An incredible but true story of an unplanned flight by a British engineer.
In 1941, a Boeing 314 Clipper made a very long journey home. After Pearl Harbor, the crew of Pan Am flight 18602 was forced to do the impossible.
Learn more about this incredible trip here.
This afternoon Steve Stewart added a new plaque to the Canada’s National Airshow Cairn outside the airport terminal.
You can read the text in the attached pictures.
Originally we wanted this as another brass plaque, but the estimate was over $500. So what we have is plastic, and I think it looks pretty good, and visually it is a fair match for the original rectangular brass plaque. It is attached using construction adhesive and steel pins. Perhaps the colours will fade long before 2070, but if they do, it can be replaced.
By Steve Stewart
By the end of 2008 the engines in HXT and IUK were both approaching TBO. In 2009 all three aircraft were fitted with 406 MHz ELTs, and all three experienced radio problems at various times. There was a proposal to replace the carburetor in IUK in order to address the continuing problem with running very rich unless the mixture control was pulled back excessively. However, that idea was put on hold pending the approaching need for the engine overhaul. By November 2009 we had $44k in the engine fund. At the October AGM it was announced that our total hours for the previous 12 months on all three aircraft were only 344.9, which was the lowest hours since we first owned all three in 1989. HXT had corrosion issues, IUK needed new paint, an interior refurb, an IFR upgrade and radios. The time was right to consider how many aircraft the club should operate going into the future, and exactly what they should be. We needed a strategic plan for aircraft.
Brief consideration was given to the idea of un-insuring an aircraft during the winter to save expense. But instead, we lowered the hourly rates to just $100, specifically to encourage members to fly despite the inconvenience caused by airspace changes and restrictions during the 2010 winter Olympics. The low rate continued to the end of March 2010, and it had the desired effect. The reduced rental rate would be repeated the next year – even without the Olympics.
A Future Aircraft Committee was formed under the able chairmanship of Jimmy Spentzas, and it met for the first time in May of 2010. It worked through the rest of 2010 and 2011, and set about its task in a very well-organized manner. Any member was welcome to contribute their opinion, and to suggest what type of aircraft they would like to see in the club. Everything was discussed objectively at the committee, and options were shortlisted with all their pros and cons. The options were put to members, who voted to indicate their preferences. The Board made decisions based on those preferences. It was a very inclusive process.
In the meantime, the aircraft continued to fly, and there were not many big maintenance issues. HXT suffered wingtip damage on a trip to Revelstoke, and IUK’s propellor was scratched in Whitehorse. HXT and IUK both had problems fouling plugs, and there was continued discussion about proper leaning procedures. There were 30 hours flown in March 2010, and 100 hours in July (when ZHQ and IUK both went to the Yukon). The total annual hours announced at the 2010 AGM was 415.5. By May of 2011 HXT was within 80 hours of TBO and IUK within 90 hours.
The work of the Future Aircraft Committee came to fruition as a series of decisions. First was the decision to continue to operate three aircraft. This was an act of faith in response to the increased hours flown in 2010, and to the steady growth in the number of members who wished to fly. Then there were the decisions about what types of aircraft the three should be. The first decision was easy, and was to keep ZHQ. It was operating well, had a low-time engine and no serious maintenance issues. It also had the STC covering its 180HP engine and long-range tanks, which gave it a useful load of 1080 pounds. A number of types were considered for aircraft number two. They included another 172, a Piper Archer, a Cirrus, a Maule and a Socata. In the meantime, pending the upcoming decisions, in January 2012 the maintenance on HXT and IUK was cut back to only scheduled maintenance, and any work required to maintain airworthiness.
In the end, a Piper Archer was selected as our number two aircraft. Stephen Head was now aircraft maintenance director, and he took on the task of reviewing the options of refurbishing IUK or of replacing it with an already refurbished airplane. The recommendation was to refurbish IUK, and a total estimated cost of $81k was approved by the board in February 2012. This would cover the engine, a new carburetor, repainting, a new interior and instrumentation upgrades.
The Future Aircraft Committee was now ready to present the options for the number three aircraft. Everyone had agreed that it should be ‘an interesting two-seater’, and the options were a Diamond DA 20, a Pipistrel Virus, and an Aerotrek A240. Gerry Crapo suggested that we also include the option of keeping HXT, and in April, keeping HXT is exactly what the members chose.
The work on IUK started in March 2012, under the direction of Stephen Head, and managed by Maxcraft. In recognition that IUK was our primary aircraft for IFR flight, the budget was expanded in order to provide a Garmin GTN750, integrated radios, and a new panel layout. At the June GM, Bob Fatkin introduced everyone to the GTN750, what it can do, and how to use it. A ‘welcome back’ barbeque was held in July, with IUK parked behind the clubhouse as guest of honour. It looked amazing. Over the next few months, members got used to flying IUK again, while the paint cured and various things continued to need adjustments. We also learned the bad news that the empty airplane had got 50 pounds heavier.
While IUK was undergoing its transformation, Stephen Head and his team were already studying what work would be required on HXT. One question was whether to upgrade the engine to 180HP. This would mean that the usable load might be increased to match that of ZHQ. It already had long-range tanks. For this upgrade, corrosion repairs, new radios etc., and various other things, and considering our experience of the IUK project, the necessary budget was estimated at up to $115k. First, the aircraft funds needed to be replenished, and that would take time.
In September 2012, metal was found in the oil from ZHQ. Repair was estimated at a minimum of $8k and this was an engine that had been overhauled three times already – quite recently. By this time, we had a total of $90k in the bank. The decision was made put the HXT project on hold, and to get a factory-rebuilt engine for ZHQ. The job was done without delay, and it cost $32,145. HXT’s engine continued ‘on condition’, and the results of a corrosion inspection started to cause concern.
In calendar year 2012, the three aircraft had flown a total of 505.9 hours, despite IUK being unavailable for most of that time.
During this period there was a possibility that the club might also acquire ownership of, or access to an aerobatic airplane. Don Richardson gave a presentation on aerobatics at the April 2009 GM. In July 2009, Peter and Brandon Dryer presented on competition aerobatics, and another presentation was given by Peter Hertzig in April 2010. In July 2010 the Aerobatic Club of BC was invited to one of our TGIF events, and they brought with them an Extra 300, in which Peter Dreyer flew a short routine to round off the evening. There was a suggestion that the two clubs might merge, thus giving AFC members access to aerobatic possibilities, while Aerobatic Club members would gain access to the AFC aircraft. Joint discussions happened, but in May of 2011 the Aerobatic Club decided that they did not want to go ahead with the merger. Even so, Peter Dryer bought a Citabria himself, and offered to lease to the AFC, as well as making it available to members of the Aerobatic Club. But, in the end, this did not happen.
