What would motivate pilots to fly
long distances aboard ultralights on skis in the middle of the winter to
a riverside log cabin? Why would aficionados drive long distances to that
same log cabin? How about this: past fly-ins at this cabin, actually a
log castle, have hosted 36 Challengers and over 200 people!
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
invites Challenger owners and fans as well as all aviation enthusiasts
to congregate at Chateau Montebello
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our theme for 2012 is
SNOW 'n FUN
Of course we've all heard of Sun 'n Fun held in Florida.
It's the rites of spring!
(Click any image to enlarge!)
Come alone, bring a friend or arrive with your entire family, but
donít miss this
Make your hotel and banquet reservations
NOW to avoid disappointment!
This event is organized by Major (Ret.) Claude "Crash" Roy, director of the Challenger Owners Association, with the help of Bryan Quickmire, President of National Ultralight Inc., Canadian Distributor of the Challenger line of aircraft.
This skiplane fly-in is a wonderful opportunity to look at Challengers close up, exchange information, tell flying tales and socialize with fellow owners and enthusiasts. There'll be great food, warm fires and a plethora of activities, including dog sledding and swimming (outdoors and indoors respectively).
The Chateau Montebello, located on the Ottawa River mid way between Ottawa and Montreal, is the world's largest and most spectacular log cabin. It is known around the globe - for good reason: the food is gourmet, the rooms luxurious, the fireplaces roaring and the ambiance magnifique. It's the perfect place for airplane buffs to bring spouses and children for a mid-winter escape.
36 Challengers and well over 200 aficionados have attended past Rendezvous!
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous typically attracts over 200 attendees from across the length and breadth of Canada as well as from the USA. In the middle of winter there have been 36 Challengers on skis parked together outside! The Rendezvous has become the premier fly-in / drive-in of the Canadian winter.
Refresh your memory with pictures and reports from Rendezvous past:
2010: 20th Annual! The Big Two Oh! Pictures & Videos!
"Montebello is worth the experience for any wannabe. My first trip there by car years ago set the path even though I didn't realize it at the time. Wandering around on the snow covered river among a buzz of Challengers and owners I got the sense of a real close group. Everyone shared information willingly and was proud as punch to show you their airplane. Oh how I longed for the day this would be me showing off my Challenger!" -- John Woudstra, Owner.
The Chateau Montebello is the world's largest and most spectacular log cabin. Built in 1930 from 10,000 red cedar logs, the star-shaped structure was constructed in a mere three months by 800 log crafters armed only with axes and scribers. Three crews worked 24 hours a day in overlapping shifts! Their efforts seem to have paid off - Chateau Montebello is known around the globe and has hosted meetings of world leaders, including the 1981 G-7.
Now, every conceivable form of outdoor winter activity is offered, including dog sledding! For less hardy souls, there is an indoor Olympic-size pool and a brand new spa which is rated fabulous.
The food is gourmet, the rooms luxurious, the fireplace roaring and the ambiance magnifique.
All that plus it's informal - jeans are quite acceptable throughout the hotel during the whole weekend.
The Challenger Owners Association is always fortunate to be honoured by the attendance of distinguished guests at its events. Past dignitaries include (in alphabetical order, by first name since this is an informal gathering):
-- Arlo Speer - Director, Recreational Aviation, Transport Canada
The Rendezvous will kick off Friday at sunset (or earlier!) when the attendees will gravitate to the lobby bar for libations and laughter around the magnificent three-story six-sided granite fireplace. This is an excellent opportunity for people new to the Challenger community to meet other enthusiasts - name badges will be issued and introductions made. Once appetites are whetted the group disperses for dinner. Most dine at Aux Chantignoles (fine French cuisine) or La Seigneurie (bistro fare) in the Chateau while a few stroll into the nearby village where the local plates are excellent.
On Saturday morning the local flyers and drivers start arriving around 9 or 10 and by lunch time most are there. The long distance flyers and drivers plus the true enthusiasts usually arrive on Friday or even Thursday. Lucky them! Saturday before lunch is the best time to watch Challengers arriving from all directions.
All through the day people wander down to congregate on the ice in front of the Chateau chatting and looking over the Challengers with an eye to casting their ballot for "Best Showplane". Other popular spots to mingle include the lobby around the fireplace in comfy chairs and at the scrumptious buffet luncheon.
This Rendezvous features six Saturday daytime sessions. Refreshments will be served at 10:00 and again at 15:00 courtesy of National Ultralight. Registration, which is free, begins after breakfast in the main lobby and will be easy to find!
