Category Archives: Blog

President’s Column September 2020

AFC President SealDear Members, what a roller coaster ride our summer has been! I hope that this edition of the newsletter finds you healthy and safe.

I was just talking to Janet, who manages all the accounting for AFC and –more than anything – provides stability and continuity for our club from administration to administration. She told me that until now, our biggest flying month covered two logbook pages. This past month, we managed to get through four! I’ll be reporting out on our monthly numbers for the past couple months at our next meeting.

Kevin has put forward our financial report, in written form this year due to COVID restrictions. There are quite a few lessons to take out of it, but one of the main ones is that we’ve managed to weather things well because of wise investments and careful management. While many other clubs are doubling dues or simply closing their doors, we’re still able to keep our membership costs low – not to mention hourly flying costs. Kevin is a valuable member of our leadership team and a testimonial to how important it is to have a qualified professional in the role of Treasurer.

Our nomination committee has selected a group of nominees and we’ll be publishing them on the website, as is our newly established tradition. The website was originally set up to ensure that members could go into the AGM with an informed view of who was running . We couldn’t have foreseen the restrictions that a global pandemic have wrought on everything, but we are certainly thankful now that we’ve set it up. What was put in place for information and ease of use has turned out to be a great help in overcoming social distancing restrictions. This year will be no different – each candidate will be able to put up a photo and write a short blurb about who they are, what their vision is for the club and what they bring to the leadership role. You’ll
also be able to make your “from the floor” nominations virtually via the comments section on the website.

The last thing I’d like to share with you is something I find really really cool. It’s an online map showing NOTAMs. You may remember in one of our past Prepair sessions that this was a suggestion put forward to Nav Canada during their feedback session. Well, wait no longer! Just go to http://www.notammap.com/ and you can start looking at geo-located regions that identify each NOTAM. Simply click on each coloured circle to get the NOTAM information. Go check it out!

Safe flights and stay healthy,
George Aung Thin,
President, Abbotsford Flying Club

AFC Centennial Cairn Project

AFC Centennial Cairn Project by Steve Stewart
Just over a year from now the AFC will have achieved 60 years of existence. We should celebrate this milestone positively. This is a good opportunity to look forwards rather than just scraping about in the mud of the present and recent past. We should look forward another 40 years to the club’s first centennial.

Call me a simple-minded behaviourist engineer if you like, but I don’t think that unity can be achieved by arguing about differences.  However, one thing that can help is to successfully complete a shared project, and that is what this proposal calls for.

Any of you that have read about the airshow cairn and time-capsule will be aware of some of the defining properties of that particular project –  it marked an important event; it was done with an eye to the future; it used rocks flown in from around the world; and it worked.

We should celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary by building another cairn. We already have some of the required ingredients:  it is an important event; it can celebrate our renewed forward-looking attitude; we have a nice piece of concrete to use as a core; we have material for another time-capsule; and we have the ability to collect rocks.

The piece of concrete is something we unearthed last year while working on the hangar compound paving project.  It is one of the original foundation posts for one of the wartime buildings – perhaps the officers club, which became the Armouries and is where the club met in the early days.  It happens to be exactly the right size and shape to act as a core for a stone cairn of the same design we just opened a few weeks ago. Its history will link the earliest days of the airport’s existence through the decades and into the future. Lorenzo and I have been thinking about that piece on concrete for a while, and our experience opening the airshow cairn confirmed why it had suddenly emerged from the earth after so many buried years. The very force of destiny itself was at work.

We should collect rocks ourselves – from trips we fly ourselves – from wherever we fly to.  But this time we should keep a record of which rock was brought from where, by who. Every rock has its own story.  I believe that there was a story for every rock in the airshow cairn, but no records have survived, and the only one we can identify is the one from the original London Bridge. This time, let’s not lose that information. In fact, let’s include it in the time capsule.

The contents of the time capsule should describe the club, where it came from, its history, and where it will go in the next forty years. It’s a story worth recording, and worth continuing into the future. Not every detail or episode is good, but overall it is a record of solid achievement, service to the community, and celebration of aviation, while also providing valuable opportunities to Members to advance their own aviation careers and interests in a community of like-minded individuals.

This is not a financially expensive project- the cost will be just the cost of some concrete and cement. What it will require from participants is rocks, with their background stories, and a commitment to be part of building something solid and positive, which will last for many years into the future.

COVID 19 Closure of AFC Clubhouse and facilities update

As we all know, COVID-19 is quite stubborn and persistent and the board has been evaluating re-opening the clubhouse and facilites on an ongoing monthly basis.

As of the last board meeting., the board of directors discussed the issue again and felt that due to the persistence of COVID and the inability of the AFC to ensure proper sanitisation during any kind of ongoing operations to reduce the transmission risk, the board is compelled to keep the clubhouse in the current status of only having the option of the washrooms and flight room being open and able to be used for club members.