Since the Airport’s aggressive take-over of the Club’s buildings in June 2007, the operation of the hangars had changed completely. The club now rented the hangar building footprint from the airport and all the occupants were subtenants of the club. The hangar building and the clubhouse were both subject to 90-day cancellation clauses, and continued pressure from the airport reminded us of the need to look for alternative accommodations. In early 2009 the Bell Canada bond was sold, and that enabled the club to pay off all of the former hangar investors. The hangar building was now a source of steady income.
We formed a Buildings Committee and looked at the feasibility of a development at the north end of runway 01/19, which was the only area offered. New buildings would be prohibitively expensive, and it was impractical to move the existing buildings. In 2009 we did secure a two-year rental agreement, and the pressure to relocate was easing. The context was a rethink of the airport’s overall plan. They were considering spending around $30 million on an expansion of the apron, new taxiways, and an extension of runway 01/19. In the meantime, the taxiways in the GA compound were starting to break up, and ‘our’ hangar had a leaking roof. The clubhouse roof also needed repair, again. But Harry Froese, who still operates three hangar buildings in the compound, had secured a ruling on appropriate rental rates, which had a great spin-off benefit for the club of reducing our rent by $2,500. In July 2010 Chris Conrad identified an anomaly in our property tax billing whereby we were paying for water and sewage services at the hangar building which did not have those services. His efforts resulted in a three year refund for the overbilling. The rental agreement renewal now had a 180-day termination clause instead of 90 days, and we continued to look at what the clubhouse options were if that clause were activated. Gerry Visser offered the land behind Godspeed aviation for a double-wide building. Another possibility would have been to meet at the Air Cadets building.
By October 2010 the airport’s previous master plan was no more. They were now developing a 10-year capital developments plan. Steve Stewart and Tom Grozier met with airport management in October to discuss the future of the ex-Friesen hangars (the XF buildings). These two hangars had been built in about 1980, and when the airport took over buildings in 2007, their long-time owner, Jake Friesen, did not agree to rent them back. This left the airport with the task of dealing with every occupant individually as individual tenants. In early 2011 the airport asked the club to take over the buildings. At the time, the Abbotsford Fire Department had inspected them and were insisting on a whole list of upgrades, which the airport did not want to undertake. If we did not take them on, their alternative plan involved a bulldozer, and this would have left over 40 tenants without hangars. The fire department’s main demand was to remove all the ad hoc internal walls and associated paraphernalia that had been developed over the years, and to add fire exits at the ends of the buildings. They refused to consider the main sliding doors as being exits in the context of a fire. A meeting was held at the clubhouse, with the airport, the fire department and most of the tenants to consider options. One idea was to add man-doors into the sliding doors. Eventually, some time later, they agreed that the sliding doors could simply be left partially open whenever people were in the hangar, and they agreed to let the existing internal walls and partitions stay, so long as no new ones were erected. The club agreed to take on the buildings from January 1st 2012, and the airport agreed to do some necessary repairs and upgrades before then. In 2012 the airport authority did a lot of crack sealing in the taxiways, installed additional drains, replaced the vehicle gate with an electrically operated gate, replaced the north fence, and added gravel parking groundside along the whole length of the north fence. The fence was also moved a few feet away from the buildings for added security, and our 40-foot-wide Wings and Wheels gate was installed.
So, from January 2012 the club was renting three hangar buildings (including the XF buildings) with over 60 subtenants. The additional income from the XF buildings was expected to more than double the club’s hangar revenue. The XF building rents were kept the same as the airport had charged in 2011, and the AFC hangar rents continued unchanged from the levels that had been fixed in 2008. Club members received a discount of $300 annually, and this now applied to the XF building subtenants. A number of subtenants applied to join the club.
Under the expert guidance of Keith Sim, the clubhouse roof had been replaced in 2011, despite the uncertainty as to its future. A new furnace was installed, and insulation added above the meeting room. Keith also bought a whole new set of plastic folding tables from Costco to replace the old, heavy and splintered wooden tables, which were then sold off to all comers. In July the building was used a set in a Hallmark Christmas film, ‘Trading Christmas’, starring Gabrielle Miller of ‘Corner Gas’ fame. Our clubhouse played the part of a Washington bus station. Later in 2011, the old fireplace was replaced with the efficient unit which is still there now. We had acquired a new pool table in 2009; in 2011 we got a large TV and high speed internet; and in 2012 Tom Grozier donated the piano.
By this time, the airport was indicating that the existing arrangements might continue for up to five years, which was a huge improvement from the 90-day termination clause they had imposed in 2007.
In 2012 the airport asked us to take on all the tie down spaces in the compound. At the time there were a total of 24, comprising 14 on grass plus the 10 to the west of the AFC hangar building. We had given up these 10 in 2007 because their rental would cost more than any potential income. The same logic still applied, and we did not take on the tie downs. We also refused the offer of the airshow’s ‘Hangar 13’ washrooms, which were located groundside of the north fence, and only used during the airshow. They were not an attractive prospect. Instead, a portable unit was placed just inside the vehicle gate.
By 2009, the Club’s response to the Airport’s take-over of the buildings had already transformed the hangar operation into a major contributor to the club’s finances. When the XF buildings were added to the operation in 2012, the net revenue flow into the club from the hangars more than doubled, and the hangars became, by far, the biggest revenue source for the club. This is what paid for refurbishing IUK and replacing ZHQ’s engine. And it set the club up for its future aircraft strategy. The revenues from membership dues and the airshow campground continued at their established levels. The aircraft continued to be a significant cost item – even without considering the capital expenditures on IUK and ZHQ. The clubhouse continued as the biggest single focus of regular expense. By the end of this period, the club had emerged from the turmoil of potential insolvency and felt some relief from the immediate threat of being turned out of our buildings. The finances were well organized and relatively stable. In 2009, the financial year end was changed to July 31st, so that completed statements could be prepared well before the AGM in October.