At 10:30 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire will hold an information session on Challenger news and happenings across Canada including the announcement of a new Challenger Light Sport model for 2012.
The 2011 Challenger calendar started at Montebello in February with perfect weather and a huge turnout of people and planes. In the summer we held Westebello and Eastebello in the west and east respectively along with the Edenvale Open House and Carleton Place Fly-in in the centre. As the cliche goes, a good time was had by all! In 2012 the same full slate of events is planned. Stay tuned to challenger.ca for details.
The new Challenger Light Sport XS-50 and XL-65 models proved to be a great success, not totally surprising since they were designed expressly for our Canadian missions. The new LS models are easier to fly, more rugged, more ergonomic and easier to build. They carry bigger payloads faster over longer distances. At this session Bryan will announce another new model in the Light Sport series. Come and hear the details!
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Glenn Kennedy will give a pictorial travelogue titled Challenger Superior Challenge. Last June with only 120 hours total time logged Glenn set off alone on a thousand mile amphibious voyage from Edenvale up and along the wild north shore of Lake Superior to his family cottage on Lake of the Woods near Kenora. Not bad for his first cross-country!
At 14:00 there will be two concurrent sessions. In the Quebec Room the dynamic duo of Dale Erhart and Darwin Dzuba from Comox, B.C. will team up to offer their experiences with Challenger building and flying on the West Coast. Dale will present "From F-18 to A340 to Global Express - A Challenger Pilot's Perspective". Darwin will share insights into the assembly of his meticulously crafted Challenger.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, Daniel Sasseville from Aťro Propulsion Technologies in St-Lazare, QC, will offer his expert views on the care and feeding of Rotax engines. Rotax engines are by far the most popular not just in Challengers but in all of the advanced ultralight and light sport aircraft sector. Daniel's insights will help attendees understand how proper maintenance and operation can help owners experience years of trouble-free enjoyment.
At 15:30, after a refreshment break, there will be two more concurrent sessions. In the Ontario Room, Rob Lake of Lake Aviation in Kingston, ON, will use pictures and words to detail his recent assembly of a new Challenger Light Sport XS-50. As well he will elaborate on its flying qualities as compared to classic Challengers. Rob will also discuss the assembly of a Challenger Light Sport XL-65 which he began after completing the XS-50. Rob has assembled all the major Challenger models, new and old, 582 and 503, so he will be a great source of technical information. Rob and Bryan Quickmire will be available for questions and answers after Rob's presentation.
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Kathy Lubitz, President, Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), will inform us of the very latest in the ultralight world, including regulatory directions in Canada and the United States. Frank Hofmann, in his dual role of Eastern Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, COPA, and Canadian Representative at the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), will join Kathy and will give his thoughts on the latest trends in the world of personal aviation.
After the afternoon sessions there will be ample time before the banquet to head back down to the Challengers on the ice or to mingle in the lobby.
Saturday evening the banquet will be held in the Chateau's private dining hall so we can talk the Challenger talk and walk the Challenger walk. Dress is casual - wear jeans if you wish or an informal tuxedo. The meal will be superb, the company will be stimulating. Awards will be presented. Challenger events for 2012 will be announced: Westebello, Eastebello, the Float Tour...
The evening's post-banquet entertainment will feature a presentation by Kevin Brown, Claude Roy and Patrick Vinet about their float flying pilgrimage to Greenville, Maine, this past summer. There the trio participated in the 39th annual edition of the biggest seaplane fly-in in the world, won three awards and even made the local news!
COPA Flight had its January 2012 cover and many pages dedicated to the flock's exploits. Click the image above for the article with text and pictures.
The article concluded with a sage observation: For more than 20 years now, the International Challenger Owners Association has organized yearly ultralight group adventures like this one. By now, we hope you realize that the amount of fun and thrill you derive from adventure flying has nothing to do with the size of your airplane. In fact, we dare say it is inversely proportional: the smaller your airplane, the bigger your fun and thrill of flying it!
On Sunday after partaking of the Chateau's top notch buffet breakfast there will be much hustle and bustle as the flyers prepare their Challengers for the return home. For the more local participants there will be an optional group fly/drive to the renowned Willow Inn near Montreal to partake of their excellent fare. Come if your figure dares!
