Category Archives: Featured

Every day the Harvards fly is Remembrance Day

— By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press (Photo: Gustavo Corujo)

Fifteen hours of maintenance for one hour of flight. More than 10,000 parts. And 50 days worth of repairs.

While the numbers don’t tell the whole story about this labour of love, they do give a glimpse into the local effort to restore a long-grounded Second World War Harvard training plane and return it to the skies.

“It’s iconic,” Shane Clayton, chief technical officer and chairperson of museum and archives at the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, said of the Harvard aircraft.

“For the people who stayed at home during the war, and in the ’50s, here in Canada, this is the war they saw. They saw Harvards flying.”

Powered by dedicated volunteers, the association in Tillsonburg, southeast of London, has kept these planes of Canadian history alive since 1985.

The Harvard was the advanced single-engine aircraft used to train more than 130,000 aircrew under the British Commonwealth air training plan _ a joint military training program with allied nations _ in Canada during the Second World War.

“Instructors were the unsung heroes,” Clayton said.

The training program “was Canada’s largest single contribution to the Second World War because it was not only Canadian pilots, but British pilots, American pilots, guys from New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Jamaica, India ? they all come here.”

First flown in 1938, the Harvard was used as a trainer from 1939 to 1965. The association is home to eight of these vintage planes _ the largest fleet of Harvards in North America. Three of them entered service in 1941, while the other five were in service in 1952.

Notorious for its distinctive engine roar and heavy tail wheel, the Harvard was not an easy plane to fly, mainly because of its challenging landing, Clayton said.

“They were very hard aircraft to operate,” he said. “But once you mastered it, you could basically fly anything.”

He estimates more than 1,000 pilots died from Harvard training accidents, whether it was due to weather or mechanical problems.

With a wing span of nearly 13 metres, the aircraft measures nearly nine metres in length and more than three metres in height. The cockpit is made of tubular steel, while the tail cone and wings are aluminum monocoque construction. The control surfaces are fabric-covered.

“They are basically built like a brick outhouse,” Clayton said. “They’re made to take the damage from pilots beating (them up).”

The plane can fly for up to four hours at 120 knots/hour (222 km/h).

Underneath its bright yellow coat is a 600-horsepower Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine, known as the Wasp. It’s the same engine that powered other planes of some iconic pilots, including Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 10.

Today, fewer than 100 Harvard planes remain in Canada, many of them in museums. An estimated 40 to 50 of those trainers could be made suitable to fly, Clayton said.

Southwestern Ontario was home to more than 20 flying schools during the Second World War, he said. In Tillsonburg, the legacy of the historic planes continues, thanks to about 15 certified pilots and nearly 50 volunteers.

Among the various branches are the restoration and maintenance teams that take on the task of repairing and preparing the 10,000-part aircraft for flight. There are 107 bolts in one wing alone.

The bulk of maintenance, including annual inspections and overhauls, happens in the winter when the planes are stored in hangars.

The cost to fly a Harvard is about $600 each hour, Clayton said. The costs to restore, preserve, display and fly the plane are covered by donations from members and visitors. A large portion of the non-profit’s funding also stems from aircraft rides offered to the public between April and Remembrance Day.

To mark the day this year, three of the association’s Harvards will fly over the cenotaph at Old City Hall in Toronto next week.

But every day, the Harvard honours Canadian veterans who served in the First and Second World Wars.

“The thing with us is, basically every time you fly, it’s Remembrance Day,” Clayton said.

While it may be a hefty price and long hours to keep the plane in shape, to him, you cannot put a price on a legacy meant to be shared with others.

“Sometimes during the winter, you’re here, and you’re saying, ‘Why the hell am I doing this? It doesn’t seem to be making much visual progress,”’ Clayton said.

“But then, when you roll them out in the spring ? and see them in an air show, in front of tens of thousands of people, everybody stops what they are doing and watches. You think, ‘I helped put them there.’ That’s the fun part.”

