June 14, 2019

COPA Western Convention Attracts Hundreds


By any measure, except perhaps the weather, the 2019 COPA Convention and Trade Show was a resounding success. Around 350 COPA members showed up, plus around 50 people from nearby communities who took an interest in the event and attended too.

The weather was fine on Thursday, but Friday saw constant rain throughout the day with the temperature reaching only 5° C. Saturday’s weather was much more comfortable. Regardless, the weather did not dampen the spirits of the attendees, with the Black Rifle Coffee café doing a brisk business selling lots of delicious coffee to those taking refuge inside the tradeshow venue. Twenty-three exhibitors, from ForeFlight to the 99s, were sharing that space. 

A total of 70 aircraft showed up for the fly-in, with some pilots pitching tents alongside their airplane. Another 40 campers attended with their RVs, all accommodated within walking distance of the venue. Pilot Glenn Chong provided helicopter sightseeing rides in his Bell 47 in exchange for a donation to COPA’s Freedom to Fly fund.

There was excellent attendance at the various classroom sessions, with the one on mountain flying by Mike Edgar among the most popular, with standing room only. There was also a course on aircraft fabric covering, put on by Gary Hillman. Ryan Van Haren’s seminars on declaring emergencies were also very popular.

Also taking place at the convention was COPA’s AGM, which was live-streamed on Facebook. The vacant director position in the Maritimes was filled by the appointment of Debbie Brekelmans of Halifax. Brekelmans is chief pilot of Sable Aviation, previously pilot for Maritime Air, and you can learn more about her and what she does by watching this CBC News video clip.

The pilot who flew the longest distance to attend the convention was COPA’s own Carter Mann, who arrived in his Nanchang CJ-6 from Ottawa.

When contacted today by eFlight, COPA’s president and CEO Bernard Gervais said, “The fun, the warmth and the hospitality outshone the weather which was just a minor inconvenience for the crowd we had out there. The airport was perfect for a grassroots aviation gathering in Western Canada.”

Finally, no event like this can be as successful as Innisfail was without numerous volunteers. Since the COPA Flight 130 – Innisfail Flying Club has only 30 members, and there were 75 volunteers in all, the club was obviously successful in recruiting others to help out. Such is traditional western hospitality that we doubt they had much trouble doing that. 

Kudos go out to all volunteers for the excellent work you provided.