The club had not been involved with Young Eagles’ flights for some years, and they had actually ceased in Canada. But in 2009 the club decided to start up our own program of flights for kids. The plan was linked to the centenary of flight in Canada. To celebrate 100 years since that first flight, we would aim to give 100 kids their first flights. Our program was called ‘100 First Flights for Kids’, and plans were put in place for June, with all arrangements managed by Mark Thibault and Ron Becker. Partway through the process, COPA announced their own equivalent program, called ‘COPA for kids’. We talked to COPA about a joint event, but they insisted that only COPA members would be eligible to be involved, which would shut out any AFC members who were not COPA members. Even so, we explored all the possibilities for a joint event. There were suggestions that all AFC members ‘should’ be members of COPA. And there were generous offers to pay the COPA dues for any AFC members that needed help that way. A motion was created and it went to a dedicated EGM in May. That meeting decided that the AFC would not force its members to join COPA in order to be eligible to participate in the AFC kids’ flights. The event went ahead without COPA involvement, and was a huge success. The on-line registration had to be shut down well before the event, and there were well over 100 registrations. In the end, because of no-shows, we flew 106 kids. Everyone was presented with their own certificate of achievement, signed by their pilot. The pilots had all contributed their time and the aircraft costs. Many other volunteers helped with administration, registration, ground school, food, and marshalling. Every kid was photographed by photographer extraordinaire, Jimmy Wong. The Air Cadets ushered kids safely across the tarmac to their waiting planes, and back after their flights. Involvement with the kids’ flights has helped maintain our relationship with the Air Cadets. Since 2009 we have also provided an annual award for one cadet, to be presented at their annual parade in May.
Newsletter, Socials, Safety, Meetings
In October 2008 Ken Buchholz had agreed to take over the job of Newsletter Editor from Peter Graystone. One of his expectations was that I would write a regular President’s Column for every edition. I did this for the entire time I was President, and in general I tried to give the column some substance. My efforts were only one contribution to the Newsletter, and Ken did a great job soliciting other contributions.
Rick Duerksen started to write a regular ‘BS Guy’ column, where BS stood for Bar and Socials. Rick was very active at developing the TGIF from quite small beginnings into what it became. And there were never ending reasons to hold BBQs or other special events, such as to welcome back IUK; or to welcome the arrival of Keith and Susan Wood each year; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012; the annual Airshow Volunteer party; a YXX tenant BBQ in June 2010; a welcome back from Whitehorse BBQ in July 2010; and many more. The 2012 Airshow Volunteer BBQ was memorable for its extreme weather – a sudden and very heavy storm burst that moved in from the south faster than I could taxi in ZHQ. Fortunately, I was on the ground, having decided to refuel before the next volunteer flight. Marty Lehner was in the air and managed to land in time. Bob Fatkin diverted to Boundary Bay. All these events, and many more, were well reported in the Newsletter.
Another regular contributor was Bob Fatkin, writing on safety topics. Bob was also giving regular, short presentations on aircraft safety at every GM, and he created the currency quiz each year, as well as starting joint study sessions at the clubhouse on Saturday mornings for members to work through the quiz in a supportive, learning environment. Ken edited the newsletter until January 2012, and every issue was good. Then Dirk Sieber took over, and continued the same way.
In 2009 the General Meeting presenters included Glen Friesen from the TSB talking about the PA-34 crash in Richmond; new member Ed Boon on flying in his native New Zealand; and Washington resident Joe Moser on his experiences flying in WW2. In 2010, Adrian Renkers presented on the Reno Air Races; and Eric Scott told us about flying for Conair. 2011 included a number of updates on the airport developments and new procedures; a slide show by Randy Kelley about the Royal International Air Tattoo; and Greg Hattan on the Mission Aviation Fellowship. In 2012, we had a presentation on the TV program Arctic Air; and Kevin Robarts told us all about his operational experiences in Kandahar.
Of course, the biggest landmark event in this period was the club’s 50th anniversary celebration. The club had actually been created in November 1961, but we celebrated the anniversary in September 2011, and the weather was splendid. The whole event was masterminded by Randy Kelley, who had worked on arrangements for months, with the help of a capable team of other members. Great efforts were made to contact former members and invite them to attend. All the usual politicians and VIPs were there, and of course there were speeches – one of them unplanned and unrequested. MLA Mike DeJong had arranged for a Royal Proclamation, declaring September 24th 2011 as ‘Abbotsford Flying Club Day’ in the Province of British Columbia. There was food, drink, and cake. 175 people signed the attendance book, and there were many more who didn’t. Overall, it was a very successful day.
The club did some great flyouts and motorcycle rides. In 2009 Peter Graystone had participated in the Wings Over Canada Centennial flight, taking ZHQ cross country to do so. Then, in 2010 the same group organized a fly-in to Whitehorse. Gerry Crapo and I flew there in ZHQ; Adrian Renkers, Clark Closkey and Wayne Maure flew in IUK, Bob and Valerie LeRoux flew in Bob’s Turbo Arrow, and Peter Graystone flew his Challenger ultralight, followed by Jill as ground support driving their new Ford F150. Gerry and I went direct from Prince George to McKenzie and along the Rocky Mountain Trench to Watson Lake, then Whitehorse, completing the whole trip in a day. The IUK group did an overnight stop in Dawson Lake, then followed the Alaska Highway. While we were there, Peter Graystone and I flew ZHQ to Dawson City, with Jill and Pat Ulicki as passengers, and we stayed about 1 ½ hours. That same day Clark had gone fishing, caught trout, gone shopping, and then cooked in the kitchen of the suite that Gerry and I had rented. There was quite a big group for dinner, including Erissa Yong. This was when I officially dubbed Gerry as ‘Fly-outs Chair’. Another side trip was to drive Peter’s F150 to Atlin, where we tried to make contact with club Life Member Jim Logan, but he was off on a fishing trip. And, of course, we also travelled to Skagway on the White Pass railway. That whole rail trip was through low cloud, and we arrived at the same time as two cruise ships, so the place was packed. We flew back from Whitehorse via Dease Lake, Smithers and Williams Lake. It was a memorable trip.
