National Ultralight Inc.
How about this: past Challenger events at this cabin,
actually a log castle,
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
invites Challenger owners and fans as well as all aviation enthusiasts
to congregate at Chateau Montebello
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous long ago evolved from a one day fly-in
Outside the Chateau skiplanes cavort in the air and on the frozen river.
The chateau fills up quickly - reserve your room now to avoid disappointment!
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our Theme for the 2016 Rendezvous
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
For more than a quarter century, sunshine or snowstorm, Challenger owners and fans have flocked together in winter wonderlands. The original venue in 1991 was a small cabin in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. This barely accommodated a handful of planes and a couple handfuls of people.
By 1995 the Challenger Winter Rendezvous as it became known was being held at the elegant Chateau Vaudreuil just west of Montreal. There it set a world record for winter fly-ins with no less than 33 skiplanes in attendance!
Starting in 1996 the gatherings alternated between Chateau Montebello, the world's largest log cabin, in even years and Chateau Vaudreuil in odd years. Montebello proved to be the group's favourite so it has hosted the event since 2002. Originally built as a private retreat for the privileged few, then for many years a jewel in CP Hotels crown, now it is Fairmont Le Château Montebello!
The advantages of Chateau Montebello range from sheltered overnight tiedowns for the planes to five star treatment for the people. All this plus a relaxed, informal ambiance! Our current world record stands just shy of 100 skiplanes and around 300 people, with 193 seated at the banquet!
Challenger owners, wannabes and fans flock from near and far, by plane and by car, from across Canada and the United States and as far away as Sri Lanka. Challenger pilots range from those with tens of thousands of hours in everything imaginable to those still in the hopefullly someday soon stage.
This diversity is part of the appeal of the Challenger community – the common thread tying all these people together is their shared passion. The experienced members are generous with their wisdom and mentor the fledglings. Together they enjoy the versatility of this amazing aircraft, free from burdensome red tape and stifling air traffic control.
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous brings together people and planes for a fun and informative weekend of seminars, feasts and camaraderie. Everyone is welcome - Challenger owners, Challenger wannabes, all aviation enthusiasts.
A hundred or so skiplanes and some three hundred people 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 will 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, 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 a few reports, pictures and videos from Rendezvous past!
2014: 24th Annual = EXPANDING HORIZONS
2013: 23rd Annual = 30 YEARS OF CHALLENGERS
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 six Saturday daytime sessions.
At 09:30 in the Quebec Room, Claude Béland, Instructor at the Rockcliffe Flying Club in Ottawa, will give a briefing on VFR navigation and on the efficient use of VNC and VTA charts. Many pilots have become reliant on GPS devices however it is essential to maintain proficiency with charts as backup.
At 10:30 coffee and tea will be served outside the Quebec and Ontario rooms.
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire, owner of National Ultralight, will review the recently announced new Challenger Light Sport 'E' Series. Bryan will delve into the details of the EL-65 and ES-65 models and their position between the original Challenger II aircraft and the top of the line Challenger Light Sport 'X' Series XL-65 and XS-65. He will also explain the recent switch in pricing to Canadian Dollars from US Dollars and how it stabilizes the exchange rate at 2014 levels prior to the drop in oil prices.
After lunch, from 14:00 to 16:30, there will be four sessions in two tracks.
At 15:00 coffee and tea will be served outside the Quebec and Ontario rooms.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, Claude Roy from Ottawa will give a presentation about flying competency and flight safety aboard ultralights. Flying ultralights since 1984 and teaching ultralight flying since 1985, Claude has over 5,000 flying hours in ultralights and has traveled tens of thousands of miles! For twenty years he has organized and led the annual Challenger Float Tour in its travels around Canada and the United States. In the spirit of the Challenger community Claude is always happy to share his wisdom.
At 15:30 in the Ontario Room, Kshemendra Weeratunga on his second visit to Montebello will wow the audience with his experiences flying XL-65's in exotic Sri Lanka. Kshemendra is Senior Captain and Flight Instructor on Airbus aircraft for SriLankan Airlines. He and his friend, fellow SriLankan Airlines Captain Kapila Gunaratne, each own amphibious Challenger Light Sport XL-65's which they operate at their home base in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The presentation will give Canadian plots pause as they realize the difficulties that Kshemendra and Kapila faced and still face operating in a highly regulated, militarized environment. How lucky we are to enjoy the freedom of flight in Canada and the United States!
From 14:00 to 15:00 and 15:30 to 16:30 in the Quebec Room, there will be two sessions by four owners about their experiences assembling and flying Challenger Light Sport XL-65's. For three of the owners this was their first aircraft assembly while one had built an all metal plane in the past. All four are private pilot licence holders with their previous experiences entirely in general aviation aircraft. The four will share their triumphs and their challenges plus offer tips and techniques on everything from organizing the workshop to managing time to fabricing the airframe to learning to fly their Challengers.
In the 14:00 session the presenters will be Phil Cohen of Montreal and Steve Bell of Barrie, ON. They both received their XL-65 kits in 2014 and in about nine months had completed the assembly. Phil had been renting Cessnas but as he had not flown in many years his licence needed revalidating. Steve maintained currency renting Cessnas throughout the assembly but is now flying only his Challenger. As of this date both have logged over 25 hours in their XL-65's.
