Give Hope Wings Expeditions

— By Phil Lightstone (Photos: Ed Johnston)

During 2023, Hope Air has launched a program called Give Hope Wings with three unique expeditions focused on Western Canada, the Prairies and Eastern Canada. Give Hope Wings’ goal is to raise funds and awareness for Hope Air. The expeditions stop in large urban airports, Hope Air patient communities and hallmark aviation communities. Highlights will include aerial views of some of Canada’s most unique aviation sights, connections to Hope Air patients along the way and community events in both urban and rural settings.

The week of June 5, 2023, saw the execution of Hope Air’s Give Hope Wings Eastern Expedition. The expedition had 20 people participating with 13 aircraft, 17 pilots and three non-pilot passengers. Additional fundraising activities leading up to the expedition were conducted at Brantford (CYFD), St Thomas (CYQS) and Chatham-Kent (CYCK) airports with fly-in BBQs. The three BBQs raised over $18,000 in donations. Supporting Hope Air, the Brantford fly-in had 60 aircraft, 200 attendees and 18 volunteers attend the event.

The Eastern Expedition’s plans were changing on a daily basis based upon the smoke from Ontario and Quebec forest fires, reducing visibility to near IMC levels. Ed Johnston, one of the Eastern Expedition Leaders reports: “With a high degree of airmanship and collaboration, the flying became more challenging as the Expedition moved further east, with visibility coming down.

“With pilot and aircraft safety as one of our primary concerns, two VFR pilots stopped around Sudbury due to low visibility caused by smoke,” continued Johnston. “However, one VFR pilot made it all the way to Gatineau QB [CYND].”

With a low-pressure system sitting over Eastern Canada, including icing as low as 3,000 feet, the decision was made while at Gatineau to remove the Maritimes from the route due to inclement weather. A wise decision was made to put the Expedition on pause, wrapping up with a leg from home bases to Kingston for the finale before proceeding home.

One of the outcomes of the smoke generated from the forest fires was a fine ash which coated the aircraft. The pilots were concerned about their engines ingesting the ash and impacting the longevity of their aircraft if not causing the engine to fail during flight. These concerns caused them to adjust their routes to avoid the smoke with a goal of ensuring that they spent no more than one hour in the smoke and reduced visibility. Apparently, the aircraft will require a good washing once home.

Organized receptions were held in Goderich (CYGD), Sudbury (CYSB) and Kingston (CYGK). At Sudbury, three levels of government attended the BBQ at the airport. The support and hospitality of the aviation community, local community and governments contributed to an air of collaboration contributing to the fund-raising activities.

It has been reported that COPA Flight 45 at Goderich put on an unbelievable BBQ. In Kingston, the reception dinner was held at Milestones restaurant at the old S&R Department Store, which itself is a historic limestone building. The dinner reception BBQ was held in Northern Aviation’s hangar. At each stop, roughly 60 to 70 people would participate at the event. The events at Sudbury and Goderich generated just over $10,000 in donations.

Give Hope Wings 2023 continued to Western Canada between June 10 to 18 and the Prairies June 18 to 23. Checkout their website at for further information, inclusive of community event details.

Erickson Airport paving project to take off this summer

— By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun (Image: Wikipedia)

After a long haul of fundraising, the Erickson Airport’s paving project will soon be under way, making flying in and out of the community safer and more efficient. The Council of the Municipality of Clanwilliam-Erickson, located 80 kilometres north of Brandon, Manitoba, has approved a construction contract with Maple Leaf Construction out of Winnipeg.

The airport is a key transportation hub in the community, which serves residents, businesses and visitors of Clanwilliam-Erickson and the entire region, the municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer Iain Edye says. The airport also facilitates economic growth, tourism and emergency services like the Shock and Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

The project was identified as a priority by the municipal council of Clanwilliam-Erickson in 2018, after a pavement condition assessment showed that all paved surfaces were approaching failure, and aircraft were at risk of being damaged.

As the Sun previously reported, the Erickson Flying Club has been doing everything possible to maintain the runway, member Barry Sloane said, but loose stones and cracks have become a safety hazard to landing aircraft. The runway was last paved in the 1980s, Sloane previously told the Sun.

“It’s pretty rough. It’s like driving over a rough road,” he said. “The danger with stones is foreign object damage and propellers [getting] damaged.”

Having a paved surface is much better for aircraft, specifically for takeoff and landing, said Dave Creighton, chief executive officer of the Brandon Flight Centre. Pilots often fly from Brandon to Erickson, he added.

