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Category Archives: News

Canadian pilot completes solo flight around world

— By Shazia Nazir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter

Callum Wallace, a pilot and Engel & Völkers Oakville advisor, made history as the fourth Canadian to complete a solo flight around the world successfully. The incredible journey, known as “Flight for Hope,” culminated in October 2023 when Wallace touched down at Burlington Executive Airport.

Flight for Hope, a daring round-the-world expedition in a small single-engine aircraft, was undertaken by Callum Wallace to support the Burlington-based charity Home Suite Hope.

The challenging voyage took Wallace through an extensive flight path, covering multiple countries and continents. His journey began in Quebec, and traversed through Iqaluit, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka. Wallace also made critical stops in Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, and Christmas Island.

This epic adventure has garnered significant attention and support, with funds raised through Flight for Hope being donated to Home Suite Hope, a Canadian charity dedicated to making a difference in the lives of homeless single parents.

Home Suite Hope’s transformative four-year program provides homeless single parents vital support, including rental subsidies, access to childcare, transportation, two years of college education, life skills training, professional development, mentorship, employment support, and intensive case management. The ultimate goal is financial independence and long-term stability, with a positive intergenerational impact.

COPA Scholarships, opening doors for members and aspiring pilots

Ashley Gellatly, recipient of a COPA Advanced Flight Training Scholarship.

— By Sharon Cheung

Each year COPA does its part to help deserving members and aspiring pilots reach their goals through its scholarship program. In recent years, we increased our annual scholarships from $14,000 (two awards) to nearly $30,000 (eight awards).

Through generous donations made to our COPA Flight Safety Foundation, we have awarded more than $330,000 in scholarship funding over the past few decades. Please consider contributing to our foundation, and helping other pilots get their start in General Aviation. Keep reading to learn about the stories of this year’s recipients below!

COPA’s scholarship program will begin accepting applications starting January 8, 2024.

Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship

Applicants for this scholarship, aged 16 to 21, are assessed on their demonstrated interest in aviation, community involvement, academic achievements, ability to set and achieve goals, and commitment to earning their Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). This year’s recipient is David He, from Burnaby, BC, who was awarded $14,000 to pursue his PPL.

Despite financial struggles that influenced David to take on several part-time jobs and help support his family, he has accomplished much at the age of 20. His enthusiasm for public policy has led to his appointment to the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to provide non-partisan advice to the federal government on various issues. And David’s passion for aviation has taken him from joining the Air Cadets to hundreds of hours of simulation time to starting online ground school and finally to becoming this year’s COPA Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship recipient.

COPA New Wings Scholarship

New this year, Diamond Doors, a Canadian commercial bifold door manufactured located in Winkler, Manitoba, stepped in to help us introduce the COPA New Wings Scholarship. This $5,000 scholarship award supports an individual 21 and older pursing a private pilot’s licence.

Amanda Poirier from Lindsay, Ontario, is the inaugural recipient of the New Wings Scholarship and is the first in her family to become a pilot. She began her flight training at the end of 2021 in Lindsay and recently received her PPL in August with Canadian Flight Academy in Oshawa, Ontario. Her aviation journey began later than some. Her stepdad heard her talk about her desire to fly and booked her a discovery flight for her 31st birthday. As soon as the wheels left the ground, Amanda knew this was what she wanted to do with her life. Having earned her PPL, she is now working toward her night rating, float rating and CPL with a goal of piloting fly-in charters in northern Ontario.

“My advice to anyone with that urge to fly is to visit your local flight school and book your discovery flight but be prepared that your life will change from that day forward. I also believe that it’s extremely important to get involved in the aviation community, and to find opportunities to volunteer where you can,” Amanda says. “I am an active volunteer with my local chapter of the Ninety Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. I currently manage the social media accounts and website for my local chapter, the First Canadian Ninety Nines, and through this I have met many amazing pilots, mentors, and have found life-long friends.”

