Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, 2014
So is that a superb reason to get out of your cabin in the middle of winter?
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
invites Challenger owners and fans as well as all aviation enthusiasts
to congregate at Chateau Montebello
This is a lengthy page with tons of information, pictures and links.
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our Theme for the 2014 Rendezvous
Expanding Horizons Together
Challenger pilots range from grizzled captains with 30,000 hours logged in every type of aircraft imaginable to low time neophytes who have never flown anything but their own Challenger. Challenger owners whose kits are still in the assembly phase may never have piloted anything at all. Ages are from 18 to 80.
These people all have something in common - none were born with a pilot licence in their pocket. They all, every one of them, started expanding their horizons by taking that all important first flying lesson. From there they progressed to the unforgettable first solo, then to short cross-country hops, then to earning an entry level licence, ... each step expanding their horizons.
Regardless of the length and breadth of their logbooks when people start flying their Challengers they typically are expanding their horizons in some fashion. Operating off-airport is new to most, operating on-airport is new to some. Configuring with tundras, skis and floats expands horizons to new destinations with new surfaces. All have new nuances. Low and slow sightseeing is also new to most as is soaring in a powered aircraft. Ever lengthening cross-country flights very obviously expand horizons.
These expanding horizons have a common thread. In the same way that no one is born with a licence, no one with a licence got it knowing all about all of these facets of aviation. They learned it from someone somewhere.
There lies the uncommon character of the Challenger. The airplane comes complete with its own community, a network of ardent owners and service providers all across Canada and the United States. There is a synergy between the plane and the people. Challenger enthusiasts provide everything from instruction to mentoring, from advice to hands on help. No matter where owners are located, no matter how remote, they can access this network if not in person then via phone, text, email or internet.
In 2013 a dozen amphib Challengers launched on cross-country trips measured in thousands of kilometers, along less traveled paths, traversing virtually the entire breadth of Canada. None would have been prepared to do so without the existence of our community and some were grateful to avail themselves of the community's assistance en route.
At the Winter Rendezvous you will see the Challenger community in action and sense its aura. Witness the synergy between the plane and the people. Join us.
Together we can expand each other's horizons limited only by our imagination and desire. Spread your arms, hold your breath, and always trust your cape!
Several hundred people and a hundred or so skiplanes are expected!
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).
Come alone, bring a friend or arrive with your entire family, but
don’t miss this
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.
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous typically attracts several hundred people from across the length and breadth of Canada and the United States. In the middle of winter there have been nearly 100 skiplanes on the river outside the Chateau. This has become the premier aviation fly-in / drive-in of the winter!
Have a look through reports, pictures and videos from Rendezvous past!
2012: 22nd Annual = SNOW 'n FUN
2011: 21st Annual = WINTER FLYING - THEN & NOW
2010: 20th Annual = THE BIG TWO OH!
More From The Past
2009: Challenger beats Old Man Winter and Old Man Economy!
"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, 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.
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 pool,
There is a brand new spa, which is rated fabulous.
All that plus it's informal - jeans are acceptable throughout the hotel during the whole weekend.
There are no stuffed shirts here!
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 in the Chateau at Aux Chantignoles (fine French cuisine) or La Seigneurie (bistro fare) 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 will feature five Saturday daytime sessions. Refreshments will be served at 10:30 and again at 15:00 courtesy of National Ultralight. Registration, which is free, is in the main lobby and will be easy to find!
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire, owner of National Ultralight, the Canadian distributor for Challenger aircraft, will host a session titled "Planning for the Unplanned - Expecting the Unexpected".
Bryan will expound on two important safety related topics. He will review the satellite based technologies available for dealing with situations when you know where you are but nobody else does. These range from portable manually activated ELT units all the way to the latest web interfaced satellite tracking devices with two-way communications. Bryan will also examine strategies and tactics for dealing with unscheduled, undesired landings due to power loss or other issues. These topics are part and parcel of a "what if" approach to aviating which could be labeled "defensive flying".
At 14:00 there will be two concurrent sessions.
At 14:00 in the Quebec Room, John Baker and John Sutherland together with Ed and Betty de Nijs will recount their East to Eastebello flights from Ontario to Nova Scotia for the annual East Coast Challenger Rendezvous. For John and John the round trip from Toronto was 3,000 km while for Ed who started out near Windsor it was 3,500 km! Topics will include planning, execution, lessons learned, and, importantly, satisfactions earned.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, Daniel Sasseville from Aéro Propulsion Technologie 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.
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Mike and Tracy Hughes from Challenger West in the Edmonton area will give a slide presentation on their 4,500 km voyage to Illinois for the Challenger 30th Anniversary celebrations. Mike made the trip in his thousand pound 582 Challenger on amphibs while Tracy captained their fifty thousand pound Blue Bird Wanderlodge!
At 15:30 in the Ontario Room, Capt. Keith Hoey will detail the Search and Rescue (SAR) system structure and how it operates. He will explain how Challenger owners fit into the system and how they can help prevent requiring SAR services needlessly. Capt. Hoey has been involved in SAR for 25 years. He piloted Buffalo and Hercules aircraft on SAR squadrons and has an additional 10 years of coordinating searches at the Rescue Coordination Centre.
After the afternoon sessions there will be ample time before the banquet to head back down to the Challengers on the river 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 A-list, the conversation will be stimulating.
