December 8, 2016

Pacific Perspective – The big banquet


The big banquet

Tony Swain


Mary and I were delighted to attend the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame’s 37th Induction Ceremony here in Vancouver, as guests of Blain and Marlene Fowler. Blain is a long time Western Warbirds friend and CAHF Director. This glittering affair was held in the theatre at Richmond’s River Rock Casino Resort, a wonderful venue. Over 280 guests attended.

So many old friends were there from the Quarter Century in Aviation Club, Transport Canada, et al… Some came over and gave my Mary a big hug… and me just a handshake! Sigh.

At our table, was Jack Boddington, resplendent in bemedalled mess kit. Blain says Jack was Master of Ceremonies for 36 years! Transpired his brother, and Mary’s two uncles, went through WW-2 Commando training with Fitzroy MacLean at Camp X, to eventually parachute behind enemy lines.

Also on Table 8 were, Alberta Committee member Ron Bell, then Willy Laserich’s nominator, Guenther Moellenbeck, and is sister Regy Hagedorn, an accomplished fine artist.

The ceremonies opened with the ‘Entry of Inductees’ escorted by the magnificent Vancouver Police Pipe Band, with Cadets from the Richmond and Steveston Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadrons, culminating in a Grand Welcome to all from Chairman John Holding.

Then followed an excellent dinner, of Lobster Bisque soup, Pecan salad, Charbroiled Beef Tenderloin, and White Chocolate Mousse, set off with fine Merlot or Chardonnay!

Following an enthusiastic ‘Toast to the Queen,’ the attending ‘Members of the Hall’ were introduced, as were those ‘Belt of Orion’ recipients present, and we were proud to stand with our colleagues of COPA, long time holders of this honour. Then, prior to the presentations, our host Blain, proposed the toast to the Members of the Hall.


This year’s four inductees covered a wide spectrum of aviation; Redford Mulock, DSO, CBE, of Winnipeg, (1886-1961), was Canada’s first Ace as a WWI RNAS pilot, with over five victories. Vi Milstead Warren, OC, (1919 – ) of Ontario ferried military aircraft with the ATA in the UK from 1943 to ’45, and later became one of Canada’s first female bush pilots.

Willy Laserich, (1932- 2007) a 1952 German immigrant, in the subsequent 50 years flew over 3,000 medevac flights and 100 Arctic search and rescue operations with his company, Adlair Aviation Ltd. And finally, Montreal’s Julie Payette, commercial and military pilot, recent Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency, and after having spent over 25 days in space, now works at Mission Control Centre in Houston.

The presentations were made by John holding, Chairman CAHF, and Lt.-General Andre Deschamps, CD, Canada’s Chief of Air Staff. Following these inductions, Lt.-Gen Deschamps addressed the assembly re the ongoing update of Canada’s Air Force capabilities.

Closing remarks were by Jack McGee.

The Hall of Fame is based at the Reynolds Alberta Aviation Museum of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and the event was ably organized by volunteers of the B.C. Aviation Council.

From our perspective, it was a great honour to be part of this wonderful event, and to feel that in some small way we represented personal aviation activity in Canada. I shook hands with an astronaut, and joined the group around our Chief of Air Staff. Never, as a lowly RAF Pilot Officer, did I ever expect, or aspire, to be in such exalted company!


Tis the season of air shows and fly-ins! And we’ve been well endowed with these around here this year. Without our beloved Harvard Bessy, we don’t get about to the far off events as we used to. So when our various fly club friends set up booths at Boundary Bay for the annual show, I jumped in our little Mazda and buzzed over there. It’s a free show, much like a huge village fair.

There were helicopter rides and a prize flight in a Yak aircraft. There were skydivers and vintage warbirds. Instructor Mike Peare acrobatted around in a Decathlon, and local Mister Magic Mrazek cracked about in his Czech L-29 ex-military jet!

A Skybolt, Sukhoi, Cormorant, a Eurocopter, and the Fraser Blues strutted their stuff. Six Harvards and big Jerry’s Beech 18 formatted about, and the Harvards later held a Pseudo Reno Air Race. Airport boss Fred Kaiser even flew by in his CJ-2. All great fun.

For comparison, a couple of Dutch NATO instructors brought a CAF CT-156, the modern Harvard II, over ‘The Rocks’ from Moose Jaw. Wouldn’t mind having a go in one of those!

But for real nostalgic heart ache, there on the ramp was Tom Rogers’ T-33 Silver Star, resplendent in Gimli paint scheme. However, for the first course in 1953, they were plain polished metal, simple red, white, and blue fin flashes, and no school badge. Just awaiting some ‘final’ paperwork to go fly-about! Sigh!

In the fine new terminal, local members of the Canadian Aviation Artist’s Association showed off their evocative works. Our Delta friend, Ginny Ivanicki, proudly displayed her national award winning painting, Harvards over Boundary Bay. She’s soon coming up for her pilot license flight test!

This was a great friendly event, attended personally by Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, Councilor Scott Hamilton, and other luminaries. A wonderful event that melded aviation people with the local community.


This year’s Langley Aero Club’s Fly-in was a great success with more than 85 visiting aircraft, and a fine row of the Canadian Museum of Flight vintage aircraft parked across from all the booths and food tents.

Some folk flew in from quite a ways, and a ramp tour was fascinating. Sadly, I’m not the greatest walker these days, so I do a lot of sitting and a’watching, sigh!

I particularly enjoyed Simon Meares round engine, almost Tcraft look-alike, Meares Mk 1, with its neat (and clean) Rotec 110 radial. Painted in proper colour too… See-Me yellow.

The familiar roar of Vic Bentley’s Harvard 4 taking a few folks for rides made The Mary and my hearts skip a nostalgic beat. After 37 years of old Bessy, we can’t forget the wonderful magic of that fabulous flying machine, and get all teary eyed at the inimitable sound of a Wasp at full fine pitch chat.

Vic even came and told me about it. How he’d taken a young kid for his first ‘small’ plane ride in his Harvard. The kid was enthralled… I’ll bet he was. Sigh.

There was even a baby Harvard for kids too young to try the real thing. A great day all round.


Regular life goes on at Delta, the second Sunday breakfasts, plans for the next Junior Aviators day, and the Annual Canada Day Open House.

Fred Glasbergen dropped by with his SeaRey-95, Ray Roussey completed the Annual on his Fraser Blues Super Navion, and our artist Ginny Ivanicki got a mind-blowing Stearman ride from Kevin Maher, who spent all afternoon, at the Open House, giving rides in this magnificent machine to all and sundry.

There was a good turnout of visitors considering the iffy weather. A grand gathering of vintage cars appeared and great row of 1950-era MG T types arrived for lunch, enticed by my friend Siggy.

The hamburgers were superb, and later, the roast beef barbecue dinner was very tasty.

A number of old friends dropped by and everyone had a wonderful time. Kudos to the volunteers and parking marshallers for a smooth running event.

And I guess that’s all for this time… So fly safe… And oh yes, in my July column, two photo captions were inadvertently switched, about Ken’s Thorpe 18 fuel system and Alex’s intriguing ignition mod. Did anyone notice?

Tony & The Mary, The Old Copaguys in Vancouver,