In the 15:30 session the presenters will be Andrew Forber and Tom McClatchie, both from Toronto. Andrew purchased a used Challenger a dozen years ago then sold it for the siren song of a four seat Grumman Cheetah. He then realized that fast planes only justify their high upkeep costs when you are rushing to a destination, which is not often and not much fun. Tom owned a Cherokee Archer which he found expensive and boring, a bad combination. He had built an all metal airplane before which convinced him not to attempt one ever again! Andrew and Tom are taking an unhurried approach to their XL-65's and incorporating personalizations which attendees will find interesting.
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. You may wear jeans or, if you wish, an informal tuxedo. The meal will be superb, the company will be A-list, the conversation will be stimulating.
As the diners feast the evening's periprandial entertainment will play on the big screen. Each year the Challenger Winter Rendezvous is attended by such highly talented aviation photographers as Jean-Pierre Bonin, Pierre Langlois, Daniel Villeneuve, Benoit Foisy, Bill Fawcett, Olivier Lacombe and Christine Fullgraf. Samples of their work and images submitted by attendees will be shown in a continuously running slideshow.
After the meal dignitaries in the audience will be introduced, the latest Challenger news will be recapped, and the slate of cross Canada events for the coming year 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 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award will be honoured.
To finish the evening there will be a no doubt lively presentation by John Baker, Ed & Betty de Nijs, Claude Roy and Patrick Vinet. The adventurers will recount with pictures and anecdotes their 4,000 mile / 6,400 km trip in the summer of 2015 from Montreal / Ottawa / Toronto to Edmonton to attend the Western Challenger Rendezvous. This segment of the banquet is always fun!
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.
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 2015 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to John Baker and John Sutherland. These two amigos base their Challengers in adjacent hangars near Toronto. They have completed the Ontario Airports Challenge which requires flying to a vast number of airports. They have flown to Montebello on skis where they were tied for the Farthest Flown Award. Their longest trip to date was to Nova Scotia on amphibs to attend the East Coast Challenger Rendezvous. To further demonstrate their passion John Sutherland created several videos featured in the Challenger Cinema and John Baker opened a full service Rotax business.
The Dave Allan Memorial Award was founded in 2007 to be given each year to a person who has made a substantial contribution to inspire or empower the Challenger community. 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 always welcomed visitors to his workshop.
The 2015 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given to Frank Hofmann. Frank has been a fixture in the Challenger Community since 1984 when he started giving ground school courses for the Ultralight Pilot Permit and the Ultralight Instructor Rating. Teaching - sharing knowledge with others - is in Frank's DNA. His full time job was Chair of the Aircraft Maintenance Department at a Montreal college. In his "spare" time Frank built a Midget Mustang II and served for many years as a director of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Organization. He has also served as IAOPA observer to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Frank had attended all 24 Challenger Winter Rendezvous events prior to 2015!
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!
2015 was the 17th Annual Challenger Float Tour and it headed westward! The goal was to attend the 9th Annual Western Challenger Rendezvous being held July 10 through 12 at the Wetaskiwin Airport near Edmonton.
This was a 4,000 mile round trip (6,400 km!) so three weeks were allocated to allow plenty of time for sightseeing en route. Four amphibious Challengers made the trip and arrived in Edmonton on schedule. Four Challengers times 4,000 miles each is 16,000 miles by ultralight. Over the 16,000 miles the only mechanical issues encountered were a flat tire and a starter problem! An account and pictures are in the December issue of COPA Flight. Join us at the Saturday night banquet for a slide show and vignettes from the voyageurs.
2016 will be the 18th consecutive Annual Challenger Float Tour and it will head north! The adventure will depart from the Montreal area and go north to places like Mont-Laurier, Ste-Anne du Lac, Val d'Or, Amos and La Sarre. At some point it will cross to the Ontario side and go south along the border to places like Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kirkland Lake, Earlton, Temagami, North Bay, etc. This round trip will stretch about 2,000 kilometres. Departure will be on Saturday 6 August 2016. Two weeks have been allocated for a leisurely trip!
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 big trips 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 a few past Challenger float tours...
The 15th annual adventure in 2013 was a pilgrimage to the Challenger's 30th Anniversary celebration at Erie Airpark near the Quad City factory in Moline, Illinois. To visualize the location look west and a little south from Chicago 250 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) plus a solo voyage by an amphib Challenger from Edmonton, Alberta (4,500 km).
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 view 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.
Winter weather as well as snow and ice conditions can vary widely and change rapidly. Pilots coming from afar should have a minimum of one full year of Challenger experience plus one full season of ski flying.
Those fortunate enough to be owners coming by Challenger will find the flight
easy and beautiful. As the GPS flies, the Chateau Montebello is at N45 39 / W74 57.
This is just west of the village of Montebello, Quebec, on the north shore
of the Ottawa River, an endless runway for Challengers on skis.
Monitor radio frequencies 122.75 en route and
If you are coming by airline fly to Ottawa, ON (YOW) or Montreal, QC (YUL).
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, 392 rue Notre Dame, Montebello, Quebec
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 the 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 many have two double beds.
To get our special low group rate 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 best available rate assuming there is space.
Ours is a VERY popular event so the Chateau gets fully booked VERY quickly. If you call and that is the case then there are a number of quite charming and economical 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 the alternates 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!
And now for banquet details...
At the Saturday evening banquet a sumptuous hot and cold buffet will be served and bar facilities will be available. The price is $60.00 per adult and $30.00 per child (under 12), including tax and tip. Reservations are required!
If you do not have a confirmed seat then you can still come on a standby basis. 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!