Author Archives: Phil Lightstone

Pickering Airport in Durham Region’s Development Plan

―By Mark Brooks

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will be getting a new airport. The Region of Durham, located just to the east of Toronto, has released its new draft plan on how and where it plans to grow. The Plan includes a multi-modal employment hub based around a new airport in north Pickering. The new airport and an associated advanced employment zone will utilize 9,600 acres of federally owned land set aside for an airport in the 1970s. As suggested by a recent Transport Canada study, the new airport is expected to open initially as a utility, general aviation and specialty passenger airport. Over time it is expected to grow into the GTA’s second busiest airport handling both regional and international flights.

Volunteers from the Buttonville Flying Club (COPA flight 44) have been advocating for the new airport for more than a decade. On March 7, 2023, a club member led a delegation to the Durham region council, empathizing the important role of the new airport in adding badly needed new capacity. The airport will support the growth of advanced industries as well as enable the adoption of new net zero emissions aviation fuels and technology.  The new hub will help offset the critical shortage of industrial land around Pearson airport, which according to the Toronto Board of Trade, now has the lowest vacancy rate in North America (0.5 percent).

A club volunteer also led a delegation to the City of Pickering council meeting on February 27, 2023, in response to two council members who purposed a motion opposing the airport. Debate on that motion continued March 8 and will conclude on April 24.  Regardless of the outcome of that debate, the regional plan is expected to be submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for approval. It will then be up to the federal government to initiate the airport RFP process.

On February 27, the CEO of Hitachi Canada, Mr. Howard Shearer, spoke to the Pickering city council about a willingness to invest more than one Billion dollars into the new transportation hub including the airport and a High Frequency Rail stop.

For more information on the efforts of the Buttonville Flying Club volunteers you can check out their website setup specifically on this issue at

(Photo: Mark Brooks)

SUN’ n FUN 101 – The Basics

Sun ‘N Fun is less than one week away – some basics to consider.

―By Phil Lightstone

The Sun ‘N Fun Aerospace Expo ( is just around the corner (March 28 to April 2).  For those readers who haven’t experienced SUN ‘n FUN, think of it as spring break for aviators.  Located at the Lakeland Linder International Airport, (KLAL), the event can be thought of as a mini Air Venture.  You’ll see and experience the same things at SUN ‘n FUN but without the hustle and bustle of 650,000 attendees.

Flying into Lakeland is a breeze. Checkout the NOTAM located at   There are lots of other airports in the vicinity of Lakeland, such as Kissimmee (KISM), Orlando (KMCO), Winter Haven (KGIF) and Bartow (KBOW).  Fuel and parking tend to be discounted during the week of SUN ‘n FUN, but always a good idea to call and confirm.  Even better, call the FBO and arrange for parking, aircrew rates at nearby hotels and rental cars.

Getting down to central Florida may entail a multi-day, many hop long cross country.  If you’re coming from Western Canada, that can also involve a few overnights (unless you’re blessed with your very own Very Light Jet).  On long cross county flights, when you’re going to be away from your home airport for an extended period of time, consider taking a few of the basics:  tie down ropes and anchors; canopy cover; extra oil; extra spark plugs; smart device charging adapters and cables; supplemental oxygen and cannulas; soft sided thermos for cold water bottles; and chocks.

During the show, you can expect moderate line ups, but purchasing your admission tickets on-line can help reduce the wait.  General admission tickets pricing are: USD $45 daily; $170 for the week; youth (11-17) $20; youth weekly $70; children 10 and under are free; Florida residents enjoy discounted admission pricing; and parking is $10 per day or $40 for the week.  Aircraft camping is $280 for the week which includes one admission ticket ($420 for two admission tickets).  While the airport is blanketed with Wi-Fi hot spots and cellular services, it’s a good idea to have US cash with you for use at the concession stands, flee market, and exhibitor hangers.  After all, SUN ’n FUN is a great opportunity to purchase aviation supplies at discounted prices.  For Canadians, you can save the shipping, taxes, duties and brokerage costs (up to your maximum Customs limit).  Don’t forget to setup a roaming plan on your Canadian smartphone.

