Phase I of Canada’s National Aviation Museum at the Ottawa Rockcliffe Airport, (Now called “Canada’s Aviation Museum). (Phase 2 construction was announced in 2001.)







The rapid increase in the number of aircraft coming into Canada during the 1970s ended in 1980. On June 24, 1983, the 25,000th aircraft was registered in Canada. (In 1967, the number was 8,000.) Today there are 28,000 aircraft on the Canadian registry. Incidentally, the 25,000th aircraft was a Piper Super Cub that belonged to COPA member Rod Trenholm of Hope, B.C.



Jim Snow

Jim Snow (right) takes delivery of a Twin Otter on behalf of the Ontario government from de Havilland President Russell Bannock. At the time, Snow was Ontario’s Minister of Transport. He is credited with increasing the aviation infrastructure in the province. He went on to become the first chairman of the Civil Aviation Tribunal and later a COPA director and president.

Photo courtesy de Havilland Aircraft



AOPA Silver Tray Award winners

COPA’s highest award, the AOPA Silver Tray Award was presented to the following between 1982 and 1988.

1983: EAAC Technical Committee – helpers for the aircraft hombuilder.
1984: W.J. (Bill) Watts – longtime COPA member from Calgary, Alta.
1985: Bill McVean – Toronto-based radio broadcaster, pilot and aircraft homebuilder.
1986: Gordon Sinclair – Flying Farmer advocate.
1987: Dr. Gerald F. Marsters

COPA Conventions and Annual General Meetings

1982 – Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alta.
1983 – Minaki Lodge, Minaki, Ont.
1984 – Delta Lakeside Hotel, Penticton, B.C.
1985 – Algonquin Hotel, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, N.B.
1986 – Ramada Renaissance Hotel, Saskatoon, Sask.

COPA Board of Directors – 1986

Executive directors
Russ Beach, President
John Lockhart, Vice-President

Neil Armstrong
Jerry Beaudet
John Bogie
Charles Burbank
Brian Chappell
Herb Cunningham
Douglas Dale
Hetty Dekeyzer
Milt Farrow
Don Fonger
Ken Gamble
Manfred Humphries
Doug Irving
David Malcom
Eric Mold
Cecil Palmer
Steve Sherriff
Lilian Varcoe

Bill Peppler