Advanced Flight Training Scholarships

The COPA Advanced Flight Training Scholarship supports COPA members interested in pursuing advanced flight training. This year, COPA awarded three recipients with $2,500 each to Lauren Nagel (Ottawa, ON), Annie Wen (Alfred, ON), and Ashley Gellatly (Walkerton, ON).

Lauren Nagel took her first discovery flight at CNF4 in 2016. Initially, she thought they were just flying for fun with one of her dad’s friends (because that’s what he told her), so she was confused when this ‘friend’ started teaching her how to use the controls. Nonetheless, she felt comfortable and enjoyed the flight. Back on the ground, Lauren’s father revealed that this ‘friend’ was a flight instructor. He told her that he wanted to get his pilot’s license and asked if Lauren wanted to get hers as well, now that she had this low-pressure trial run.

Lauren explains, that at the time, it felt like there were many reasons to say no: It was expensive, she was still in school, it would be hard to find the time. But all those reasons didn’t matter because she was already hooked. Lauren eventually started her flight training at CNF4, getting her RPP in 2017 followed by her PPL in 2018 at CYRO. Earning her pilot’s license changed her life, career path and hobbies. Lauren became active with the McGill University Students’ Flying Club, interned for COPA, and finally in 2020 graduated and began working at a Gatineau-based aerospace company serving the drone and electric aviation sectors.

Today, Lauren spends most of her time volunteering for the Ottawa branch of CASARA (Civil Air Search and Rescue Association), where she is a certified navigator. Lauren uses her flying to explore Canada, to show her network what it means to be a private pilot, and to give back. Lauren will be using this scholarship to pursue her night rating.

Annie Wen’s start in aviation was through the Air Cadet’s Glider Pilot Scholarship program in 2008 in Debert, Nova Scotia. She obtained her PPL the following summer through the Power Pilot Scholarship program. Annie holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. She currently works at Air Canada Cargo on the Artificial Intelligence team. During her studies, she pursued internships in the aerospace industry and continued flight training for her night rating.

Over the past 10 years she has been gradually building hours for her CPL, passing the written exam in 2021 and her flight test in 2022. Annie plans to use the funds from the COPA Advanced Flight Training Scholarship for her multi-engine rating. She is currently the governor of the East Canada Section of The Ninety-Nines. One of the major initiatives she is working on this year is to pursue Charitable Status with the Canada Revenue Agency. This will enable the section to receive the donation of a Piper PA28-140 Cherokee for members to build hours at a low cost and continue to receive donations. The team is following the model started by the Manitoba Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, currently offering a Cessna 150 for members to build hours. The goal is to remove financial barriers and encourage more women to pursue aviation.

On a personal level, Annie and her husband both share a passion for General Aviation. They live on a small hobby farm where they are clearing enough space for a small grass strip. Last year, they assembled a Quonset hut for hangar space to work on their Kitfox IV. They continue working on the project during evenings and weekends but look forward to the day when their aircraft is finally airworthy to attend COPA fly-ins and share this freedom to fly with others.

Ashley Gellatly was an avid reader of historical fiction when she was a young teen. She read a novel about a wartime pilot and was instantly hooked. That military-inspired introduction to aviation led her to joining the Air Cadets and in 2018 she completed the program’s PPL training program within seven weeks.

To assist her goals to become a training captain, Ashley has had several accomplishments including earning her CPL through the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, recently graduating from the aviation program at the University of Waterloo and is now working toward her flight instructor rating. While Ashley has a natural love for teaching, she feels flight instructing is a gateway to multi-crew flying.

Drone Pilot Scholarships

Through the COPA Drone Pilot Scholarship, COPA members can obtain their advanced RPAS certifications. This year COPA helped three COPA members in pursuing advanced RPAS training: Isaac Esikhaty of Lakefield, ON; Robert Whitley of Edmonton, AB; and Abdoul Kader Kimba Dodo of Montreal, QC.