Like any vacation to the sun, a few things to bring may include: sunscreen; knapsack; towels (there’s a lot of sweating); rain jacket; good walking shoes; extra socks; insect repellent; collapsible chair; and camera.  PRO TIP: during the show, change your socks in the midafternoon.  It’ll make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud.

On a personal note, I have found getting around Lakeland pretty easy.  In years past, ride sharing services like Uber and Lift were fast and efficient to get you from your hotel to SUN ’n FUN.  There is something to be said about avoiding the parking congestion and getting lost on the roads.  Rental cars costs appear to be roughly CAD $100 per day from companies like Enterprise, however rates will vary based upon rental companies and location of pickup.  There is still a lot of accommodation available, but as time goes on, you may have to stay further from Lakeland.  Don’t forget about COPA’s discount programs for hotel and car rentals.

Night life at SUN ’n FUN adds another dimension to your spring break.  The night air show, vendor meet and greet events, camping with your buddies, dinners out with fellow aviators, and don’t forget pool time.  Flying into congested airspace requires an extra level of alertness not only keeping your head on a swivel but your ears wide open.  Flying with a defensive posture, will help you avoid another pilot, whose level of airmanship leaves something to be desired.

(Photo: Phil Lightstone)

COPA Board of Directors Strategic Planning Meeting


This past weekend, the COPA Board of Directors met in Montreal, Quebec for a two-day in-person meeting.
The Directors discussed strategic planning for the organization, reviewed the feedback received in the 2023 COPA Member Survey and much more. Outcomes from this meeting will be shared as they become available.
We thank members who have already completed the 2023 COPA Member Survey and encourage all of our members to participate. You can complete the 2023 COPA Member Survey  here.

MAAC Director Resigns

– By: Phil Lightstone

Change is underway at the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada

On March 7, 2023, Mr. Fabien Gagné, Director of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada, tendered his resignation after his election in October 2021. The letter of resignation was posted on ( on March 9, 2023 and on In December, members of MAAC received an email from MAAC’s President Mike Anderson advising them to cease and desist any outdoor flying of their radio controlled (R/C) models until further notice due to non-compliance with a number of the conditions of Transport Canada’s (TC) Exemption to CARs Section IX, requiring R/C model aircraft to become in scope to TC’s RPAS rules.

From his letter of resignation: “I find myself in a position where I cannot support a decision of the board. I will not associate myself with it. The pursuit of vengeful disciplinary measures is not only useless but extremely harmful to the organization and the board. In my opinion, not only should this be abandoned, but the people behind this initiative should leave. The board should never undertake an extreme measure, such as excluding a member, as a first resort. This is not in line with Canadian values, not with mine.” Fabian concludes his letter of resignation with: “I have failed to fully restore democracy in time to avoid this radical action. Here, history repeats itself. In my opinion, these struggles within the board of directors are the root cause of its apparent failure. I am in a situation where I cannot support a board decision, and unable to act on the replacement of advisory board members, I am therefore resigning today from my position as director of MAAC. I want to thank the organization and members for the opportunities and experiences I gained during my time as a director at MAAC, and I wish everyone all the best for the future.” Interestingly Fabien serves on the MAAC Sailplane Committee.

Effective immediately, Alain Carpentier will replace Fabien as zone director Zone J – St. Lawrence. Alain has been flying R/C pattern model aircraft for roughly two decades, flying in Montreal’s South Shore area. Alain was able to fill Fabien’s role based upon the succession planning which MAAC’s board of directors have strategically initiated.

Mike Anderson, President of MAAC reports: “the loss of MAAC’s exemption to CARs Section IX creates a new paradigm everyone needs to adapt to in their own way”. Recently, Mike passed the RPAS Basic Exam scoring approximately 85 percent and taking 30 minutes to complete the on-line exam. Further Mike confirms that MAAC has received a formal letter from TC advising them of the loss of MAAC’s waiver. Mike is hopeful that with the on-going collaboration between MAAC and TC that a new exemption waiver may be received sometime in the future. .