In the Dehcho, a one-man air charter firm connects communities

Sergei Mjatelski and his Cessna 170 plane form the company Goose Flying Service. (Photo: Claudia Bittner)

— By Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio

It is a bird, it is a plane. Since March, Goose Flying Service has shuttled residents and supplies around the smaller communities of the Northwest Territories’ Dehcho region.

Sergei Mjatelski, the company’s owner and operator, has lived in Fort Simpson for six years. He said his service, a one-man operation, is a “ taxi of the skies” filling a gap with charter flights carrying one or two people.

The Dehcho’s communities, some with fewer than a hundred residents, can be hard to reach. During spring and fall, the formation and breakup of ice means ferries can’t run but ice roads aren’t stable, cutting off even the regional centre of Fort Simpson.

Other communities have no road access at all in the summer, when ice roads have melted. Mjatelski says that means air charters have an important role to play in helping people to carry on with their lives, from commuting to work to attending medical appointments or picking up goods.

“I’m catering to a smaller market,” he said. “If you’ve got one person that needs to be moved, it’s more cost-efficient to fly with myself, whereas if you’ve got a lot of people to move, you’re better off checking in with one of the other airlines.”

Mjatelski acknowledged the risks of opening a business during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said he has enjoyed navigating the challenges.

“I guess the saving grace is that it’s essential service, flying – it has to go on,” he said. “These people do need to move in and out of the communities, despite COVID going on.”

So far, the community he visits the most is Sambaa K’e, east of Fort Liard and around 100 km from any all-season highway. The 90 or so residents of Sambaa K’e have no road access in the summer.

Dennis Deneron, a resident of Sambaa K’e who works at the local water treatment plant, has flown with Mjatelski a number of times. Deneron says the smaller aircraft means a lower cost compared to other options.

He told Cabin Radio the service has made it easier to get deliveries and mail, a simple concept for most Canadians but trickier when there’s no road anywhere near your home.

“It’s a nice airplane and it’s nice to fly with him, we’ve known him for quite a while,” Deneron said.

“He’s our banker, he’s our delivery person, he’s everything to us. You can just give him an envelope and he’ll drop it off at the bank, or where you need.

“It’s good service.”

Mjatelski expects to keep his business small. He performs all of the tasks associated with running his one-person airline, from flying the aircraft to completing the paperwork.

The only reason that may change, he said, is when tourism returns to the territory, which would bring an influx of guests and demand to the Dehcho.

So far, there’s no telling when that might be.

Richard W. LeVan Airport to be sold, surrounding property declared surplus

— By Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times (Photo: Steve Bond)

North Huron council has given its approval, in principle, to an agreement of purchase and sale for the Richard W. LeVan Airport in Wingham.

As part of the agreement, it will remain a viable airport for 15 consecutive years.

Papple Aviation, owned by Summer and Tyler Papple, purchased the 77 acres, including the runway, terminal building, hangars and the helipad, for an undisclosed amount of money.

The Wingham Advance Times made multiple requests to the township requesting more information on the sale price, but did not receive a response prior to press time.

Council also directed the director of finance to place the funds from the sale of the airport into reserve funds until council decides how these funds can be used for the benefit of all ratepayers.

Council also directed staff to begin the process of declaring the 371 acres of land and woodlot surrounding the airport, which is currently leased, as surplus to the township’s needs, to begin preparations for the eventual sale of that land.

Director of Public Works Jamie McCarthy presented her report on the sale and the surplus declaration to North Huron council at the Nov. 1 regular council meeting.

The following conditions of sale applied and were agreed upon by both parties:

• the purchaser agrees to operate the grounds as a viable airport for 15 consecutive years;

• the purchaser agrees to purchase or lease the hangers from the current lessees;

• the purchaser agrees to support the continuation of ORNGE services at the airport; and

• the purchaser agrees to provide unhindered access to the easement located at the west section of the property line.