Isaac Esikhaty grew up on an air force military base and it planted the aviation seed in his life earlier on. However, it was not until graduating university and finding a job that he could finance his PPL training. Now holding a PPL and working at a private, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades nine through 12 in Ontario, Isaac has combined his passion to inspire youth in STEM subjects with his passion for aviation by launching a Drone Program this past year at the school he works at.

Isaac launched this new program as his personal mission to inspire youth to explore and bring ideas into the world of aviation, and to foster the discipline and safety culture of aviation through standardized operating procedures. Isaac feels that in a world where the attention of our youth is increasingly distracted by social media and cell phones, it is necessary to increase opportunities for creative outlets that harness technology as a tool.

The drone program that Isaac has created has three components:  1. A 20-hour ground school on the knowledge requirements for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) basic certificate, on lithium polymer battery safety and on drone privacy guidance; 2. The assembly of a quadcopter kit where students configure a flight controller using Mission planner, connect and map servos, culminating the unit with a test flight mission; and 3 Drone flying missions which begin with basic flight maneuvers and advance to mission objectives in automated flight: search and rescue search grids, survey patterns, and taking dynamic drone footage.

Robert Whitley has been a member of COPA Flight 51 in Wetaskiwin, AB, for 30 years and recently retired as Captain of COPA Flight 176. His passion for aviation started during his first flight as a five-year-old and he’s been active in model aviation since 1971. In Air Cadets, he earned Technical Training (airframe/aero engine), Senior Leaders, a PPL, and Glider Pilot Scholarships and finished with the cadet rank of Warrant Officer 2nd class. Robert has his night endorsement, taildragger, CPL, Glider License, Multi-Engine, and Class II Flight Instructor qualifications, as well as the RPAS basic certificate. He was active with the local gliding club while in the military and posted to Lahr, Germany. Nine years after release he re-enlisted into the RCAF CIC Reserve eventually retiring as Commanding Officer.

Robert is a freelance instructor to better serve aspiring pilots in their own aircraft and has flown 53 aircraft types to date. Over the years Robert has been heavily involved with his community in a variety of areas, including with EAA as the Chapter 30 President; serving on a national advisory committee for the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada; receiving a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his outstanding volunteer work with various veterans’ associations for over 35 years; flying hundreds of young people through COPA’s Discover Aviation program, the cadets and the EAA Young Eagles program, and in becoming a Founding Director for the Alberta Aviation Museum Facility and the National Air Cadet Museum and Archives, both located in Edmonton. All the best to Robert who plans to use his advanced drone certification to enhance his knowledge and share it with those interested in RPAS, model aircraft, and General Aviation.

Abdoul Kader Kimba Dodo has a glider pilot licence that he obtained in 2011 through the Air Cadets. He also has his PPL and is currently studying for his CPL at the Saint Hubert Flying College. Abdoul has a skydiving license with more than 229 jumps to date and has been working at Montreal Airport (CYUL) for more than seven years as a trainer and bay manager in aircraft de-icing at Aeromag 2000. Abdoul has de-iced more than 11,036 aircraft now. The world of aviation has always fascinated and motivated Abdoul since his childhood and he intends to finish his flying lessons and start working for an airline as soon as possible. In addition to his involvement with COPA, Abdoul is an active member of the Black Aviation Professional Network (BAPN) and he recently participated in an event at the VIP Pilot Centre in Montréal to promote black talent in aviation.

Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association open house

— Text and photos by Gus and Clara Corujo

On a rainy, cold, and windy day, the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association hosted its final open house fly day of the season.

With three Harvard aircraft and a rotation of five pilots, the CHAA succeeded in bringing broad smiles to their delighted passengers.

This all-volunteer organization is on a mission to acquire, preserve, restore, maintain, display and demonstrate the Harvard and other training aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

The Harvard takes flight today as both a symbol and a poignant reminder of all those who served to safeguard our freedom, serving as a living memorial to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we can continue to live in a free country.

A special thank you is extended to the Canadian Harvard Association and the dedicated army of volunteers who have transformed CHAA into a remarkable organization.