(Photo: Phil Lightstone)

ZOLEO Successfully Migrates to Global Rescue

– By: Phil Lightstone 

On March 7th, 2023, ZOLEO announced the migration of their Emergency Response Coordination service to Global Rescue ( SOS alerting will function as usual and will not be disrupted or impacted in any way.  Zoleo is a joint venture between Beam Communications (founded 200) and Roadpost Inc (founded 1991).    Beam manufacturers the Zoleo hardware, while Roadpost looks after sales, marketing, billing, Iridium wholesale activities and technical support.

Delivering on its mission to be there when it matters most, Global Rescue has provided global safety, security and risk mitigation solutions since 2004. Their track record and team of medical professionals and military special operations veterans has made them the provider of choice for some of the world’s largest organizations. As far as ZOLEO is concerned, when it comes to emergency response coordination services, these are the folks you want in your corner. Every active ZOLEO subscription plan includes Global Rescue’s expert 24/7 SOS monitoring and emergency response coordination services 365 days a year.  Global Rescue has one million members, conducted 20,000 rescue operations and has worked in over 200 countries.

SOS Monitoring Services are available in all countries and territories of the world covered by the Iridium satellite network and all international areas including international waters and oceans excluding those countries which are subject to Global Rescue underwriting restrictions i.e. Afghanistan, Chechnya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel (West Bank, Gaza and Occupied Territories only), Somalia, Syria, and Libya.

Zoleo’s key features include: IP68 dust and water resistant to 4.9 feet for 30 minutes; weights 5.3 oz (150 g); Micro USB Type B connector to recharge the Lithium-Ion battery; 200 hours battery life, based upon checking messages every 12 minutes; GPS and GLONAS navigation; and Bluetooth LE, supporting one connected user at a time with a range up to 164 feet.    Optional accessories include: Cradle Kit allowing Zoleo to be attached to a GoPro style mount, and includes the cradle, belt clip insert and camera mount insert; Universal Mount Kit which includes the Cradle Kit, a USB car charger, RAM suction cup; and float designed specifically to keep the Zoleo device afloat when placed in water. 

To economize satellite communications costs, the Zoleo App can send and receive messages in three ways: natively over the Iridium satellite network; using your smartphone’s Wi-Fi connection; or using your smartphone’s cellular connection.  Technically this is called least cost routing.  Sending a message over the app will use the satellite network if it cannot send a message over cellular or Wi-Fi.  A definite billing advantage.

(Image from ZOLEO)

Mark your Calendars for SUN ‘n FUN 2023

– By: Phil Lightstone 

SUN ‘n FUN, in less than three weeks will take place in Lakeland FLD March 28 to April 2, 2023.  Started in 1974, the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo has grown into one of the largest and most successful aviation events.  Each year over 200,000 visitors flock to what has become known as “Aviation’s Season Opener” or “Spring Break for Pilots.”

Aircraft areas include Vintage, Homebuilt, Aerobatic, Warbird, Jet, and Light Sport. A major trade show is part of SUN ‘n FUN. Over 500 exhibitors have a lineup of products and services, hands-on workshops teach hundreds of building and maintenance skills and dozens of forums educate pilots and maintainers about safety, new products and other timely topics. Not just for pilots, SUN ‘n FUN has STEM and Career Fair activities, plus a Family Fun Zone and a world famous daily and night airshows that feature breathtaking displays from dozens of military and civilian performers.

The 2023 “SUN ‘n FUN Digital Daily” (SNFDD) takes on the speedy and mobile capabilities of the best in online media, offering exciting DAILY, REAL-TIME news programming, via rich media, throughout each day of the Expo.  Designed to be the most accessible aviation news special-event program, the SUN ‘n FUN Digital Daily is easily accessed by cellphone, tablet, or any other connected device. Hundreds of stories, features, videos, and social media posts are on this year’s schedule.

In addition, the SNFDD crew will continue the very popular LIVE MORNING BRIEF series with a live webcast, early each morning of the Expo, featuring news, weather, special attractions and interviews specific to that day’s festivities. This program sets the day’s agenda, webcast LIVE from the Compass Rose in the centre of the Expo and remains the best way to get a start on each day’s activities.