Robert Warwick, who currently leases the 371 acres council wants to declare surplus, personally requested that council consider his situation carefully and told them that he would prefer to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Warwick said he was looking for clarity regarding his tenancy. He explained that he was a little confused, having heard conflicting information about what would happen.

“I’d like to keep renting the airport property for as long as I can,” Warwick said.

After some discussion about the wording of the motion and to help Warwick with some clarity, council revised the motion to include the date when notice will be given to him.

The declaration of surplus land and the early lease termination does not guarantee that the land will be sold. There is still a process that has to happen before any sale goes through.

According to the lease document provided by McCarthy in her report, the current five-year lease held between Warwick and the township was initially scheduled to end in 2024.

Since written notification to terminate the lease would have been given to the tenant on Aug. 1 to vacate the land by the end date of Dec. 31, council agreed that notice is given to the tenant on Aug. 1, 2022 to leave at the end of 2022.

McCarthy’s report said, “It would be staff’s intentions to provide the tenant with notice of termination sooner rather than later and in accordance with the agreement, specify the type of crop to be planted. A crop type with a shorter growth period enables a shorter transition period to a potential purchaser.”

Council authorized staff to proceed with the disposal of the surplus property using the direct advertising method and directed them to prepare a report for a future meeting detailing all offers and expressions of interest for future consideration.

Captain Judy Cameron Scholarship applications open

The Northern Lights Aero Foundation announced the opening of online applications for the third annual Captain Judy Cameron Air Canada Scholarship, established in honour of the airline’s first female pilot. Applications for the 2021-2022 scholarship will be accepted until November 30, 2021.

This is the third year that Air Canada has provided this scholarship, which targets women who are Canadian citizens and who are enrolled in a fixed wing aviation flight program at a college, university, or flight school, or an aircraft repair and maintenance program anywhere in Canada.

Application details and the application form can be found on our website here.

The Northern Lights Aero Foundation is in its 13thj year of celebrating women in Canada’s aerospace and aviation industries. Other initiatives of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation include a speakers’ bureau, mentorship program, scholarship program and a junior board.

(Image: Air Canada video)

Bell Textron Canada launches MRO capability

Bell Textron Canada celebrates the launch of its new MRO capability in Mirabel, in the presence of its first client Jean-Charles Emter, Helistore; Steeve Lavoie, President, Bell Textron Canada; and Jacynthe Curotte, vice president, Operations, Bell Textron Canada. (Photo: Bell Textron Canada)

Bell Textron Inc. on October 6 announced it addition of a new maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service in its Mirabel, Quebec, facility.

Bell explains the increasing demand for customer support and services in North America prompted it to provide MRO services directly to all operators of Bell aircraft in Canada. The Mirabel facility provides these services to a range of aircraft, from the Bell 206 – Bell’s first commercial aircraft produced in country – to the commercial aircraft currently being produced.

“We have been in Mirabel for 35 years, conducting composite, final assembly, completion and paint capabilities in our facility, along with technical and product support engineering on site,” said Steeve Lavoie, president of Bell Textron Canada. “As the demand for maintenance increased, it became clear that we had the opportunity to enhance support for our customers.”

Bell entered the Canadian market in 1986 and quickly became a driving force of the Canadian helicopter market, supporting the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Sûreté du Québec, and private owners in North America. Bell has produced more than 5,600 commercial aircraft, which are operating around the world.

“Bell is known worldwide for its industry-leading support and services. Our customers are our priority, and we will continue to listen and focus on providing them with an excellent experience throughout the lifetime of their aircraft, right here in Canada,” said Chad Nimrick, director, Support and Services at Bell.

High River Airport implements free in-cockpit weather and traffic

By Lionel St.Hilaire

The High River Regional Airport in Cayley, Alberta, is proud to advise the approval and implementation of the Canadian In-Flight Information Broadcasting Association (CIFIB) free in-cockpit weather and some traffic services (NemoScout & Gliders) to pilots operating within range of the High River Airport UAT 978 MHz broadcasting ground station. High River is the first station, outside of Ontario, to champion in-flight services and should be operational in early 2022.

