November 15, 2023

Rampulla receives COPA Appreciation Award

Jon Robinson

— Text and photo by Phil Lightstone

The Buttonville Flying Club, COPA Flight 44, held its last meeting at Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ) on November 8, with the airport scheduled to close on November 30. The meeting was held in the airport’s main terminal, which affords a large open area with ample seating and tables. The meeting combined the club’s Annual General Meeting with a potluck holiday dinner. More than 40 members were in attendance with eight attending over Zoom conferencing.

Buttonville Flying Club (BFC) Safety Officer, David Cox, presented COPA’s Appreciation Award to Charlie Rampulla “in recognition of his significant contributions to support and promote General Aviation flying in Canada”. Charlie’s flying career has spanned seven decades, accumulating over 15,000 hours, beginning in 1967 (his first flight) at age 19.

Charlie’s career highlights includes: Transport Canada; owned the Markham Airport; King City airport flight school; Island Air; Canadian Flyers; Brampton Flight Centre; to name a few. Beginning in 1972, Charlie performed his duties as a Pilot Examiner as well as an air traffic controller, retiring from ATC in 1992 to devote his time to developing a computer services business.

In the year 2000, Charlie returned to his training roots as a senior instructor at Island Air for a year. In 2008, Charlie returned to the Flight Examiner role with Transport Canada and in 2009 earned his qualification for Multi-IFR Flight Examiner status Over his many years as a Transport Canada Examiner and his experiences as a flight Instructor, Charlie has trained over 300+ Flight Instructors and has trained numerous IFR pilots.

Club president David Sprague announced that a location has been secured for future meetings beginning in January 2024. Nick Bartzis, President of the STS Group will be hosting the BFC’s monthly Wednesday evening meeting (second Wednesday of most months) at his new location in Markham, ON. Checkout the BFC’s website at for more information.

“It is a tragedy to lose an iconic airport in a great location providing benefits to the community,” said Nick Bartzis. “I think that there is so many people who have passed through the airport contributing to the community as a whole. A lot of people who I’ve never meet before, have called to share their stories about flying out of Buttonville. How many people have flown on commercial flights, with pilots trained at Buttonville? Where are the future aviators going to come from if we are closing airports in urban centres where there is a high density of future commercial pilots?

“For me, flying clubs, like the Buttonville Flying Club, are a link between old and new pilots. One way of learning is hearing other pilot’s experiences,” continued Bartzis. “Sharing will help to create and build enthusiasm in young future pilots. The absence of this link leaves kids to dream with no understanding of how to start, which is important to bridge the gap, subsequently my support of the Buttonville flying Club’s monthly meetings. In 1998, one member of BFC helped to mold me as an international flying pilot. Billy Lowe, [aka Bahama Billy] sat down with me for an afternoon educating me about flying into the U.S. and the Bahamas. Billy got me excited about spreading my wings to cross the U.S. Canada Border. As a result, I’m happy to support the Buttonville Flying Club.”