Gerry did an excellent job with fly outs. Alert Bay was a popular destination, with sizable groups going in both 2011 and 2012, and again in 2013. There were also organized fly-outs to Merritt, Kamloops, Kelowna, Princeton, Pemberton, Port Alberni, and Victoria. In 2010 there was a fly out to Boeing Field, which for some members was the culmination of all the excellent eAPIS training that Bob Fatkin had organized. The motorcycle group visited Merritt more than once, coming back the long way through Spences Bridge and Lytton, and there were trips to Kelowna, Mt Baker, and Harrison, and to Concrete for their hangar open day.
Wings and Wheels
The club’s original series of Wings and Wheels events had been discontinued because the airport replaced the compound fence, thus removing our ability to bring aircraft through onto the grass behind the clubhouse. So, when in 2012, we decided that the club should have a fly-in event in May, that is what it was billed as – a fly-in. It wasn’t actually a wings and wheels event. The new aircraft gate was only installed later, it really has been a Wings and Wheels event only since then.
At that time there was still a large acreage of grass tie-down space in the GA compound, and this is where visiting aircraft parked. Their pilots and passengers then walked through to the clubhouse. It had been nice to see so many old friends at the club’s 50th anniversary event in the previous September, and the aim of the event was simply to get pilots from elsewhere to start visiting our club again. There were no participation fees, and breakfast was free. Attendance was high. Breakfast was more than ample. Twenty aircraft flew in to visit. And everyone had a great time.
At the start of 2009 the club had only 88 members (including Associate Members and Life Members), but this grew steadily because of the benefits of membership, and in response to the easing of barriers to membership. The benefits included vibrant efforts regarding safety, fly-outs, social programs, general meeting speakers, and the positive future aircraft strategy. An initiation fee had been normal for the club since deep in the mists of time, but it had become a significant barrier to new members, because it was equal to a full year’s dues. Lowering it to $100 for 2009 was another way that the club celebrated 100 years of aviation in Canada. It was kept at this level for 2010 to celebrate 100 years of aviation in British Columbia. And it has stayed there ever since. Having more members increased the hours flown on club aircraft, thus helping share the fixed costs, helping to keep the hourly rate low, and validating the decision to keep three aircraft in operation. By the end of 2012, membership had reached 106, and 44 members were flying club aircraft.
In the meantime, we had inevitably lost some old friends: Monty Shore, Ed Zaleski and Doris Matthews in 2009; Dr Steve Kulczycky and Bill Murray in 2010; Paul Peregrym and Dean Sorkin in 2011; and Boyd Chalmers, Jim Webb and Ed Heaps in 2012. Steve Kulczycky and Jim Webb had each been made Life Members not long before they died. At the end of 2012, long-time member Shirley Hubbard was made an Honorary Member.
In October of 2012, we revived the ‘President’s Awards’. They were presented to Brodie Templeton for his many years of work for the airshow; Ed Boon for his promotion of fly-ins to the airshow; Stephen Head for managing the refurbishment of IUK; and Mark Thibault and Ron Becker for developing the Kid’s First Flights.
During the course of these four years, the club had developed reliable revenue and solid financial systems. The club had saved the XF buildings from demolition and added them to the hangar operation. There were strong social programs and developing events, the newsletter was great, and a safety culture had emerged. The aircraft were being refurbished. Flying hours increased, and organized fly-outs thrived, and membership grew. In December, Rachel Stewart sang at the Christmas TGIF.
Thus ended 2012.
By Steve Stewart
This instalment of the club’s history covers the period from mid-2004 to the end of 2008. The reason for starting in June 2004 is simply that it marks the start of our continuous electronic record of minutes from board meetings, general meetings and annual general meetings. The minutes and newsletters are all still available on the club website, which has developed a lot over the years, but which was originally created by Mark Thibault in 2004, and which he has maintained ever since. Mark provided a large pdf file of all those minutes from June 2004 through to December 2020. There are 2,721 pages in total, covering 16 ½ years. This instalment is for 4 ½ of those years. It is the first to deal with relatively recent events, which can be both a help and a hindrance to someone seeking to write a relatively short, yet complete and unbiased account. The amount of material available is vastly increased from previous instalments, and many of us remember details and nuances. What to include and what leave out, and how to avoid personal bias are questions that have no absolute answers. This is only an outline history; for detail you will have consult the sources directly. You might also choose to add you own account of certain episodes or issues. Pictures too, can be added later, by someone else.
Two issues characterize this period. The first was the expulsion and eventual return of a member. The second was the club’s relationship with the airport over it master plan, lease rates, and take-over of the hangars. These two issues played out against a background of the regular activities of flyouts, socials, aircraft, committee work etc, and also with an underlying problem of month-to-month financial practice, without assurance of adequate income.
A member had been expelled from the club in 2003, over accusations of removing or consuming beer from the bar without paying for it. He denied this, and there was widespread discontent with the way the board expelled him without giving members any details of their reasons. Monty Shore led the group that considered his expulsion unconstitutional. There were many in camera discussions at the board and at the general meetings. He maintained that he had been targeted because of personality conflicts with Bob Robertson, who was President at the time of the expulsion. The debate was often heated. Throughout 2004 and into 2005, the board(s) would not relent, and his applications to rejoin were repeatedly rejected. Eventually, the board allowed the member back in, but they insisted that he pay the full initiation fee again, as though he was a first-time new member. Again, he objected. President Bob Fatkin, who had not been around at the time of the expulsion, and was universally considered unbiased, put in a lot of work behind the scenes, and finally, the member agreed to pay the full initiation fee, but under protest, and the whole affair was declared finished in mid-2006. It had raised a number of issues regarding the powers of the board, disciplinary procedures, the need for a code of conduct, and the need to review the bylaws.
Work on these issues had started long before the affair was over. Daffydd Hermann was tasked with drafting a disciplinary process in 2005, and Heather Hicks worked on creating a Code of Conduct through 2004. Neither came to fruition, despite the sterling work contributed by Daffydd, Heather and others; falling victim to the immediate concerns of the ongoing situation. The bylaws were studied intensively by a series of Presidents and others, and in January 2008 Vice President Steve Stewart launched a full review as chair of a committee that welcomed participation from all members. After many constructive meetings, a completely revised set of bylaws was agreed by the committee and then went for legal review by Brian Loughlin. They were adopted unanimously at an extraordinary general meeting in January 2009, and then filed with Victoria.
