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Big changes for COPA and aviation: 1992 to 1997


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

In June 1992, Jean LeBarge, a COPA director representing Quebec, replaced Russ Beach as president of the COPA Board of Directors. That same year, COPA ended its sale of pilot supplies, recognizing that several companies had entered the business and were serving the industry well. V.I.P Pilot Centre signed on as the official supplier of the COPA collection of monogrammed apparel.

In 1993, John Bogie was declared an Honourary COPA Director and a COPA Life Member by the Board of Directors. Bogie was COPA’s first president and served on the board throughout the association’s first 50 years. His service to COPA continues. In the 50th anniversary year, Bogie is on the scrutineering committee counting ballots in the COPA director elections.

Canadian general aviation was introduced to the GPS satellite navigation system in 1993. Microwave Landing Systems were scheduled to become the replacement for the Instrument Landing System. That decision had been made before the Global Positioning System was placed in space. Also that year, Canada’s airspace classifications were changed to the present lettering system to coincide to a similar initiative in the United States.

In 1994 the COPA Fall Rendezvous moved from its longtime venue in St. Jovite, Que. to the Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville, Ont. That same year COPA joined the Young Eagles Program, initiated by the Experimental Aviation Association in United States. The program’s objective is to give an aviation experience, including a flight, to one million youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17 by the year 2003.

Tony Swain, COPA’s irrepressible director representing British Columbia and the Yukon, expanded COPA’s Award Program. (There was one award at the time.) Thanks to Tony, COPA now has a award categories that recognize all levels of contributions to general aviation.

Transport Canada formalized a “New Recreational Aviation Policy” in 1996. This document detailed the need for a Recreational Pilot Permit, an Owner-maintenance Aircraft Category, expanded freedoms for ultralight aircraft and their pilots, expanded freedoms for amateur-built aircraft and their pilots, and a new Sportplane Category. Much of the initiative and input for these developments came from COPA and its members working in cooperation with other aviation associations and Transport Canada. By 2002, all of these changes were either in place or were being put in place except the last one.


A COPA publications committee, headed by former COPA director John Stairs and the COPA editor of the time, Doris Ohlmann, studied upgrades to COPA’s publications in 1993. As a result of their recommendations, the quarterly COPA magazine, Canadian Flight, was changed into an annual directory for general aviation and COPA membership services, and renamed the Canadian Flight Annual. COPA’s monthly newspaper was expanded to include some of the stories from the former magazine, the paper it was printed on was changed from all yellow to white and its name was changed from Canadian General News to Canadian Flight.

The changes ended the contributions of Art Macdonald to COPA. Macdonald produced COPA’s magazine from 1955 to 1994.



In 1994, the first Canadian
Flight Annual directory
was sent to COPA members.








The first COPA newspaper to carry full colour photos and advertisements was the February 1995 issue. The changed required a switch to white newsprint from the signature COPA yellow.





Executive Committee
President – Jim Snow
Past president – Harold Butler
Eastern vice-president – Brian Chappell
Western vice-president – Ken McNeill
Secretary/treasurer – Herb Cunningham

Elected directors
Ken Armstrong
Francois Bougie
John Davidson
Frank Hofmann
John Lockhart
Lary Loretto
Gordon Oswald
Rick Sauter
Tony Swain

Appointed directors
Ken Gamble (RAAC)
Gerry Holmes (Flying farmers)
Dan Cornell (CSPA)
Anne Starret (99s)
Rem Walker (EAAC)

Honourary director
John Bogie

AOPA Silver Tray Award winners

COPA’s highest award, the AOPA Silver Tray Award was presented to the following between 1992 and 1997.

1993 – Bob and Don Gordon
1994 – Sandy A.F. MacDonald
1995 – William Lishman
1996 – Bill Peppler
1997 – “Gogi” Goguillot

COPA Conventions and Annual General Meetings

1993 – Penticton, B.C.
1994 – Summerside, P.E.I.
1995 – Winnipeg, Man.
1996 – Hamilton, Ont.
1997 – Summerside, P.E.I.


Jean LeBarge, COPA president in 1992.

Photo courtesy COPA archives









In 1995, COPA started the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Program to honour a special aviator. Neil Armstrong was a pilot, air service operator, COPA director, writer and friend. He died in a plane crash in 1994. In his memory COPA members and friends of Armstrong’s have donated funds that accumulated to over $100,000. Part of this money is awarded as Neil Armstrong Scholarships every year to help worthy young people with the cost of their flight training.






Harold Butler, (left) COPA president from 1993 to 1996, presents COPA’s highest award, The AOPA Silver Tray to Bill Peppler. Peppler was manager of COPA from 1957 to 1996.

Photo courtesy Garth Wallace, COPA









Kevin Psutka replaced longtime COPA manager Bill Peppler who retired in 1996. Psutka came to COPA from the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association bringing experience in general aviation, the air force, Transport Canada and the industry. In 1998, the title “COPA President of the Board of Directors” was renamed “COPA Chairman.” The COPA Manager title was changed to President and CEO.

Photo courtesy Garth Wallace, COPA







In 1997, COPA began holding annual Recognition Dinners in Toronto, Ont. to show appreciation for long service to aviation. The first dinner, organized by COPA director Herb Cunningham, honoured Leavens Aviation. In this photo, Jim Snow (left) the COPA president of the time, presents a plaque to the third generation company president, Jeff Leavens (right). Looking on are the second generation Leavens brothers (left to right: Chuck, Doug and Bob Leavens).

Photo courtesy Garth Wallace, COPA