Bombardier ramps up EcoJet flight tests

As part of a new stage of the EcoJet research project, Bombardier is flying an 18-foot-wide test vehicle designed as a blended wing body aircraft, with the goal of reducing business jet emissions by up to 50 per cent. (Photo: Bombardier)

Bombardier at NBAA-BACE 2023 provided an update of its EcoJet research project, outlining progress in its second test phase and unveiling new images of an 18-foot-wide demonstrator. The Montreal aircraft maker explains its EcoJet research project aims to reduce aircraft emissions by up to 50 per cent through a combination of aerodynamic, propulsion and other enhancements.

The research into EcoJet technologies began 15 years ago and the project has materialized into a family of Blended Wing Body (BWB) test vehicles for flights to develop and mature relevant technologies. Bombardier explains analysis of the data gathered from the 18-foot-wide prototype will allows its engineering team to perfect its knowledge of new aviation control laws that are adapted to the radically different BWB geometry, bound to be applied to more sustainable, future business aircraft.

“Our engineers are eager to start working with the results yielded by this second phase of the flight test program,” said Stephen McCullough, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, Bombardier. “Building on the significant data drawn from the initial flight-testing phase, and now leveraging a model twice as large as the first prototype, we can further refine our analysis. With each additional experimental stage, we are paving the way for more sustainable aircraft designs and new technologies.’’

Comprised of several free-flight campaigns, the flight-testing program involving the BWB designed vehicles will be held over multiple years to generate increasingly precise data in representative environments. The 18-foot-wide prototype of Bombardier’s EcoJet research project flew for the first time in 2022. Bombardier explains its Research and Technology team started testing real life feasibility of their theoretical work back in 2017 with the first prototype, which had a wingspan of approximately eight feet.

Also at NBAA-BACE 2023, Bombardier celebrated the September 2023 delivery of its 150th Global 7500 business jet to an undisclosed customer. The Global 7500 was entered into service in 2018.

Flight Academy awarded collegiate status

— By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

South Alberta Flight Academy was awarded collegiate school status by Alberta Education in April. Superintendent Reagan Weeks gave a brief presentation to the board at the regularly scheduled Prairie Rose Public Schools meeting on May 9.

Even though PRPS knew the competition would be fierce, they put in an application because of the excellent program that has been created. Collegiate requirements included a collaboration between the school division and Super T Aviation, which is an accredited school within the province of Alberta in its own right. Thus, it can grant certifications to students.

The new collegiate will have three streams. In Grade 10, students will now take part in wilderness training, where they will experience a mock plane crash. Additionally, they will receive their radio licence along with numerous other certificates.

In year two, students will have additional opportunities they haven’t had previously and will have to make some choices. A new stream will be aeronautical mechanical engineering where the students will learn how to take care of airplanes and work through the certification process. The second stream is becoming a pilot and the third stream will be air traffic control and drones.

All students in the academy will be exposed to all three streams but to become fully certified, they will pick only one. Also being added is the option of taking a fourth year where students can complete their commercial pilot’s licence or complete the training to be certified as an aeronautical mechanical engineer.

Students in the three streams will help build the next plane. PRPS plans to sell the student-built plane every three years. The newly built one will be kept for students in the program and new graduates to use for getting their flight hours in, which will avoid incurring the high cost of rental fees.

(Photo: Facebook, South Alberta Flight Academy)

Remembering Eric Dumigan at Tillsonburg Regional

— Text and photos by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

Family and friends of renowned aviation photographer Eric Dumigan gathered at Tillsonburg Regional Airport on September 23, to celebrate his life as he would have wanted. An exceptional turnout of people and planes spoke volumes about the esteem in which Eric was held throughout the aviation fraternity. The event was hosted by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association in their hangar.

Bernadette LaBarre Dumigan expressed heartfelt thanks to everyone for their attendance and donations to a GoFundMe campaign after Eric died unexpectedly on September 25, 2021. In an emotional and touching moment, Bernadette said she would “rather have a short life with Eric than a long life.”