Among other things, the new bylaws modified the membership grades. There were no changes for regular members and associate members. The existing Honorary Life Members (except Prince Philip) were renamed as Life Members, in recognition that they had earned their status. A new grade of Honorary Member was created. This title had been used previously for airshow volunteers, and in a moment of inspiration during the 40th anniversary celebrations in 2001, President Steve Kulczycky had bestowed it on the Finance Minister Gary Collins. It appears that Collins had once applied to join the club, but was refused. At that time, he was a flight instructor. His new honorary title avoided embarrassment all around. It was an entirely honorary title without any rights. The bylaws enable the board to create Honorary Members for entirely ad hoc or pragmatic reasons, and for whatever term it decides. At this time Prince Philip’s status was changed from Honorary Life Member to Honorary Member for life. He had been unaware of his membership in the club, but happily accepted his new status.
Although not part of the bylaws, a process was drafted by Bob Robertson and developed by the committee, for how to appoint Life Members in future. The intention was to avoid the type of embarrassment that had happened in 2007 when Tom Zurowski was nominated for HLM by Monty Shore from the floor at the February general meeting. Tom was present at the time. The motion was quite properly tabled, pending proper process. Some time later, when there were two HLM vacancies, Larry Runnalls and Tom Zurowski were nominated, with the intention that members would vote on the motion at the AGM. Again, the motion was tabled.
In this period the club had lost four of its Honorary Life Members: Herb Hough in 2005; Frank Hubbard in 2006; and Bob Velvarsky and Franz Stigler in 2008. We also lost long-time member Hart Long in 2004, Past-President Sam Stephens in 2006, and long-time former member Wally Horne in 2008. All were from natural causes except the loss of Herb Hough. In August 2005 Herb and a passenger, in his Wagabond, went missing on a flight from Vavenby (north of Kamloops) to Abbotsford, without having filed a flight plan. The search covered a wide area and was finally called off in September without a result. Many members had been involved. Eventually, in early October the aircraft was found in the North Thompson River where it had crashed just after take off. Both Herb and his passenger had been killed.
Before that, another flying incident had happened in July 2005, but fortunately without a tragic ending. A member, flying ZHQ with passengers, had got stuck above cloud with fuel running low. He eventually found a gap and descended, but with his engine about to stop at any moment, he landed in a small field and finally stopped when he reached a wire fence. Deciding that any damage was superficial, He obtained fuel from somewhere, and after some further complications, flew back to CYXX. His decisions were called into question, and were the subject of a disciplinary enquiry. He paid for the damage that wasn’t covered by insurance, and undertook to no longer fly club aircraft. Because the engine and propellor had already stopped before reaching the fence, there was no need to tear down the engine. This had not been the case some months earlier, in May, when a member had landed on Pender Island and taxied through long grass – long enough to drag on the propellor and slow the engine. This was considered a prop strike by Lycoming, and the engine had to be torn down and the crankshaft inspected. It seemed that ZHQ was forever undergoing expensive engine work. In 2008 it developed a crack in the crankcase, which put it off-line for quite some time. And at the same time three cracked cylinders had to be replaced in HXT.
Other, more predictable aircraft issues included the approaching need to rebuild IUK’s engine, the need for 406 MHz ELTs, a desire to install GPS in IUK, and the need to paint IUK. As well, IUK had a fuel burn rate problem unless the mixture control was pulled most of the way back. The problem was that at take off, landing, in climb, and at low altitudes, normal practice is to run full-rich, and at full-rich IUK was burning up to 14 gph. Its fuel burn only came down to a reasonable level with significant use of the mixture control. This didn’t make it run lean. It just stopped it running excessively rich. The problem was not solved until IUK was completely refurbished in 2012.
The club aircraft were the source of two other interrelated concerns. One was their declining hours of use each year, and the other was the hourly rental rates. The cost of flying has always been high, and members were simply flying less than previously. But this meant the fixed costs were spread over less flying hours, and the result was a need to increase hourly rates. As the rates increased, the hours flown decreased further. The club needed more members, to increase the hours flown, and thus hold down the hourly rates. But not all members were happy with the prospect of increased member numbers, who would compete for aircraft bookings, and possibly join the club just because they wanted to fly!
The airport had been owned by the City of Abbotsford since 1997, and they were keen to create a master plan for how it should develop as a revenue source for the City. They had purchased it for just $10. Their plan had huge impact on the club and other tenants. It called for a new terminal building in the infield and re-designation of the appropriate land use in most parts of the airport. The whole GA compound, containing our hangar building, the two Jake Friessen buildings, and the three Harry Froese buildings, plus our clubhouse, were in the wrong place. That whole area was needed for some unspecified high-value development that would emerge in time. This made leases impossible to renew. The previous Transport Canada practice was to renew leases almost automatically, on 10 year terms, but now the airport was only granting extensions, one year at a time. The crunch came in 2007. Someone at the City had spotted an opportunity to terminate low paying leases and to turn them into a direct rental operation – they had realized that the existing leases included vesting clauses on expiry. This meant they could acquire buildings from former leaseholders at no cost; by not renewing leases they kept the land available for those imagined dream developments; and in the meantime they could make much more money from renting. When the club’s leases expired in May 2007, they simply took over ownership of the buildings, and then offered to rent them back to us at massively increased cost, on a month by month basis, and with the expectation that GA would have to move somewhere else at just 90 days notice.
This put the club in a horrible situation. Finances were already weak and there was no ability to pay the rents demanded. There was no security of tenure, and the club was faced with the prospect of being moved out on very short notice. There was no money to undertake new development elsewhere on the airport. It also meant that the club needed to buy out the members who had invested in the hangars’ construction. Jonathon Dugdale and Steve Stewart met with the airport numerous times, seeking for a solution. The eventual agreement between the club and the airport saw a much lower $/sqft rental rate than had been asked for originally, and an absolute minimization of how many square feet were rented. For the hangar building — it meant we only rented the building itself, with the airport retaining all responsibility for the taxiways and tie-downs. For the clubhouse, we rented its actual footprint plus a one metre strip around the perimeter and from the front door to the road. Then there were the hangar investors to deal with. They had each put in $12,000 towards initial construction cost, and this gave them a hangar, which they ‘owned’. Over time, if they moved away or no longer needed their hangar, the club found funds to acquire the hangar for the initial contribution plus a CPI adjustment. The club had quite recently paid out for three hangars in 2005 and one in 2006. And there were still nine hangar investors remaining to be paid, for a total cost of around $135k. In principle there were funds to cover these costs, but they were tied up in two bonds; one with the Royal Bank for $48k would mature in 2008, and the other was a Bell Canada bond for about $140k maturing in 2010. The smaller bond would provide a welcome injection of cash but was not enough to pay off the investors. The Bell Canada bond had to be sold, but complications meant that this could not happen until July of 2009. Then the investors were paid off. Their patience had helped prevent insolvency. The club had already changed their status from ‘owners’ to ‘renters’ effective from May 2007. Some were not happy with the new arrangement, but all eventually accepted the changes. Tom Grozier had taken over as Treasurer by this time, and he put huge time and effort into the new arrangements, and managing cash flow.