There is only one exception to this, and that is for CASARA to use the entrance doors to the meeting room for their exercises. We have extensively discussed this with CASARA and Paul Monchamp and they EXTENSIVELY sanitise what they use and touch with demonstrated dilligence and only a select few of their members will be allowed in the clubhouse at any time.

There are also some resources to view for more information: http://covid-19.bccdc.ca/Another good link is https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Werner Griesbeck and his Wonderful 1938 Fairchild 24K

Werner Griesbeck and his Wonderful 1938 Fairchild 24K

By Bob Leroux

We ended our summer of aviation activities on Monday with a Labour Day corn roast with the Langley Aeroclub on a beautiful, but very windy, day.

It was a special day for member Werner Griesbeck. Werner has been a pilot for decades and was a long-time air traffic controller at Langley Tower. He has owned a beautiful 1938 Fairchild 24K since the 1980’s. Werner and his Fairchild have won various awards including from the EAA-Canada presented in Oshkosh in 2017, and locally from the Abbotsford Flying Club in 2018.

Werner has decided that it was time to part with his pride and joy. The Fairchild is going to a new home in the United States and the first leg of the journey is to Bellingham, WA. On Monday there was extraordinarily strong outflow winds from the BC interior, so the flight was delayed for another day for more favourable conditions.

Thanks Werner, for sharing your aircraft and your passion for aviation.

More photos can be seen on Bob’s imaging website: https://navpathimaging.com/?page_id=3144

President’s column August 2020

Dear Members, August has been a difficult month, but it can also be taken as a reminder of how lucky we are.  Our community was rocked by the sudden and tragic loss of our fellow pilot Erissa Yong-Wilson in an aviation accident.  The Abbotsford Airshow was supposed to have been this month, but due to the global pandemic has been cancelled.  First Flights has been cancelled due to ongoing COVID concerns.  Nevertheless we soldier on – we will remember our fallen fellows and we can rest assured that there will be other Airshows as well as ample opportunities to inspire the next generation of aviators to fly. AFC President Seal

Our invoices for annual dues go out this month and you may be surprised to find that there is a twenty percent reduction for this year.  Since flight operations were affected we have discounted membership by that amount.  We’re also offering a deferral program for those of us who may be struggling in this difficult time.  A FAQ is included if you need more details.  How are we able to do this, while other clubs have to raise annual dues to cover COVID costs?  The simple answer is thanks to our talented treasurer Kevin Mickleby and visionaries like Tom Grozier and Steve Stewart who set up the hangar corporation.  Kevin particularly has been able to pull us out of the financial peril our club was in two years ago.

Although we didn’t get to participate in an Airshow this year, we did carry on with the Time Capsule ceremony.  There’s an article in the newsletter about that as well.   I was honoured to participate and impressed by the hard work of research put in by Steve, Millie and the elbow-grease Lorenzo used to make sure the ceremony went smoothly on the day.  My favourite part was standing by Millie while perusing the contents of the capsule.

There’s going to be a “Wings and Wheels” celebration next weekend, though it’s just a drive through, for safety reasons.  Unfortunately, we are going to have to cancel the September pig roast as well.  I would still like to hold a dedication ceremony for the John Spronk bench, with his widow Patricia in attendance; perhaps we can do something in the same style as was employed for the time capsule ceremony.

Safe flights and stay healthy,
George Aung Thin,

President, Abbotsford Flying Club

Airshow Timecapsule opening ceremony

by Steve Stewart, photos by Bob Leroux

Friday morning we opened the time capsule that had been sealed since 1970.  You all already know the story of the Cairn and the time-capsule from what we wrote a couple of months ago.  So this note is just about the event today.  In fact, you may have seen it live on the Airshow’s Facebook page, or later on Global TV or have even read in the Abbotsford News.

George Aung-Thin and Steve Stewart at the cairn with the new time capsule

The original plan had been to open the time-capsule at 1pm, the same time that it was sealed 50 years ago, and that this would fit nicely into the first day of this year’s airshow and with the ADSE event at Tradex.  But that obviously didn’t happen. However, we still had to open the time capsule.   So, to fit with the current guidelines on gatherings, we scheduled it for 9am, because it would enable the whole thing to happen before the passengers started to arrive for the first scheduled flight of the day. We roped off an area about 60 feet by 60 feet, closed the right side traffic lanes, arranged for the ebus to stop a little way off from its usual location, set up the necessary equipment, had a pretty successful event.   The total number of attendees had to be kept below 50; and that was difficult at the invitation stage, because numbers add up quickly, just from airshow directors, the federal government representatives, City Mayor and counsellors, MLAs, MPs, AV guys, photographers media, etc etc.  When the time came, the numbers were not a problem, and I hope that everyone who really wanted to be there did in fact manage it.