“With a paved surface, you don’t have the possibility of any kind of hills popping up and [affecting] the control you have when you’re in that critical phase of flight,” Creighton said. “If you’re on a gravel runway or anything of that nature, it’s harder on the plane, harder on the propeller.”

The municipality received a grant from the federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) in 2021, totaling 93.3 per cent of an initial project budget of $1,417,565, with the remaining 6.7 per cent to be paid by municipal borrowing. The municipality tendered the project in the fall of 2022, and the low bid was $2.28 million. Without additional funding available, the municipality proposed to reduce costs by shortening the runway and removing the taxiway and apron from the project. Rather than accept the reduced scope, the contractor opted to withdraw their bid, and the municipality was forced to re-tender the project in the winter of 2023, Edye said.

Recently, the federal government informed the municipality that ICIP projects across the country were finding it impossible to proceed in this time of inflation. The Municipality was informed that they could now use the Canada Community Building Fund (CCBF, formerly known as the gas tax fund) to increase the federal contribution above and beyond the amount in the ICIP grant.

The flexibility offered through the federal funding has allowed the municipal council to move ahead with the project even in the “face of adversity,” Clanwilliam-Erickson Mayor Victor Baraniuk said.

“Infrastructure improvements like this are never free, but without being able to use the CCBF money, it would have been completely unaffordable, and that would have meant wasting the once-in-a-lifetime ICIP grant.”

T28 Trojans Fly-In

— Text and photos by Gus and Clara Corujo

The T-28 Trojan Fly-In training, scheduled from June 15 to June 17, proved to be a resolute and captivating event despite initial setbacks. The Brantford Formation Clinic, originally planned from June 14 to 18, had to be cancelled due to a shortage of avgas. However, the organizers of the T-28 Trojan Fly-In demonstrated their determination and decided to proceed with the event.

Pilots of T-28 Trojan aircraft gathered at Tillsonburg Airport and a private field in Fort Erie, Ontario, for this exclusive training opportunity. The primary focus of the fly-in was to provide pilots with specialized formation training and facilitate the development of their skills.

Before and after each flight, pilots received comprehensive briefings and debriefings. The nature of this type of flying demanded a high level of expertise and performance from the pilots. However, the efforts invested in meeting these expectations were undoubtedly worthwhile.

Despite encountering unsettled weather conditions during the initial two days, the fly-in turned out to be a remarkable gathering. Participants experienced a sense of thrill and fulfillment throughout the event, engaging in various training activities and forging lasting memories. The opportunity to interact with fellow pilots and share experiences further enhanced the overall experience.

Throughout the T-28 Trojan Fly-In, numerous captivating moments were captured, showcasing the spirit and excitement of the participants. Here are some images from the event, providing a glimpse into the energy and enthusiasm that permeated the training.

The T-28 Trojan Fly-In training served as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of the participating pilots. Despite the initial setback, the event provided a platform for them to showcase their skills and enhance their expertise. It also emphasized the significance of continuous training and the impact it has on the aviation community as a whole.

Plans for Thunder Run 2023

— By Mike Davenport (Photo: BC Aero 2022)

Led by President Shaun Heaps and supported by Sigmund Sort, Georgina Munro and Ian Kangas, a Zoom meeting was held on June 5 to firm up planning for the 2023 edition of Thunder Run. The cross-border exercise will be based at BC AERO’s Langley Airport (CYNJ) base for Canadian operations.

This year’s International cross-border exercise is to be held on Saturday, July 8, and will involve upwards of a dozen pilots and planes moving 16,000 pounds of food stuffs to simulate a disaster response in Washington state. This will be similar to an exercise held in February that moved 220,000 face masks north from Arlington, Washington, (KBVS) to Langley.

For further information or to participate, go to or contact Shaun direct at

Buttonville Airport to close

Aviation journalist and pilot Phil Lightstone on approach to Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport. (Photo: Phil Lightstone)

— By Phil Lightstone

On May 31, 2023, the operators of the Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ) announced, that on November 30, 2023, Buttonville will be closing. The Buttonville Airport, located at the junction of Highways 404, 407 and 7 has been operated as a private aerodrome since its founding in 1953. It was created by Fred Gilles as a grass strip and became an official airport in 1963.

Buttonville airport today focuses on commercial, General Aviation (GA) and Business Aviation (BA) activities. In fact, Buttonville is exceptionally GA friendly. The GA environment was further enhanced by the activities of the Buttonville Flying Club (COPA Fight 44).