All the hangar rents were increased in January 2008 to a level closer to market rates. However, club members received a discount. The 90 day cancellation clause remained, and efforts were made to find a way to relocate the hangars and clubhouse when necessary. In the meantime, although we no longer owned them, the hangars were now a dependable revenue stream, so long as the 90 day notice held off.
One effect of the uncertainty pre 2007 and the 90 day clause afterwards, was a reluctance to invest money into building repairs and maintenance. Even so, the Butch Merrick store room was completely renovated in 2005, the flight room was significantly improved, the clubhouse exterior was painted by Dean Lundstrom in 2007 and the clubhouse roof was redone in 2006. Paying for the roof required a special assessment of $30 per member. It is not clear why the storeroom had come to be considered the Butch Merrick room. In 1978, soon after he died, the meeting room had been named in his honour. Perhaps that had been forgotten in the intervening years, because, as well as putting Butch’s name on a new name plate on the storeroom door, it was decided to also name the meeting room for Gordon Cockereil, the flight room for John McGowan, and another room for Lloyd Weeks. Or maybe there is another explanation.
The club’s finances had been a concern for some time. Since the year-of-no-airshow (1998) the club’s revenue from the show was much reduced, and much less certain. It came from the campground, from film sales and from the Broken Prop. During the year, various other activities such as an annual auction and garage sale also brought in revenue, as did some social events such as Wings and Wheels. And, of course, there were the membership dues, initiation fees, bar income, aircraft rental income, and some income from hangars. Airshow film sales had previously been very profitable, with the club netting thousands of dollars from each airshow, but digital cameras killed that business. In 2004 film sales revenue to the club was only $500 and they were discontinued from 2005. The Broken Prop was hugely popular, but it consumed vast amounts of volunteer effort. And it had come to depend on the able leadership of Kathryn Carpenter. After she left the club there was change of direction for 2007. Volunteers who had previously worked at the Broken Prop were re-deployed to other airshow areas for which the club was responsible – fly-in aircraft, static display, and campground; and a contractor was brought in to run the Broken Prop. The service to campers and volunteers was preserved, but the income to the club all but disappeared.
Before 1998, there had been three major income streams: aircraft rentals, membership dues, and airshow income. But aircraft rental income was lower than operating costs (as it always has been), and airshow income was now reduced and uncertain. The membership dues continued pay for the clubhouse and its associated expenses (as has been the case from 1968 to the present day). The other sources of income were not as reliable as the airshow income had been previously — even though they could generate significant revenue, such as the 2004 auction which raised $8,679. Most other events only raised amounts of hundreds of dollars, and they might sometimes lose money. The club needed more revenue: to make up the shortfall from aircraft operations, to pay increasing lease rates, and to periodically buy out hangar investors as their hangars became available. The need for a strategic plan was clear, and the first plan had been put together in early 2004. It contained a wealth of good objectives, but it could not adequately address the financial issues, and it could not foresee the future actions of the City with regard to the club’s leases. There were periodic increases in both annual membership dues and aircraft hourly rates. Another strategic plan was developed in 2007, by which time the intentions of the City were clear. The new plan recognized the need to review the constitution and bylaws, the uncertainty regarding the hangars and the clubhouse, the need for more reliable revenue, and the need to review and improve all financial practices. In 2008 the hangars had already started to contribute more significantly to club revenues, and Tom Grozier undertook a complete update of financial practices. He had inherited a system that relied on diligent application by the Treasurer and a group of other members, but which was no longer adequate. Annual reports and tax returns had not been filed, some members’ accounts had been in arrears for a long time, a number of accounts were disputed, and some accounts were obviously no longer collectable. He brought in a professional bookkeeper to keep track of everything, and for the first two years he paid her bills from his own pocket.
During this period there were flyouts, socials, parties, Young Eagles flights, Wing and Wheels, and all the usual activities of the club. The auctions and garage sales had been a great source of revenue, but they did not continue after Carol Griffith stepped down from organizing them. By 2004 the club’s Young Eagles flights had flown over 500 kids, but 2005 was the final year of AFC participation. In September 2006 the club flew 24 boy scouts, and their leaders, instead.
The major social event of 2006 was the 60th anniversary of John Spronk’s first solo flight. It had been in a Tiger Moth, and in recognition of this, the Museum of Flight in Langley flew him to the event in their Tiger Moth. Franz Stigler’s 92nd birthday was celebrated in 2007; followed by Bill Gibson’s 80th birthday and Monty Shore’s 90th birthday in 2008. In 2005 the club hosted a very successful reunion for former members of 5OTU, who had been based at RCAF Abbotsford during the war. Also, there were corn-roasts and turkey dinners and a pork roast at the club. In the early part of this period Dean Lundstrom organized many popular dinners for members at various local restaurants, and in later years Rick Duerkson began to steadily build the TGIFs into a well attended, regular event. Many flyouts were planned, and many were cancelled for weather. But some major flyouts did happen, involving multiple planes and large groups of members, to places like Alert Bay, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Sproat Lake. Some members went as far as Oshkosh and Reno. Many went to Chilliwack for breakfast and pie.
Wings and Wheels started in 1998, as something to do instead of an airshow. It was very popular, attracting dozens of aircraft and scores of cars. It usually made money, if the weather complied, and the auction and garage sale could be held on the same day. It relied on bringing aircraft through the airside perimeter fence, and the club had modified the fence so that it could be laid flat on the ground, thus allowing aircraft to taxy over it. But this left the fence ‘floppy’, because the posts were cut at ground level and only the tensioned wire held it up. After taking over the hangar compound, the airport did some improvements to drainage, the gates, and the fence. They moved the north fence about 10 feet away from the ex-Friessen buildings as a security measure – and while doing so they restored its structural integrity, so that it could no longer lie flat. This ended Wings and Wheels, until, under new airport administration some years later, when they installed the present 40 foot wide gate.