Canadian In-Flight Information Broadcasting Association is a not-for-profit corporation that is creating and managing the ground station network that provides in-flight weather and some traffic services to GA pilots operating within coverage areas in Canadian domestic airspace. Their mission is to improve General Aviation safety by transmitting available weather and some traffic information to pilots in the cockpit to improve decision-making and to raise awareness by promoting the use of this source of information.

Receiving CIFIB broadcasts requires an ADS-B In receiver capable of decoding UAT on 978 MHz, which are readily available and quite economical. The onboard ADS-B receiver will display other ADS-B/1090S traffic, along with NemoScout units (popular with flight schools) – 1090 Mode C not available for tracking at this time.

For more information on this project visit the CIFIB website.

Owen Sound Council approves sale of CYOS

Owen Sound Council on November 1, 2021, voted to authorize the City’s Mayor and Staff to complete the sale of Billy Bishop Regional Airport to Clayton Smith, an aviation enthusiast with a proven track record in the operation of small airports.

After much research and public consultation, the sale price of Billy Bishop Regional Airport, CYOS, is $1.5 million and the transaction is scheduled to close on December 10, 2021. Owen Sound Council also notes, as a result of the sale, its savings in operating costs per year are $250,000.

Under the leadership of Smith, Owen Sound Council explains the airport’s operations will continue, including the use of the facility by patient transfer services such as ORNGE.

Owen Sound Council explains the airport requires some capital improvements that will be undertaken by the new owner.

Groupe Aviatech reaches new heights with a new $1.8M investment

Groupe Aviatech was founded in 2002 by Carl Duguay, who is still its president. (Photo: Julien Gauthier)

— By Julien B. Gauthier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Le Lac St-Jean

Groupe Aviatech recently announced a $1.8M investment for the construction of a second hangar. The new building will allow the company to service larger aircraft.

Based at Alma Airport, Groupe Aviatech is a company specializing in machining, maintenance and painting services for the aviation industry. This third expansion project will see Aviatech’s total surface area expand from 10,800 to 19,800 square feet. Construction is scheduled to be completed around March 2022.

This new hangar will be added to the current building, which already houses administrative offices, a machining workshop, and another hangar.

Groupe Aviatech currently rents a hangar from the City of Alma, located approximately 100 metres from the company’s location.

“This will save us the trouble of constantly transporting materials between locations. Furthermore, we will be able to work on larger aircraft, including those of Panorama Aviation, one of our major clients. This also allows us to improve cost-effectiveness and performance,” explained Carl Duguay, Groupe Aviatech’s president and founder.

Founded in 2002, Groupe Aviatech specializes in four areas, the first of which is aircraft maintenance. The company repairs, rebuilds, and restores helicopters and airplanes.

“We started off by working on private ultralight aircraft, but eventually we went and got our mechanic certifications.”

The company regularly performs maintenance and repairs for various aircraft types such as Beechcraft 1900D, Pilatus PC-12, Cessna, and Piper, as well as Astar 350 and Bell 206 helicopters.

Groupe Aviatech also specializes in aircraft painting, including stripping and priming, machining, as well as plans and designs.

The company’s client list spans the entire province. Besides Panorama Aviation, which is also based in Alma, its clients include Cargair (Saint-Honoré), Max Aviation (Saint-Hubert), Groupe Gilbert (Chicoutimi), Propair (Rouyn-Noranda), and Kudlik Aviation (L’Ancienne-Lorette).

According to Carl Duguay, the pandemic had a positive impact on the company’s business. “During the first two to three months, everything stopped. But afterwards, aviation companies took advantage of this forced period of inactivity to do maintenance, repairs and restorations.”

Groupe Aviatech currently has 26 employees.