Some improvements to SUN ‘n FUN to help ensure that your experience is memorable include: auto parking improvements with parking attendants to greet you, scan your parking ticket so that you can park quickly, with a new parking lot at the East Side Auto Parking Lot; a new Tram Route has been added from the new East Auto Parking Lot delivers guests to the Island and GA Parking on taxiway Echo; a pick/up/drop location at The Island has been added in addition to the Rideshare pick up/drop off location on Medulla Rd west of the Main Parking lot, making accessing Uber and Lift services easier; and the Sunset Aerial Circus will be flying Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

If you’re still looking for a place to stay, check out the SUN ‘n FUN Private Housing page on Facebook.  Visit the Accommodations page to get started. Once you filled out the short Private Housing form and click submit, request to become a member of the Private Housing on the next page.  You must complete the form first.

For pilots flying into the expo, a NOTAM and can be found at  Lakeland Airport will be closed during the airshows, between the hours of 19:30 and 06:00 local time on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.  Wednesday and Saturday, the airport closure will be between 19:00 and 06:00 local time.  So, plan accordingly.  Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) will be in effect during airshow aerobatic demonstrations. TFR information is disseminated via FDC NOTAM prior to the event. Once published, text and graphic depictions of restrictions may be found at:

(Image: Phil Lightstone)


Employers Shopping for Aviation Graduates

Employers Shopping for Aviation Graduates

– By: Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

Thunder Bay, Ont. — Students in the Confederation College School of Aviation welcomed 14 aviation employers to their school hangar on Monday evening to learn about the job opportunities available to them.  Like many industries, the aviation sector is faced with staffing shortages.

According to a report by the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace, by 2025 the industry will require 7,300 new pilots, 5,300 aircraft maintenance engineers and thousands of aviation technicians. Matt Bunn, associate dean for the Confederation College School of Aviation, called the trade fair “definitely new.”

“The industry is changing,” Bunn said. “The employers are having a hard time filling the job needs. Typically in the past, students would graduate here and deliver their resumes everywhere and try and get a job. Now employers are coming to the school to try and convince students to come work for them. Isn’t that something?”

Bunn explained there are two programs within the aviation school. The two-year aviation technician – aircraft maintenance co-op diploma program trains students for the Transport Canada Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) licence. Successful graduates receive up to 21 months credit (almost half) of their apprenticeship time toward their aircraft maintenance engineer’s category M licence requirements. The program accommodates 54 students but is struggling to fill it to capacity.

Visarg Solanki, an international student from India, is about to graduate from the aviation technician/maintenance program and as of Monday’s career fair, he has two solid job offers in his pocket.

“The program is fantastic,” Solanki said. “You get hands-on experience for what you will do after graduation. You learn through a co-op program between first and second year so you can go into the actual industry and work on the aircraft and see how it’s done.”

In the two-year aviation-flight management program, students are already in the air during their first semester of school. Successful graduates receive preparation for both a private and commercial pilot licence, including training with the school’s fleet of 13 aircraft, advanced simulators, and ground school. This program accommodates 65 students and is always filled, Bunn said. “Once they get their commercial pilot’s licence, they’re legally allowed to work as a pilot in Canada,” he said.

George Diwan is finishing his fifth semester in the aviation flight management program and is also about to graduate. “I spoke to the different companies, took their cards and looked at different routes to take in order to achieve my goals of flying, whether it’s a float (plane) up north or maybe a pathway to Air Canada,” he said.  “They did take some of our resumes and they do require about 250 hours (of flying) with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which we will have around 200 hours when graduating from here. So there will be a bridge to cross whether I will be instructing or maybe possibly working for another company until we achieve those numbers that are required.” Diwan described the course as “phenomenal and very challenging at some points.”

Employers attending the job fair included Westjet, Jazz Aviation LP, Wasaya Airways, Thunder Bay Aviation Ltd, Superior Airways Ltd, Royal Canadian Air Force, Flying Colours Corp, North Star Air, IMP Group Ltd., Perimeter Aviation, Air Tindi, Air Bravo Corp, Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre, and Snap On Industrial. Employers are looking to fill dock hand, ramp staff, flight attendant, and customer service agent positions.

(Image: Scott Hobbs)