A whole list of other organisations continued to use the clubhouse. CASARA and the RAA had their own keys and held regular meetings, as did the Lions from 2008. The Abbotsford Police held ad hoc briefings there. Westjet, the police and others had Christmas parties. The Aerobatics club was welcomed each year at the time of their competitions. The Vintage Car Club held reunions. A new flight school, 3 Lines Aviation, ran a ground school in the meeting room in 2006, and its CFI, Justin Miller became a member. Many members also booked the clubhouse for their own private functions.
Throughout, the regular meetings (and some irregular) continued. In 2004 Ron Shore talked about his trip on Concorde. In 2005 Frank Hubbard gave a fascinating talk about his professional experiences as an Aeronautical Engineer. In 2005 Keith Wade spoke about flying in Papua New Guinea. In 2005 Michael Desmazes talked about the wartime history of the airport. In 2006 Clark Closkey described events from his year in Australia. In 2008 Kaitlyn Herbst of Global TV told us about her experiences in the Global traffic helicopter. Also in 2008, we heard about the Mosquito restoration happening at YVR, Adrian Cooper visited to talk about the Reno air races, George Miller talked about his career, and Taylor Morrison told us about his trip to Oshkosh as a new pilot in ZHQ.
They were interesting times.
Click here for an interesting account of the RAF’s Vulcan bombers at Red Flag in Nevada back in the day…
An older story but still an interesting read:
It was a rough and noisy plane by today’s standards, but at the time who would know the difference as that was the best they had. They sure stood up well. We members of the over-the-hill lot can still well remember when the gooney-bird was considered to be high tech…
Now the DC3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.
‘It groaned, it protested, it rattled, it ran hot, it ran cold, it ran rough, it staggered along on hot days and scared you half to death. Its wings flexed and twisted in a horrifying manner, it sank back to earth with a great sigh of relief. But it flew and it flew and it flew.’
This is the memorable description by Captain Len Morgan, a former pilot with Braniff Airways, of the unique challenge of flying a Douglas DC-3.
It’s carried more passengers than any plane in history, but – Now the DC-3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.
The DC-3 served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and was a favourite among pilots!
For more than 70 years, the aircraft known through a variety of nicknames — the Doug, the Dizzy, Old Methuselah, the Gooney Bird, the Grand Old Lady — but which to most of us is simply the Dakota — has been the workhorse of the skies.
With its distinctive nose-up profile when on the ground and extraordinary capabilities in the air, it transformed passenger travel and served in just about every military conflict from World War II onwards.
Now the Douglas DC-3 — the most successful plane ever made, which first took to the skies just over 30 years after the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight — is to carry passengers in Britain for the last time.
Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee, the last two passenger-carrying Dakotas in the UK, are being forced into retirement because of — yes, you’ve guessed it — health & safety rules.
Their owner, Coventry-based Air Atlantique, has reluctantly decided it would be too expensive to fit the required emergency- escape slides and weather-radar systems required by new European rules for their 65-year-old planes, which served with the RAF during the war.
Mike Collett, the company’s chairman, says: “We’re very saddened.” The end of the passenger-carrying British Dakotas is a sad chapter in the story of the most remarkable aircraft ever built, surpassing all others in the length of service, dependability, and achievement.
It has been a luxury airliner, transport plane, bomber, fighter, and flying hospital, and introduced millions of people to the concept of air travel.
It has flown more miles, broken more records, carried more passengers and cargo, accumulated more flying time, and performed more ‘impossible’ feats than any other plane in history, even in these days of super-jumbos that can circle the world non-stop.
Indeed, at one point, 90 percent of the world’s air traffic was operated by DC-3s. More than 10,500 DC-3s have been built since the prototype was rolled out to astonished onlookers at Douglas’s Santa Monica factory in 1935.
With its eagle beak, large square windows, and sleek metal fuselage, it was luxurious beyond belief, in contrast to the wood-and-canvas bone shakers of the day, where passengers had to huddle under blankets against the cold.
Even in the 1930s, the early Dakotas had many of the comforts we take for granted today, like on-board loos and a galley that could prepare hot food. Early menus included wild-rice pancakes with blueberry syrup, served on bone china with silver service.
For the first time, passengers were able to stand- up and walk- around while the plane was airborne.
But the design had one vital feature, ordered by pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was a director of TWA, which placed the first order for the plane. The DC-3 should always, Lindbergh directed, be able to fly on one- engine.
Pilots have always loved it, not just because of its rugged reliability but because, with no computers on board, it is the epitome of ‘flying by the seat- of- the- pants’. One aviator memorably described the Dakota as a ‘collection of parts flying in loose formation’, and most reckon they can land it pretty well on a postage stamp.
Captain Len Morgan says: ‘The Dakota could lift virtually any load strapped to its back and carry it anywhere and in any weather safely.’
It is the very human scale of the plane that has so endeared it to successive generations. With no pressurization in the cabin, it flies low and slow. And unlike modern jets, it’s still possible to see the world go by from the cabin of a Dakota. (The name, incidentally, is an acronym for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.)
As a former Pan Am stewardess puts it: “From the windows, you seldom look upon a flat, hazy, distant surface to the world. “Instead, you see the features of the earth — curves of mountains, colours of lakes, cars moving on roads, ocean waves crashing on shores, and cloud formations as a sea of popcorn and powder puffs.
But it is for heroic feats in military service that the legendary plane is most distinguished. It played a major role in the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings, the Berlin Airlift, and the Korean & Vietnam wars, performing astonishing feats along the way.
When General Eisenhower was asked what he believed were the foundation stones for America’s success in World War II, he named the bulldozer, the jeep, the half-ton truck, and the Dakota.
When the Burma Road was captured by the Japanese, and the only way to send supplies into China was over the mountains at 19,000 ft, the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek said: ‘Give me 50 DC-3s, and the Japs can have the Burma Road ..’
In 1945, a Dakota broke the world record for a flight with an engine out of action, traveling for 1,100 miles from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, with just one propeller working.