The Saturday night banquet is the venue for presentation of the Challenger Owners Association awards which convey accolades to worthy owners from their peers. The ceremony starts with recognition of the dedicated Challenger owners who flew in to the Rendezvous. Then the trophies for "Farthest Flown" and "Best Showplane" are presented.
Following this is the presentation of the two highest honours of the COA - the Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award.
The Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was founded in 2001 to honour the late Maurice Vinet who passed away from cancer in 2000. Maurice's company Puddlejumper Floats opened up new realms of pleasure for Challenger owners worldwide and is now run by his son Patrick Vinet. The Vinet Award is presented to a Challenger pilot who exemplifies Maurice's passion for flight.
The Dave Allan Memorial Award was founded in 2007 to be given each year to a member of the Challenger community who has made a substantial contribution of a technical nature. Dave Allan passed away from cancer in 2006. Dave was an extremely talented and knowledgeable Challenger builder and inspector. He gave freely of his time to owners across Canada who called for advice and he welcomed visitors to his workshop.
Click here for the list of past award winners - it makes very interesting reading!
You may recall that in 1999 an intrepid group of voyageurs made an eight day, 2,000 km trip in their amphibious Challengers. (See Float Flying Adventure.)
That was the first of what has turned out to be the Annual Challenger Float Tour. Since then Challengers have explored the majestic fjords of the Saguenay Region, the granite rocks of Georgian Bay and the miles long sand beaches of Lake Huron.
At the banquet we will discuss plans for the 2012 voyage to be organized by Claude Roy. This will be the longest and most ambitious group flight to date. This flying adventure, dubbed "Going Deep South", will take the flock south of Birmingham, Alabama, to visit Challenger owner Dave Cunningham. Dave has his very own seaplane base on Lay Lake, in central Alabama: the ICAO identifier is 46AL and the GPS coordinates are N33 11.657 W086 27.812.
This journey will cover 2,500 statute miles and stretch over three weeks. The departure target is Saturday 15 September 2012 from the Ottawa area. Participating pilots must have one full year of Challenger experience plus one full season of float flying.
The adventurers will take lots of pictures for a feature presentation to be given at the 2013 Winter Rendezvous at Chateau Montebello.
If you are interested to join the flock for all or part of the itinerary or to meet the group en route then get in touch with Claude directly. His contact info is here.
If you donít have the experience to do trips like these then start small - fly a day trip to a local, but new to you, place. Today the back yard, tomorrow the world!
Following are overviews of just a few of the past Challenger float tours...
In 2003 the Challenger tour went south to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to pay respects to the Wright Brothers on the 100th anniversary of the first sustained heavier-than-air powered flight. In 2009 it was only fitting that the tour should head east to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada. An account of this pilgrimage was rendered at the 2010 banquet with many great pictures. Click the pic at left to have a look at the December 2009 issue of COPA Flight. The cover has a terrific shot of a trio of these Challengers flying in formation along the shore of the St. Lawrence. The photos on the cover and the following pages will whet your appetite for such adventure!
On the 2008 float tour five Challengers on amphibious floats flew
in formation around the Great Lakes to the Challenger 25th Anniversary
celebrations in southern Illinois. This adventure was featured in the January
2009 issue of COPA Flight
which gave COPA's 20,000 readers a taste of the unique world of flight
experienced by our Challenger community - the adventure and camaraderie
to be enjoyed on such voyages.
The 2006 Challenger Summer Float Tour, dubbed "Le grand tour du Québec", visited such exotic spots in Northern Quebec as St-Bruno-de Guigues, Rouyn, Val d'Or, Senneterre, Clova, Parent, Wetomaci, La Tuque, Lac-à-Jim and Canadian Forces Base Bagotville. The 2005 voyage was to the north shore of the world's largest inland sea - Lake Superior!
In August 2004 another float flying adventure happened, this one to Quebec's St-Lawrence North Shore as far as Natashquan. Claude Roy, Andre Girard and Tom Reavell visited enchanting places like Charlevoix, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Iles, the Mingan Archipelago and one of the world's most exclusive deer preserves: Anticosti Island.
The 5th annual floatplane adventure took place in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first heavier-than-air flight by the Wright Brothers. On this momentous occasion the destination was the birthplace of aviation, the sand dunes of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The flock crossed the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. On the way back, the States of Delaware and New Jersey were also visited. In 2002 instead of the east coast of the United States it was the east coast of Canada - Prince Edward Island - and in 2001 the east coat of Lake Huron.
