|Fourteen Challengers and a smattering of
automobiles transported at least twenty-nine Challenger Owners Association
members and companions to the COA fly-in at Haliburton's Stanhope airport
on August 10 and 11.
Attendance exceeded expectations as the Challengers were joined by a number of other ultralights and homebuilts plus a constant stream of Cessnas and Pipers visiting to view the assemblage. Hannu Halminen even brought out his award-winning Harvard Mark IV. As well, Haliburton area residents and cottagers turned out in force to see the airplanes and chat with the aviators.
The weather could not have been better. Crystal clear air, blue sky, light winds and moderate temperatures replaced the previous week's hot hazy misery and Friday's howling gales. The Haliburton Highlands are wonderfully picturesque, with rolling green hills speckled with blue lakes rimmed with sandy beaches. There is a distinctly "not over-developed" air to the region. Stanhope Airport itself is nestled between two lakes and is quite spacious and meticulously maintained. It's a perfect site for a fly-in.
Demonstrating their long legs, Challengers came from far away lands. Ray McBain from Quebec City joined up enroute with three Challengers based near Montreal. Jean-Marc Côté, Maurice Patton, Maurice Vinet and Ray had a highly enjoyable journey in their amphibs, meandering from sight to sight and landing at beaches and marinas to refuel. Their beautiful machines attracted so much attention enroute that it proved impossible to hurry. To cap off their trip they landed at Stanhope in a most impressive flight of four, to the great delight of onlookers.
The award for "Greatest Distance Flown" was won by McBain whose Challenger II "El Tortugas" (The Tortoise) cruises at 70 or so on Puddlejumper amphibs. That's breathtakingly fast for an ultralight but not enough to threaten the Concorde on the flagship British Airways routes. Ray stated, somewhat defensively, that with a fuel consumption of less than 4 US gallons per hour, El Tortugas could fly 547,330 miles on the fuel it takes Concorde to go from New York to Paris. Better bring a sandwich Ray!
Youngest attendee was Nathan Quickmire, age 10, who flew in with his father Bryan in C-FXSL, another Challenger II on amphibious floats. XSL looked like a classic bush plane as it arrived with its crew of two plus tent, sleeping bags, mattresses and, of course, formal dinner attire. Father and son camped under the wing, enjoyed the Saturday night bonfire, went swimming and canoeing on Sunday, and had a fantastic time socializing with the other attendees.
Nate got the award for "Most Hours Spent Sitting In A Car To Get To The Airplane To Fly To Haliburton". The Quickmire family was in the process of moving back to Canada so Nate had to sit through twenty-one hours of driving from Boston to the hangar near Toronto, and then back to Boston. After the move, Nate and his 8-year old brother Greg, also an experienced Challenger crew member, will live only six minutes from the hangar, and be grateful for it.
While some attendees spent Saturday night in tents and others stayed at Maple Sands Resort, the award for "Most Questionable Way To Spend A Night" was shared by Marc Lefebvre and a gentleman known only as Brian.
Marc flew his Challenger in from Sudbury on Saturday, fully intending to go home that evening. The company proved too enjoyable so he stayed for dinner and then laid the seat cushions from his Challenger on the ground as a mattress. Marc's only covering was a foil survival blanket which he says he'd just as soon not have to rely on in winter!
Brian actually slept IN his single seat open cockpit Teeny Two! Shunning the more conventional tent-under-wing approach, Brian removed his seat back and wiggled his feet into the fuselage and up into the tail cone, leaving his head nicely cushioned on the seat. There was speculation that in the morning he would have to be extracted with forceps!
The award for "Most Talked About Takeoff" went to the fab four from Quebec plus the Quickmires who together did a five ship takeoff on Sunday. All five Challengers were on amphibious Puddlejumper floats and had tremendous presence as they queued up to take the active. It looked just like Pearson at rush hour!
Dennis Lafleur, representing the Stanhope Airport committee which handled the local arrangements, was ecstatic about the turnout. The Challenger Owners Association would like to thank the committee as well as Maple Sands Resort and Hart Lodge, all of which spared no effort to make the fly-in highly enjoyable. The hospitality was incredible!
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