Another in RNZAF service lost a wing after colliding mid-air with a Lockheed bomber. Defying all the rules of aerodynamics, and with only a stub remaining, the plane landed, literally, on a wing and a prayer at Whenuapai Airbase.
Once, a Dakota pilot carrying paratroops across the Channel to France heard an enormous bang. He went aft to find that half the plane had been blown away, including part of the rudder. With engines still turning, he managed to skim the wave-tops before finally making it to safety.
Another wartime Dakota was rammed by a Japanese fighter that fell to earth, while the American crew returned home in their severely damaged — but still airborne —plane, and were given the distinction of ‘downing an enemy aircraft’.
Another DC-3 was peppered with 3,000 bullets in the wings and fuselage by Japanese fighters. It made it back to base, was repaired with canvas patches and glue, and then sent back into the air.
During the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, a Dakota crew managed to cram aboard 98 Vietnamese orphans, although the plane was supposed to carry no more than 30 passengers.
In addition to its rugged military service, it was the DC-3 that transformed commercial -passenger flying in the post-war years.
Easily converted to a passenger plane, it introduced the idea of affordable air travel to a world that had previously seen it as exclusively for the rich.
Flights across America could be completed in about 15 hours (with three stops for refueling), compared with the previous reliance on short hops in commuter aircraft during the day and train- travel overnight.
It made the world a smaller place, gave people the opportunity for the first time to see previously inaccessible destinations, and became a romantic symbol of travel.
The DC-3’s record has not always been perfect. After the war, military-surplus Dakotas were cheap, often poorly maintained, and pushed to the limit by their owners. Accidents were frequent. One of the most tragic happened in 1962, when Zulu Bravo, a Channel Airways flight from Jersey, slammed into a hillside on the Isle of Wight in thick fog. All three crew and nine of the 14 passengers died, but the accident changed the course of aviation history.
The local radar, incredibly, had been switched off because it was a Sunday. The national air safety rules were changed to ensure it never happened again.
‘The DC-3 was, and is, unique,’ wrote the novelist and aviation writer Ernest Gann, ‘since no other flying machine has cruised every sky known to mankind, been so admired, cherished, glamorized, known the touch of so many pilots and sparked so many tributes.
“It was without question the most successful aircraft ever built, and even in this jet-age, it seems likely that the surviving DC-3s may fly about their business forever..”
This may be no exaggeration. Next month, Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee begin a farewell tour of Britain’s airports before carrying their final passengers at the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 16.
But after their retirement, there will still be Dakotas flying in the farthest corners of the world, kept going with love, dedication, and sheer ingenuity. Nearly three-quarters of a century after they first entered service, it’s still possible to get a Dakota ride somewhere in the world.
I recently took a DC-3 into the heart of the Venezuelan jungle — to the “Lost World” made famous in the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of the most remote regions on the planet — where the venerable old planes have long been used because they can be maneuvered like birds in the wild terrain.
It’s a scary experience being strapped into a torn canvas chair, raked back at an alarming angle (walking along the aisle of a stationary Dakota is like climbing a steep hill) as you wait for take-off.
The engines spew smoke and oil as they shudder into life with what DC-3 fans describe as ‘music’, but to me sounded like the hammering of a thousand pneumatic-drills. But soon you are skimming the legendary flat-topped mountains protruding from the jungle below, purring over wild rivers and the Angel Falls , the world’s highest rapids. Suddenly the ancient plane drops like a stone to a tiny landing strip just visible in the trees.
The pilot dodges bits of dismantled DC-3 engines scattered on the ground and avoids a stray dog as he touches down with scarcely a bump. How did he do it without air traffic control and the minimum of navigational aids? ”C’est facile — it’s easy,” he shrugged.
Today, many DC-3s live-on throughout the world as crop-sprayers, surveillance patrols, air freighters in forgotten African states, and even luxury executive transports. One, owned by a Houston lumber company, had mink-covered door- knobs, while another belonging to a Texas rancher had sofas and reclining chairs upholstered with the skins of unborn calves..
In Jaipur, India, a Dakota is licensed for flying wedding ceremonies.
Even when they have ended their aerial lives, old Dakotas have become mobile homes, hamburger stands and hen houses. One even serves as a football team changing room.
Clark Gable’s private DC-3, which once ferried chums such as John and Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan, is in a theme park in San Marino. But don’t assume it won’t run again. Some of the oldest hulks have been put back in the skies.
The ancient piston-engines are replaced by modern turboprops, and many a pilot of a modern jet has been astonished to find a Dakota alongside him on the climb away from the runway.
So what is the enduring secret of the DC-3? David Egerton, professor of the history of science and technology at Imperial College, London, says we should rid our minds of the idea that the most recent inventions are always the best.
‘The very fact that the DC-3 is still around and performing a useful role in the world is a powerful reminder that the latest and most expensive technology is not always the one that changes history,’ he says.
It’s long been an aviation axiom that ‘the only replacement for the DC-3 is another DC-3’. So it’s fortunate that at least one seems likely to be around for a very long time to come.
In 1946, a DC-3 on a flight from Vienna to Pisa crashed into the top of the Rosenlaui Glacier in the Swiss Alps. The aircraft was not damaged and all the passengers were rescued, but it quickly began to disappear as a blinding snowstorm raged.
Swiss engineers have calculated that it will take 600 years for it to slide- down inside the glacier and emerge at the bottom.
The most asinine ruling ever dreamed up by a nightmare bureaucracy!!!
I especially appreciate the part requiring “escape slides”. On it’s belly, you can step down from the aircraft floor to the ground.
ONE OF THE SAFEST PLANES EVER BUILD, FOR OUR USE,
WITHOUT ALL THE NEW GADGETS,
IS BEING GROUNDED.
IT SURE BROUGHT US WHERE EVER AND WHENEVER WE WANTED
AND TOOK US BACK SAFELY.
Thanks a million ‘Old Bird’, DC3, C47 or ‘DAKOTA’.
You’ll be missed a lot, for carrying us to safety, when we needed you to.
Club member Ken Bucholz made a “Flight into Yesterday”I was going through some old magazines of his fathers.
The articles and ads are from the December 1955 issue of Canadian
Cessna Aircraft is now producing a tricycle undercarriage version of
the 170, known as the 172, with a tail similar to the 180.
It has a “land-o-matic” gear you can drive!
The story is about a BC aviator, Albert Mah from Prince Rupert.