In August 2000 a group of Challengers became the first Canadian ultralights to attend Oshkosh with its 10,000+ aircraft and nearly 1 million people! This marked the opening of the United States border to Canadian ultralight aircraft and pilots. In a historic role, the Canadian Challenger Owners Association spearheaded the regulatory changes to permit such cross-border flights. Accolades were received from the EAA and COPA as well as from the FAA and Transport Canada! In 2010 a Challenger flock returned for the 10th anniversary.
Again this year, groups of owners of ski-equipped Challengers are planning to fly in formation to the Challenger meet, adjusting their itineraries to allow other Challengers to join up en route. We would like to extend an invitation to other Challenger owners to join them and participate in an aerial odyssey.
Join a flock, come solo or, better still, organize a formation from your local area! The aerial odyssey is a wonderful opportunity to put some lasting memories in your logbook. Earmark a few days of your vacation backlog and come along! Of course flight plans are subject to weather so leave slack in your schedule!
This is true adventure - a great start to your plan to expand the horizon!
For more information or to join up with a group or form one yourself contact Major Roy at the email address or phone number given on this page here.
Those fortunate enough to be owners coming by Challenger will find the flight easy and beautiful. As the GPS flies, the Chateau is at N45 39 / W74 57. This is just west of the village of Montebello, Quebec, on the north shore of the Ottawa River which is an endless runway for Challengers on skis. Secure tie-downs will be located in the protected harbour in front of the hotel. Auto gas will be available.
Monitor radio frequencies 122.75 en route and 123.2 within
If you're coming by car (quel dommage!), Montebello is 80 km from Ottawa: cross to Hull and go east on 148. From Montreal it's 120 km: take the Trans Canada west to Hawkesbury, cross the bridge to Quebec and go west on 148. The Chateau is on the south side of 148, just west of the village of Montebello. The address is 392 rue Notre Dame.
The deadline for reserving places at the banquet is Friday 27 January 2012.
Make your hotel and banquet reservations NOW to avoid disappointment!
Contact the hotel directly for your room and contact Major Claude Roy directly
To reserve your room at the Chateau Montebello call the reservation line at 1-800-441-1414 or call the chateau direct at 819-423-6341. All rooms have much character and many have two double beds.
To get our special low group rate of $195 tell the operator you
are with the Challenger Owners group.
Ours is a VERY popular event so the Chateau does tend to get fully booked VERY quickly. If you call and that is the case then there are a number of quite charming alternatives in the picturesque village of Montebello nearby. Everyone who has stayed there has been pleased with the accommodations.
Click below for information on these inns and B&B's:
Le Clos des Cedres - 819-423-1265
If you are silly enough to procrastinate even longer and even those alternatives are sold out then contact Major Roy for assistance. His email and phone info appears at the end of this page. Do this soon or bring a tent and sleeping bag!
At the Saturday evening banquet a sumptuous hot and cold buffet will be served and bar facilities will be available. The price is $55.00 per adult and $27.50 per child (under 12), including tax and tip.
The Chateau needs to know by Monday 30 January 2012 how many people they will be accommodating at the banquet. This is because before serve-off Tableau Canada requires chefs to calculate the C of G (Centre of Gastronomy) to ensure they are within limits on the W&B (Waist and Belt).
Accordingly Claude needs a firm commitment of your presence at the banquet one week prior to the event - ie Friday 27 January 2012. This confirmation should be in the form of a personal cheque sent to Claude at your earliest convenience and dated 27 January 2012 at the latest. The amount of your cheque should cover the full amount of your reserved seat(s).
If you have confirmed seats at the banquet and cannot attend for any reason, for example on the way to Montebello you are beamed aboard a flying saucer and dissected, then Claude's lovely wife Joan will attempt to sell your tickets at the door to the mob of standby hopefuls. In the past when this has occurred a full refund has always been issued. (Of course a refund is the least of your problems if you were just dissected by aliens!)
If you do not have a confirmed seat then you can still come on a standby basis since there's always a few people with tickets who do not show up. (See preceding paragraph for details.)
If you do not get on board the banquet standby then you can dine in the Chateau's main restaurant or bistro (not the worst fate imaginable!) and then rejoin the group around 9 pm for the official program.
OFFICIAL CHALLENGER OWNERS ASSOCIATION LETTERS
Members of the Challenger Owners Association without email receive a letter from Claude Roy giving details of plans for the upcoming Winter Rendezvous and summarizing the highlights of the previous year. Click here, en français ici.
The main switchboard number at the Chateau Montebello is 819-423-6341.
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