Speakers included longtime friend Rich Kolassa from New Jersey and Naomi Wadsworth of the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, NY, among others. In fact, Rich recalled he first met Eric at the Geneseo air show in 1998 and they would see each other at events four to six times every year.

Family members said they would miss Eric’s laughter and his mischievous smile. As they said, he was always in a good mood and invariably had a story or two.

Dave Rohrer and Leon Evans led CWHM representatives in the museum’s B-25 Mitchell. Hannu Halminen brought his striking P-51 Mustang in the colours of RCAF 424 Squadron. Alf Beam in his T-28 Trojan and a Viking Air DHC-2 Beaver also highlighted an array of visiting aircraft.
Well-known air show pilots attended as well as members of the Guelph Tiger Boys; the Jet Aircraft Museum; the Canadian Aviation Historical Society; the EAA Chapter 65 Golden Horseshoe; and more.

Six Harvards flew a missing man formation in a fitting tribute to Eric, remembered by Rich as “not only a great photographer but a great human being.” Eric may be gone, but his inspiring legacy will live on.

Last 2023 Trillium Aviators Fly In

— By Phil Lightstone (Photos by Ivan Kristensen)

The last Trillium Aviators Fly In for the 2023 season took place on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Roughly 25 aircraft and more than 40 people flew into the Orillia Rama Regional Airport (CNJ4) from all over Southwestern Ontario. With two runways (12/30 is 3,000 x 75 feet asphalt and 04/22 is 2,000 x 150 feet) and a seaplane base, Orillia offers easy ramp access for both amphibious, fixed-wing and rotor aircraft the like.

(Photo: Ivan Kristensen)

A hidden gem at Orillia is the Tailwinds Bar and Grill. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating with the outdoor seating overlooking the lake. This venue provides customers with an outstanding view of the lake and seaplanes operating on the lake. The flight training unit at Orillia offers a seaplane rating course. Subsequently, the lake is quite busy with floatplane traffic. Enjoying a burger while watching the floatplanes take off and land is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Gail Karns, Lake Country Airways, reports: “The Trillium Aviators all looked like they had a great time, with severe VFR weather and super food at Tailwinds Bar and Grill”.

(Photo: Ivan Kristensen)

Through Ivan Kristensen’s tireless volunteer efforts, the Trillium Aviators will be entering their sixth season of gathering like-minded pilots and aviation enthusiasts for mid weak fly outs to destinations in southern Ontario. The fly outs range from bring your own lawn chair and lunch to delicious BBQ hosted by local COPA chapters. Ivan started Trillium Aviators in 2020 as a reaction to the Covid pandemic based upon fly outs which he experienced while vacationing in Florida. Ivan’s email list now has over 332 names. To date, Trillium Aviators have held 59 outings. Email Ivan at ivankris10@gmail.com to get added to the list or if you are interested in helping with event logistics and planning.

Brockton calls for a report on possible sale of Saugeen Municipal Airport

— By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times (Photo: Pauline Kerr,  The Walkerton Herald Times)

BROCKTON – Brockton council gave the go-ahead for a detailed staff report on Saugeen Municipal Airport. The report will “evaluate the service and the potential implications of a sale or dissolution of the organization.”

The Sept. 12 council meeting was held in the downstairs hall at Elmwood Community Centre. One community member attended the meeting; also in attendance were SMA commission chair Dave Hocking, and vice-chair Tom Hutchinson. Carl Kuhnke, Brockton’s representative on SMAC, was absent.

The staff report presented at the meeting stated, in part, that “during budget deliberations… Brockton had the opportunity to consider the ongoing funding contribution made to Saugeen Municipal Airport, noting the large fundraising goals that had been included in the proposed budget. Council of the Municipality of Brockton had also identified the need to evaluate the service and the benefits it provides to all Brockton residents.”