The evening's periprandial entertainment will commence as the diners feast with a slide show of the 2013 pilgrimage to Illinois for the Challenger 30th Anniversary celebration. Flocks of amphibious Challengers from Ontario (2,300 km) and Quebec (3,200 km) merged and flew concurrently with an amphib Challenger on a solo marathon flight from Alberta (4,500 km). Loads of pictures were taken including stunning air to air shots.
After the meal dignitaries in the audience will be introduced, Challenger news from 2013 will be recapped, and the slate of cross Canada events for 2014 will be announced. The intrepid flyers who flew in to the fly-in will be lauded. Awards will be presented for the Farthest Flown and Best Showplane. The recipients of the 2014 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award will be honoured.
Following the awards special guests Kathy Lubitz, President of the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), and Frank Hofmann, Eastern Vice-Chair of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), will share their insights on the latest trends in the world of ultralight flying and personal aviation.
The grand finale will be a video titled "The Search for the Baldwin Maneuver" by John Sutherland. You may recall that at Montebellos past John produced the upbeat Montebello Magic and Challenger Magic videos. This year's video is a collection of visual vignettes from last summer's 3,500 km East to Eastebello adventure shared by John with John Baker and Ed and Betty de Nijs.
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.
The 2013 Farthest Flown award was shared by John's Baker and Sutherland for their flight from Toronto. The Best Showplane award went to Mike Prescott from Ottawa for his 582 Challenger C-IMMP, affectionately called "Sea Imp".
Finally there 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 2013 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Bill Bryan of Markham, ON who for many years has given his full time and attention to our community. Bill acquired his Challenger via the Kit By Section Program between 2001 and 2004. He liked assembling and flying so much he sold his business to focus on Challenger activities. He became an instructor and opened a flying school. He assembled Challenger kits for other owners and became an authorized Challenger inspector. In his spare time he flies his own Challenger for pure pleasure!
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.
The 2013 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given on the 30th anniversary of the Challenger to the entire Challenger Team at Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corp. Quad City has produced not just the most popular ultralight in Canada but one of the most popular and long lasting in the world. The Challenger line of aircraft was launched in 1983 and has enjoyed continuous improvements ever since. To illustrate the staying power of the marque, Challengers swept all the Light Sport awards at Airventure Oshkosh in 2013! The award was accepted by general manager Karen Oltman on behalf of everyone at the factory in Illinois.
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, the granite shores of Lake Superior and the white sand beaches of Lake Huron. They have ventured east to Atlantic Canada and migrated south to the Gulf of Mexico!
At the banquet we will discuss plans for the 2014 voyage to be organized by Claude Roy. This will have the objective of attending the East Coast Challenger Rendezvous while enjoying the scenery of the entire Saint Lawrence River valley, from its headwaters at Lake Ontario to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
To visualize the route think in terms of going Kingston, Montreal, Quebec City, Charlevoix, ... to the Gulf then down through New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. Side trips to the Gaspe and/or PEI are possible depending on time and weather. The round trip distance will be around 3,000 to 3,500 km. August 16-30, 2014.
Participating pilots must have at the very minimum one full year of Challenger experience
plus one full season of flying on amphibious floats.
If you are interested in joining the flock for all or part of the itinerary
or if you would like to meet the group en route then get in touch with Claude Roy directly.
If you don’t 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!
To whet your appetite here are recaps of just a few past Challenger float tours...
The 15th annual adventure in 2013 was a pilgrimage to the Challenger 30th Anniversary celebration at Erie Airpark near Quad City's factory in Moline, Illinois. To visualize the location look west and a little south from Chicago 250-300 km to the Mississippi River. This pilgrimage entailed a round trip by a flock of amphib Challengers from Quebec (3,200 km) and Ontario (2,300 km) concurrent with a solo voyage by an amphib Challenger from Edmonton, Alberta (4,500 km). Slides will be shown at the 2014 banquet and an article with pictures will appear in an upcoming issue of COPA Flight.
The 2013 eastern flock closely tracked the 2008 edition when five Challengers on amphibious floats flew in formation up and over the Great Lakes then down the other side via Oshkosh to the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebration.
The 2008 adventure was featured in the January 2009 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 2012 float tour, named Deep South Adventure, was a 5500 km jaunt down the west side of the Appalachians and Alleghenies to the Gulf of Mexico then across Florida to the Atlantic then up the eastern seaboard. Whew!
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 St. Lawrence.
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 are coming by car (quel dommage!), Montebello is 80 km from Ottawa: cross to Gatineau and go east on 50 or 148. From Montreal it's 120 km: take the Trans Canada west to Hawkesbury, cross the bridge to Quebec and go west on 148. Alternatively from Montreal go north on 15 then west on 50. The Chateau is on the south side of 148, just west of Montebello village at 392 rue Notre Dame.
Make your room 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 Fairmont reservations at 1-800-441-1414 or call the chateau direct at 819-423-6341. All rooms have much character and either king or two double beds.
To get our special low group rate of $209 tell the operator you are with the Challenger Owners group. If all the rooms in our group's block are taken or if you call after the deadline then you can still reserve at the regular rate on a space available basis.
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.
Listed below are just a few of the local inns and B&B's:
819-423-0001 / 1-877-423-0001
For still more choices of habitat click here to have Google Maps do a Search.
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 27 January 2014 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 24 January 2014. This confirmation should be in the form of a personal cheque sent to Claude at your earliest convenience and dated 24 January 2014 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.
The main switchboard number at the Chateau Montebello is 819-423-6341.
To learn and see more order our comprehensive information package and video!