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Changing of the guard: 1988 to 1992


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

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 ten-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.



In the May 1988 issue of COPA’s monthly newspaper, Canadian General Aviation News, the Canadian Forces Canadair-built T-33 celebrated 40 years of operations. (They would go over 50.) The Boeing 737 design turned 20 years old. Piper Aircraft Corp. announced that it was offering a kit for the Super Cub. The price was $21,095 U.S. less engine and prop. Alberta was set to host the World Aerobatic Championships in Red Deer. Dave Loveman wrote ultralight coverage of the Canadian-built, twin-engine, two-seat Toucan.

Familiar columnists in that issue of CGAN included Bob Merrick, “ELT Commentary,” “Brown’s circuit,” airshow coverage by Derek Brown, “Rem’s report,” homebuider news by Rem Walker, and “Bits and Pieces” by Ken Armstrong,
Familiar advertisers included Avemco Insurance, Canadian Aero Engines, Orillia Aviation, Murphy Aircraft, Full Lotus, and Leggat Aviation.

The COPA Flights list top 33 with the Arnprior, Ont. COPA Flight being the latest. Wilf Schwartz was listed as the captain. He still is.

In Canadian Plane Trade, a 1941 Piper J3 Cub with dual fuel, skis and engine cover was listed for $9,900. A Seabee with 1,260 TT on it and in current C of A was selling for $25,000, firm.


Renegade II

In 1988, Murphy Aircraft of Chilliwack, B.C. was advertising its single-seat Renegade Spirit and two-place Renegade II biplane ultralights. The design, stressed for up to 10 gs, proved that ultralights didn’t have to look like powered hang gliders.

Photo courtesy Murphy Aircraft




At COPA’s 1988 Convention, the following members of the Board of Directors were elected to the COPA Executive Committee:
President: Russ Beach
Eastern Vice-president: John Lockhart
Western Vice-president: Lillian Varcoe
Secretary/Treasurer: Doug Irving
Manager: Bill Peppler
There were 25 elected and appointed directors from across Canada.

Five years later, Russ Beach’s more than 20-year reign as president ended and the number of directors was reduced to 18.

Elections in 1992 produced the following slate:
President: Jean LeBarge
Eastern Vice-president: Harold Butler
Western Vice-president: Margaret Glover
Secretary: George McNutt
Treasurer: Jim Snow
Brian Chappell
Herb Cunningham
Ken Gamble
Frank Hofmann
Bob Ivey
John Lockhart
Gretchen Matheson
Ken McNeill
Gordon Oswald
Richard Ross
Rem Walker
John Williams

Manager: Bill Peppler

AOPA Silver Tray Award winners

COPA’s highest award, the AOPA Silver Tray Award was presented to the following between 1988 and 1992.

1988 – Ted Slack, Canadian Aerosport Technical Committee
1989 – Michael Sifton, Owner and operator of the Toronto Buttonville Airport
1990 – Harold Butler, COPA director representing Newfoundland and Labrador
1991 – James Snow, founding chairman of the Civil Aviation Tribunal
1992 – Ken Gamble, COPA director representing the RAA


Ted Slack

Ted Slack (left) was the 1988 winner of COPA’s highest award, the AOPA Silver Tray. Slack did a lot of work in the development of the current recreation aircraft categories and pilot permits. In the photo, Slack is being presented with the award by AOPA Senior Vice-president Richard Collins.

Photo courtesy COPA archives



COPA Conventions and Annual General Meetings

1988 – Delta Lakeside Hotel, Penticton, B.C.
1989 – Royalty Inn, Charlottetown, PEI
1990 – Skyline Hotel, Ottawa, Ont.
1991 – Edmonton Inn, Edmonton, Alta.
1992 – Le Chateau Bromont, Bromont, Que.


Banff and Jasper

Where do you land here? 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.
Photo courtesy COPA archives