How pilots can improve medical certificate process


Many pilots are experiencing delays in the processing of either new or renewal medical certificates. While it can be frustrating to wait for your certificate, it’s important to realize how and where these delays stem from, and what steps you, as the pilot, can do to ensure your initial medical certificate or medical certificate renewal, is completed as efficiently as possible.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation Medical team has continued to function. In anticipation of the pandemic, exemptions were drafted in advance of the shutdown in March 2020, to allow pilots to continue to fly. All pilots were granted a three-month extension. In addition, renewals by Attestations and by Telemedicine were introduced. However, the pandemic did create delays, as staff lost due to usual attrition were not able to immediately be replaced.

If you are a prospective student, looking to start flight training, the standard time for processing of a standard file is 40 business days from the time the file is received by Transport Canada. The sooner you can start the process, the sooner you’ll be able to receive your certificate. Additionally, there are exemptions to start training using at Category 4 medical, as you await your certificate. See exemption NCR-014-2021 here.

If you are looking to renew a current medical certificate, consider a Telemedicine appointment, if applicable to you.  If the Civil Aviation Medical Examiner determines that you are fit, you may be eligible for immediate renewal with a Telemedicine or in-person renewal appointment. Further information can be found at the following link.

Prior to the pandemic, approximately 5% of Civil Aviation Medical Examiners (CAME) were submitting files via Electronic Medical Examination Report, (eMER). Paper files sent to regional offices are subject to delays by Canada Post and require a lot of extra handling and processing within the Transport Canada offices. With the encouragement from Transport Canada, uptake for digital submissions has risen to an average of 80%. To avoid excessive delays, ensure your CAME is using eMER. By submitting electronically, a number of steps will be eliminated, such as mail wait times and the processing of the paper file by Transport Canada. In addition, the eMER won’t allow a submission with incomplete or missing information, meaning when the file is ready for review, all required information will be available. As Transport Canada works towards more digital submissions, it’s also important that pilots provide a current email address on their applications. Transport Canada will use that email to contact the pilot if any further documentation is required.

Something to remember is that if you have a complicated medical case, or your CAME has decided not to renew based on new medical information, it will take a longer period to work through the system. These files can take time and may require requests for further testing or documentation.

New exhibition explores Canada’s history of keeping its busy skies safe

Visitors to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum can now discover if they have what it takes to manage air traffic in our skies in a new exhibit Eyes on the Skies: Managing Air Traffic in Canada. Developed in collaboration with NAV CANADA, the exhibit delves into the evolution of air traffic management, exploring the systems, people, and technologies that keep Canada’s skies safe.

“Eyes on the Skies highlights this complex aspect of aviation with engaging and fun interactives,” said Chris Kitzan, Director General of Canada Aviation and Space Museum. “It’s a snapshot into the vital contributions that Canadians have made to air navigation, including managing Canada’s 18 million square kilometres of airspace to ensure the safety of our skies.”

Through a variety of highly interactive experiences that test visitors’ skills, and a mix of historical and contemporary content, Eyes on the Skies will expose visitors to Canada’s air navigation system and how air traffic is managed safely and efficiently – a critical role of the aviation industry.

Eyes on the Skies demystifies complex ideas – from the impacts of gender and language to how radar works. It highlights people central to managing air traffic in Canada and explores how navigation systems, procedures and technologies have evolved over the decades. Drawing links to their own experiences as passengers, visitors will learn through play, strong visual and audiovisual experiences.

In addition, an Eyes on the Skies travelling exhibit has hit the road to visit museums from coast to coast to coast to allow Canadians across the country to discover the important contributions we have made – and continue to make – to managing air traffic.

“While honouring the men and women who make Canada’s air navigation service among the safest in the world, Eyes on the Skies offers a window into a part of the aviation industry not seen by most Canadians,” said Raymond Bohn, President and CEO of NAV CANADA. Our industry is evolving rapidly, and we hope this new exhibit inspires some to consider new career paths to help shape Canada’s future aviation story.”

(Photo: Pierre Martin, Ingenium)