Minister of Nation Defence, Harjit Sajjan and Mayor Henry Braun with other dignitaries

The airshow became the National Airshow at the suggestion of the federal government, which in 1970 was headed by Pierre Trudeau, so it was fitting that we invited Justin Trudeau to be here today. Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend, and instead, the federal government was represented by Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

Ken Hildebrandt with Bob Singleton

Ken Hildebrandt acted as MC for the event, and after some appropriate speeches, we opened the cairn (which, we had re-sealed temporarily, after having previously gained access and found the time capsule, as described previously).   The time-capsule broke open as I removed it, and then I removed the contents.  There were brochures, an airshow newsletter, business cards, and various messages.  I selected the one from Pierre Trudeau, and it was read out by long-time airshow announcer Bob Singleton, who also shared his memories from when the cairn was sealed back in 1970.

The cairn is located just to the south of the main terminal building. It is made of rocks from around the world

We laid out the contents for inspection, and also displayed the new time capsule that will be sealed in place quite soon.  After the original contents have been examined, photographed etc, they will be re-sealed and placed back in the cairn.  Our wish is that both time capsules will be opened again in 2070.  The new time capsule will contain messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of National Defence, Hargit Sajjan, Premier John Horgan, Mayor Henry Braun, the Board of the AIAS, George Aung Thin,  Parm Sidhu and others. There will also be some airshow memorabilia, photographs of the AIAS Directors and at least one USB memory stick.  It will contain a complete pdf file of the Airshow History Part One that we recently completed, plus all of the back ground material, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc from which that book was generated. I( hope that they can still read USB sticks in 2070.

George, Millie and Steve with the contents of the time capsule

As a practical footnote, for those of you interested in metal fabrication —  the original time capsule is a piece of copper pipe 3 inches diameter and 10 inches long.  I suspect that it may have been an offcut from the copper footrail that runs along our bar in the clubhouse.  I did consider removing another piece of the footrail for a new time capsule. But in fact the new capsule is a bit wider diameter. It is made from the casing of a 105mm howitzer shell, and Ed Boon arranged for a copper cap to machined to cap the end.

The old and the new time capsule

Member Dues Reduction 2020/2021

Dear Members,

You may have noticed that we’ve granted a 20% reduction in dues for the upcoming year 2020/2021.  We understand that these are tough times and that following the advice of the Provincial Health Authority means that restrictions on the use of the clubhouse.

We have already had a few e-mails back from members reflecting a wide spectrum of feelings on the matter, so here are some questions you have asked along with some answers.

Why are you spending so much?

We are able to portion out 20% of annual dues because of the income from the Hangar Corporation.  The vision, will and persistence of the members who set up YXX is paying off and keeping us in good financial health.  Many clubs are having to increase their dues owing to the fact that COVID protocols cost more and restrictions mean less income.

Why are you only giving me so little?

Based on Flight operations having been closed for two months, we calculated that a 20% reduction would be a fair amount.  We have a lot of fixed costs that need to be paid (see “What do my dues actually cover?”, below) and we don’t know how long the Pandemic will last.  Some have likened the Pandemic to a marathon, but marathon runners have said that marathons have a set, known end.

When will the club house be open to members again?

We will be guided by the Provincial Health Authority on this.  Board members are querying Provincial health resources to find out what we can do.  Keep in mind that 1) we don’t employ serving or cleaning staff who are bound to follow WorkSafe BC legislation 2) we are a club of volunteers 3) we don’t know how long these restrictions will last.

What do my dues actually cover?

In the simplest terms, the dues cover membership.  Income from various sources such as airshow activities, which include dues, cover our expenses.

So what are our fixed cost expenses?

  • Building – lease costs, heating, water, hydro, Telus (currently off), garbage, miscellaneous supplies
  • Administration – Accounting, member expenses (fuel), collection of member dues
  • Aircraft – Maintenance, repairs, insurance, registration, hangar costs

Why deferrals for hardship cases?

Not all of us are avoiding the impacts of COVID restrictions.  In special cases, and to preserve the membership, we are offering to defer membership dues.  Deferral does not mean that we are losing money or “subsidizing” younger peoples’ memberships, because the amount will still be owed.  The understanding is that there is a future time when they will be employed again and able to pay their fair share.  Providing support to all of our members in their time of need means that they get aid and assistance when they need it most. This also builds stronger sense of community culture within our club.

Thanks for your interest in this subject.  Please know that we’re doing our best to deal with a largely unknown situation in uncertain times.  Safety is a paramount concern and without knowing when this situation will draw to a conclusion we must act to sustain the club and care for its members.