Brockton council directed staff to send a letter to West Grey and Hanover, the other two partners in ownership of the airport, “inviting them to consider a sale of the asset, or a voluntary winding up.”

Staff have recommended preparation of a comprehensive report evaluating the service and the possible sale of the asset.

A copy of the letter sent to West Grey and Hanover, along with a piece of correspondence sent to Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody by Hocking, were included in the agenda package.

The letter to the other two municipalities, dated Sept. 8, commends the volunteers and pilots who have been instrumental in the continued operation of the airport since its beginning in 1990. The letter goes on to describe the financial challenges facing many municipalities, and the need for Brockton to “consider the long-term viability of this service (SMA) and its benefits to all Brockton residents.”

The letter further states, “In light of the current economic conditions, Council of the Municipality of Brockton believes that now is the time for… Brockton to consider the future of the Saugeen Municipal Airport, and whether it should continue as a municipally-subsidized organization, particularly given the jurisdictional challenges associated with the competing provincial and federal regulations.”

The letter invites West Grey and Hanover to join Brockton in undertaking “a public process to consider authorizing a sale” of the SMA, potentially to an entity that would allow the facility to continue as an airport, or to dissolve the partnership that owns the airport.

The first step, according to the letter, would be a staff report, either prepared jointly or separately, “on all aspects of the airport.” This process would be followed by a motion by each municipality on its intent regarding the future of the SMA.

If neither West Grey nor Hanover is willing to undertake this process, Brockton council “is of the opinion that the cost-sharing agreement that was put in place in 2005 should be reviewed and renegotiated in the near future as Arran-Elderslie is still mentioned as a party to the agreement.”

There was a brief discussion among the council members in attendance.

Coun. Kym Hutcheon said, “I do not like it that taxpayers continue to subsidize the airport.”

Coun. Tim Elphick stated he thought it “prudent” for council to review the service provided by the SMA. He also called for input from the SMA as part of the report.

Coun. Greg McLean said he “looks forward to a report that outlines the nuts and bolts” of the airport operation.

Coun. Mitch Clark made it unanimous, saying the report should provide a comprehensive look at “where the money is going,” and evaluate what service is being provided.

Diamond DA42-VI flying with Sustainable Aviation Fuel for first time

A Diamond DA42-VI training aircraft, powered by the Austro Engine AE300, carries out circuit of the aerodrome at Bremen airport. (Photo: Bremen Airport)

A Diamond DA42-VI training aircraft from the European Flight Academy, a brand of Lufthansa Aviation Training GmbH (LAT), on September 23 made a few circuits of the aerodrome at Bremen Airport using Sustainable Aviation Fuel for the first time. Diamond explains the flight was the result of intensive preparation between LAT, Diamond Aircraft, and the engine manufacturer Austro Engine.

Bremen Airport was chosen for this flight, as it counts among the first airports in Germany to stock and refuel with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) provided by World Fuel Services. This SAF is obtained from oil waste, aquatic plants and soil plants in Ghent, Belgium. In a first step, Diamond explains the oils and fats are hydrogenated and then refined in a similar way to fossil fuels.

The event is described as a kickoff for extensive tests with blended SAF. Unblended neat SAF has been proven to generate up to 80 per cent less CO2 emissions than conventional kerosene, explains Diamond., which anticipates increasing availability of ASTM D7566 SAF blends as a drop-in fuel for General Aviation in the coming years. The company plans to release the entire fleet for this fuel mix by the end of 2025. Significant market penetration of SAFs is expected by 2030 and availability of 100% pure SAFs without blending for 2050.

“SAF is the most immediately available key to reducing CO2 emissions in aviation,” said Robert Kremnitzer, Head of Design Organization at Diamond Aircraft Austria. “The majority of the Diamond fleet can benefit directly from using kerosene piston engines. We are very pleased to be able to demonstrate this as a model example through the cooperation with our partner LAT and Bremen Airport, and we are convinced that we will jointly pave the way here.”