January 26-28, 2018
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.
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our Theme for the 2018 Rendezvous Celebrates
35 YEARS OF CHALLENGERS
The first Challenger, a single seater, flew in 1983. The first two-seater in 1984.
Instead of resembling hang gliders with lawn chairs and chain saw motors, Challengers look and fly like real airplanes. Today, some 4,000 airplanes and several hundred design changes later, the Challenger line of aircraft is dramatically more capable and still maintains its position in front of the pack.
From an open cockpit plane, meant for sunny summer days, with tiny tires on plastic rims with no brakes, meant for smooth grass strips, the Challenger has evolved to become uniquely versatile. Today owners can easily switch between wheels, tundra wheels, skis, wheel/skis, floats, amphibious floats...
Today's models all have heated cabins and engines needing no preheating. This all comes together to make the Challenger a true four season aircraft.
Cruise speeds have nearly doubled and owners can fly in real world winds and weather. Challengers can fly multi-thousand mile cross-country flights and yet they still offer the simple pleasures of local low and slow sightseeing hops.
2018 will be the 28th consecutive annual Challenger Winter Rendezvous!
For more than a quarter century, sunshine or snowstorm, Challenger owners and fans have flocked together in winter wonderlands.
Attendees have ranged from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland - from every province in between and every territory above - NU, NT, YT. They have come from the four corners of the USA and from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
The not so secret ingredient which makes the Challenger Winter Rendezvous so special and a must attend event is known as Montebello Magic!
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 of handfuls of people. In 1995 the Challenger Winter Rendezvous as it became known was held at the elegant Chateau Vaudreuil just west of Montreal. There it set a (then) world record for winter fly-ins with at least 33 skiplanes!
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 Ch‚teau 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 Ė 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 all 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 and wannabes plus 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
donít 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, the world's leading distributor of Challenger aircraft.
"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 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 a hundred 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: EXPANDING HORIZONS
2013 = 23rd: 30 YEARS OF CHALLENGERS
2012 = 22nd: SNOW 'n FUN
2011 = 21st: WINTER FLYING - THEN & NOW
2010 = 20th: THE BIG TWO OH!
More From The Past
2009: Challenger beats Old Man Winter and Old Man Economy!
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 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 four Saturday afternoon sessions.
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, distributor for Challenger aircraft, will present "35 Years of Challengers". Learn how the Challenger came into being way back in 1983, how it has evolved, and how it has reigned as Canada's most popular ultralight.
UPDATE: This session has been rescheduled to 15:30 in the Quebec room!
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 safety-oriented presentation with the title "Use your mental Radar". Claude has been an ultralight flyer since 1984 and a flight instructor since 1985. He has 5,900 flying hours in ultralights, including over 5,100 hours in Challengers! Claude is always happy to share his experiences with the Challenger community.
At 14:00 in the Quebec Room, John Baker of www.RotacRepair.ca) in Whitby, Ontario, will give a technical talk focusing on the ROTAX 582 two-stroke engine. The 582 has been the engine of choice for new Challengers since 2005. Over the last dozen years it has proven its performance, reliability and fuel economy in operations twelve months a year across Canada.
After the afternoon refreshments, at 15:30 in the Ontario Room, Barry Flood, a Challenger owner from Ottawa, Ontario, will give a presentation titled "My First Years of Flying". Barry started flying in his Challenger in 2015 and has logged over 200 hours since. He will entertain the audience with video and pictures of planes, people and places from his summer and winter adventures.
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire will give a brief history of the Challenger line of aircraft then segue to "35 Years of Challenger Panels". He will use pictures from his extensive collection to trace the evolution of Challenger panels from simple to sophisticated, from steam gauges to slick glass displays. Bryan will discuss matching panels to missions as well as handling inadvertent encounters with instrument meteorological conditions.
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, Bill Fawcett, Pierre Langlois, Daniel Villeneuve, Benoit Foisy, 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. Bernard Gervais, President of COPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, will speak about their formalized new role in planning and organizing future Winter Rendezvous events.
The intrepid flyers who flew in to the fly-in will be lauded. Awards will be presented for Farthest Flown and Best Showplane. Recipients of the Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award will be honoured.
To top off the evening Kevin Brown, Claude Roy and Patrick Vinet will present "Return to the Deep South", the 2017 reprise of their 2012 journey to visit Challenger buddies in Alabama. Five years ago they flew south via the inland route west of the Appalachians then hopped eastward over Florida to fly back up via the Eastern Seaboard. At the banquet the adventurers will use pictures, videos and anecdotes to take you along on their epic 2017 Challenger journey from Southern Ontario to Alabama and New Orleans. Join them for their account of more than 5,000 kms and 20 days of magical memories.
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 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.
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 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, west to the Rocky Mountains, and south to the Gulf of Mexico!
2018 will be the 20th consecutive Annual Challenger Float Tour! The goal is the Challenger 35th Anniversary celebrations in Illinois the weekend of September 14-16, 2018. Departure from the Ottawa area will be on Saturday 8 September 2018 for a two week, 2,000 mile jaunt to the US Midwest.
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 donít 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 two past Challenger anniversaries...
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.
One of the longer out and return trips, 2015 was the 17th Annual Challenger Float Tour and it headed westward! The goal was to attend the 9th Annual Western Challenger Rendezvous 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 one flat tire and a starter problem!
And a defining moment for cross border operations, 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!
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 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. Secure tiedowns will be located in the protected harbour in front of the Chateau. Auto gas will be available.
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, 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 40% off group rate of $225
tell the operator you are with the Challenger group.
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 - in no particular order:
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 - contact Claude Roy to reserve your places!
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). Prices even include tax and tip!
The Chateau needs to know by Monday 22 January 2018 how many people they will be accommodating at the banquet. Accordingly Claude needs a firm commitment of your presence by Friday 19 January 2018. This should be in the form of a personal cheque sent to Claude and dated 19 January 2018 at the latest. The 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 in case someone with tickets is noshow. (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 after the meal 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!