In 2009, the Sifton family, owners of the airport, announced plans to re-develop the airport into a mixed use of residential, commercial and retail developments. In 2010, the airport announced that a joint real estate venture had purchased the airport property. The past 13 years saw a roller coaster ride for tenants at the airport with closure plans being discussed and then shelved to a then yet to be determined future date.

During 2023, tenants saw airport improvements being made by the operator, suggesting that the airport had three to five more years before closure. The announcement on May 31, 2023, including a hard closing date, was unexpected but not surprising.

The impact of the closure is far more reaching than just aircraft owners who park their aircraft at CYKZ. Large tenants like Canadian Flyers (a flight school), York Regional Police’s air service, maintenance shops like Air Partners, Aviation Unlimited and Leggat’s, will be making hard decisions over the next few weeks.

During the first closure announcement, Aviation Unlimited constructed a large hanger at Oshawa Municipal Airport, moving its sales, aircraft hangarage and administrative resources. Itinerant aircraft flying into Buttonville to attend business meetings, vacation, tourism and other commercial endeavours will have to adjust their plans re-vectoring to other airports in the Greater Toronto Area.

TorontoAir Inc., the operator of Buttonville airport is reported to have at least 178 tenant rental contracts in place. Some contracts have multiple aircraft, such as the flight school which operates 10 aircraft. It is estimated that there may be at least 300 aircraft at Buttonville. The Economic Impact of General Aviation in Canada (2017) report indicates that the Canadian national average of GA aircraft fly roughly 21 hours per year.

With many in the pilot community aging and some flying infrequently, a reaction to the closure will be pilot/owners selling their aircraft. Some pilot-owners speculate that that number could be as high as 20 per cent. There are seven airports within a one-hour drive of CYKZ, including: CYYZ, CYTZ, CYOO, CNC3, CZBA, CLA4 and CPB9. A brief survey of these airports finds some hangarage and tie-downs available. A heated hangar space at CYTZ for a Piper Cherokee sized aircraft costs $1,750 per month, plus automotive parking ($250 per month), plus landing fees and taxes. That same Piper Cherokee in cold storage at CYKZ was $650. There is no cold storage available at CYTZ.

“GA airports like Buttonville are a bridge to economic success for the region and Canada,” says Mark van Berkel, President and CEO of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). “I believe that the public does not appreciate the jobs and economic contribution that an airport like Buttonville brings to the region. It saddens me that when an airport closes, part of something great is going away.”

Only time will tell what impact the Buttonville announcement has on the Greater Toronto aviation community. Will there be a mass exodus of aircraft to the U.S. or other parts of Canada? Will Cadillac Fairview postpone the November 30 closing until they are proceeding with shovels in the ground to develop the lands into light industrial and a strip mall? Some pilots are focusing on a strategy of hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Trillium Aviators first flyout

— Text and photos by Phil Lightstone

May 31, 2023, saw the Trillium Aviator’s first flyout of the 2023 season to the Kincardine Airport (CYKM) located on the shores of Lake Huron. The weather was severe VFR with ceilings reported at over 25,000 feet and greater than 15 miles of visibility. The day before the event, Ivan Kristensen, Trillium Aviators founder and lead organizer, reported that he had a total of 43 people, 30 aircraft and 13 passengers, planning on descending upon the shores of Lake Huron.

The airport management and on-site Cheesy Monkii (food truck) were fully supportive of the fly in, with the airport supplying coffee and donuts beginning at 9:00 am with lunch service between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. With more than 30 aircraft descending upon the normally quiet Kincardine Airport, the Trillium Aviators kept a vigilant look out for aircraft joining the circuit (runway 31 is right hand circuits).

Most pilots (if not all) made their first radio calls at 10 NMs out from the field on the unicom frequency (122.8). Ivan Kristensen reports: “As there will be a lot of aircraft arriving, please keep a vigilant lookout and a listening watch on the appropriate frequencies. Make your first call on the CYKM unicom frequency 122.8 10nm back then again 5nm back. It is important that proper circuit entries and radio calls are made so we are all on the same page. Don’t forget that it is Right hand circuit for RWY 31 (Check NOTAMs).”

Steve Rouse, Airport Manager at Kincardine, put together a team of volunteers to make sure that all of the needs of the Trillium Aviators were meet during the event. Volunteers were on hand to direct traffic to parking and to the fuel pump, with 100LL fuel at $2.82 inclusive of taxes. A new AWOS system was operational, providing airport weather information on 122.55.

Lauren Morris, owner and operator of the Cheesy Monkii food truck offered a lunch special to all Trillium Aviators. Morris offered Pork on a Bun, or a hot dog/sausage with fries and a drink for a pilot special of $13 plus tax. Cheesy Monkii had its full summer menu for pilots and passengers looking for an alternative to the pilot special.

