Here are vignettes of just a few of our Happenings in Canada in a typical year.
June 2005 - Annual COPA Convention - Wetaskiwin, Alberta
In June we were in Western Canada for the annual Canadian Owners and Pilots Association convention at Wetaskiwin Airport near Edmonton. Mike and Tracy Hughes and daughters Amanda, Holly, Lauren of ChallengerWest, our new Alberta dealer, manned the booth - oops, womanned the booth! Majority rules!
We had a partially assembled Challenger quick-build kit on display which drew tons of interest and questions. The convention was a great success and lots of local owners came by to chat. A few Challengers managed to fly in despite the rather damp weather. Damp? Can you spell MONSOON? Rob Saurette actually flew his amphib Challenger II 503 all the way from Winnipeg to Edmonton to attend. More on this in Seven League Boots.
August 2005 - Comox International Airshow - British Columbia
Challenger owner Dale Erhart, a former fighter pilot now flying for Air Canada, was invited to display his Challenger on amphibious floats at the show.
Here's what else was there: CF-100, CF-101 Voodoo, CF-104 Starfighter, CF-18 Hornet, F-16 Falcon, P51 Mustang, Mustang II, Chipmunk, Harvard, T-6, T-28,T-33, Canadair Tutor, Delfin L29, Yak 52, B-52, King Air, Douglas DC-3, Buffalo, Sea King, Griffon, Cormorant, Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane, Jet Ranger, Grumman Tracker, Mig-21, Sopwith Triplane, Vampire, Vertol H-21, T67C Slingsby, P-3C Orion, CP-140 Aurora, F-117 Stealth, B-2 Spirit, L-19 Bird Dog, Steen Skybolt, Fouga Magister, Martin Mars Water Bomber, and, last but of course not least, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. Not bad company eh!
Dale had suggested that Bryan Quickmire send some business cards "in case people were interested in the Challenger and wanted more information" ...
"You won't believe it.... or maybe you will. When you sent that many cards, I thought that's ridiculous, I'll never hand out that many. They were gone before noon! The plane had an exclusive location and the crowd averaged around 20 for most of the day. Folks had tons of questions and showed incredible interest. It certainly made a splash! Several folks already had your video and one young lad had your business card in his wallet. Most had never seen anything like it and fell in love at first sight. As you can see it showed well."
"I think it went very well especially as my wife Laurel was there (she worked as a St. John First Aid volunteer). I would tell folks how much she loves the Challenger and she would drop by often to confirm my claims. She especially loves the floats as we can fly so low over the Straight and inland over the many great little lakes."
"Let me know what feedback you get and if they need more info from me."
September 2005 - Fly-in at Stanley, Nova Scotia
Halifax Challenger owner and dealer Allan Tuttle of Atlantic Sport Aviation was chairman of this year's annual Stanley fly-in which is the Maritime region's major recreational aviation event.
New Brunswick Challenger owner Darren Dodge wrote the following:
"Hi all, I just have to comment on the fine job done by the fly-in committee at Stanley NS this past weekend. This weekend long event was blessed by great weather and it would seem that I was the farthest Challenger there with the trip in from Woodstock NB. The flight down took 3 hours and even at the most economical power setting the ground speed a few times went just over 100mph. After a stopover in Sussex, NB for fuel I carried on across the beautiful Bay of Fundy region. Watching the tides flowing in around Spit Point, one can see just how much water flows there."
"Upon arrival at Stanley, I was marshalled to a parking location and welcomed by the folks there. Before I had really the chance to even get to the washroom, I was inundated by people curious about my Challenger and how the floats operated, etc. It was fun being the center of attention when you are surrounded by many larger GA aircraft and some really sharp homebuilts. And I do have to say that C-IWRD looked sharp standing tall on the floats in the flight line. There were 6 other beautiful Challengers present on the field as well as many Challenger owners who drove in from points as far away as Newfoundland."
"Saturday's activities ranged from flour bombing and precision approach contests for the pilots, to bake sales, candy drops, etc for the rest of the family. Food was available all weekend from a canteen truck with very reasonable prices and some very good homemade fish and chips (homecut not frozen fries!!!). There were forums by COPA, UPAC, Transport Canada and Aerotech engines. Saturday night was the auction - very humorous - followed by a bonfire with a local group playing good old downeast foot stomping music."
"I would urge any Challenger owners in the Canadian east or U.S. north east to try to attend next year as we would like to see this event continue to grow."
September 2005 - Fly-in at Carleton Place, Ontario
Carleton Place, near Ottawa, is home base to nearly a dozen Challengers and their annual post Labour Day fly-in has become a must-do item for Ontario and Quebec owners. This year 25 Challengers came! Greg Kett won the Farthest Flown award for his flight on floats from Guelph. Greg is a former Private Pilot now a Challenger Pilot and this was his first float season. Here's an excerpt from an email Greg sent just before he headed east:
"I heard a noise I've never heard before in my Challenger. It was the floats touching the water, and that was it, my first landing. I sat in the plane with my knees shaking for a few minutes and realized it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. For one thing you're landing into the wind, the air above the water is calm and you don't have to aim for and keep aligned with a runway.
"I listened to the water lapping against my floats and thought this is the coolest thing I've done in a long time, the other resulting in getting grass stains on my pyjamas, but that's another story."
"The take off was ok I guess, I cranked the flaperons all the way down and held the stick back with my mighty python type arms. I was out of the water in about 10 to 15 seconds I figure. Once the floats get up on the step speed increases quickly. I did a few more landings today and find I would rather land on water than a runway, but my dream cottage is just that, a dream. I am flying up to my friends' cottage next week near Sharbot Lake and Saturday will head over to the fly-in at Carleton Place. There is no stopping me now!"
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