Through Ivan Kristensen’s tireless volunteer efforts, the Trillium Aviators have entered their fifth season of gathering like-minded pilots and aviation enthusiasts for mid weak flyouts to destinations in southern Ontario. The flyouts range from bring your own lawn chair and lunch to delicious BBQ hosted by local COPA chapters. Kristensen started Trillium Aviators in 2020 as a reaction to the Covid pandemic based upon flyouts which he experienced while vacationing in Florida. Kristensen’s email list now has more than 310 names. Email Ivan at to be added to the list.

Northern Lights Aero Foundation’s 2023 Elsie Awards recipients

Cathy Press in 1998 took over leadership of the family business Chinook Helicopters, which provides rotary- and fixed-wing flight training out of Abbotsford, BC. (Photo: Chinook Helicopters)

The Northern Lights Aero Foundation announced its 2023 recipients of the Elsie Award program, designed to recognize Canadian women who have made a significant contribution to aviation or aerospace. The awards program, named after aviation pioneer and human rights activist, Elsie Gregory MacGill, is organized in seven categories.

“Once again, eight incredible women are being recognized by our organization,” said Kathleen Lang, President, Northern Lights Aero Foundation. “We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at our new, larger venue, The Pearson Convention Centre.”

The 2023 gala awards dinner is scheduled for October 21, 2023, at the
Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, Ontario, with tickets going on sale in July.

The 2023 recipients include:

Business Award
Cathy Press, CEO of Chinook Helicopters

Education Award
Dr. Joana Rocha, Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Carleton University

Engineering Award
Heather Beaton, Fellow, Aircraft Design & Development Engineering, Bombardier

Flight Operations Award
Kristin Long, Captain and Standards Pilot, WestJet Airlines

Government Award
Major Catherine Cabot, aerospace engineer, Canadian Armed Forces

Trailblazer Award
Glenna Sharratt, flight operations consultant

Rising Star Award
Alisha Sohpaul, Airworthiness Inspector, Transport Canada Airworthiness Inspector

Rising Star Award
Yasna Taieb, Inflight Operations Manager, Jazz Aviation

Aviation adventure awaits in the Northwest Territories

— Text and photos submitted by COPA Flight 108 (Northwest Territories Flying Association)

The Northwest Territories is a veritable paradise for aviation enthusiasts with 163,000 km2 of freshwater located on thousands of lakes. Bush-flying opportunities are endless with innumerable remote destinations accessible on floats, tundra tires or skis. The scenery is spectacular and the fishing is incomparable. The recently created Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake boasts some of the most breathtaking landscapes in North America. Summer months offer 20 hours of sunlight giving plenty of VFR flying time for exploration.

COPA Flight 108 (Northwest Territories Flying Association) supports general aviation and safety in the Northwest Territories and strives to promote the region as an “aviation friendly” destination. To help achieve this important goal, NWTFA has recently completed the acquisition of a new floatplane dock dedicated for use by visiting aircraft. The Yellowknife Waterdrome (CEN9) is located in the eclectic Old Town neighbourhood which offers numerous options for accommodations, restaurants and activities.

The new visitor dock will be placed near the Ahmic Air floatbase and be available for use starting in summer 2023. Reservations will be managed online through the NWTFA website at and 100LL avgas will be available on site from Ahmic Air. The visitor dock is made possible through the support of Ahmic Air and with funding from the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

No floats? No Problem. Wheeled aircraft can land at the Yellowknife Airport (YZF) which is only a 5-minute drive from downtown Yellowknife. Secure visitor parking and fuel are available at YZF. The airport is within walking distance of the Fred Henne territorial campground and the city itself offers a wide range of amenities and activities.

NWTFA President Kevin Brezinski describes the new visitor dock as a true milestone for the organization. “The NWT offers enormous aviation tourism potential, and dedicated parking is critical in allowing us to open the region up a little wider for those wanting to experience northern adventure using their own aircraft.”

NWTFA and the Midnight Sun Fly In Association look forward to welcoming visiting pilots and passengers to Yellowknife this summer for the return of Yellowknife’s biennial Midnight Sun Fly-In. This popular event is planned for July 6 to 9, 2023 at the historic Wardair property on Back Bay. Activities will include a slideshow by Dominique Prinet, a fly-out hosted by NWTFA, and lots of dockside food and entertainment with great bush pilot conversation. Float, wheel and amphibious aircraft are welcome. For more information and registration details, visit