Category Archives: Club News

New aviation photography website:

Many of us know Bob Leroux as an experienced aviator, teacher, mentor who runs NavPath Aviation.  What people may not know is that he is also an avid shutterbug.  Bob has set up a nifty website with various photos and stories on it.  His primary purpose is to share photographs of aviation, but there are some other delightful features on there such as a blog, his personal history of cameras and a heartwarming section where people can talk about their family flying experiences.  You can find it at:

The website was launched on June 21 which happened to be Father’s Day. There have been some changes since the launch and some pages on the site are still under development regarding their structure and photo galleries to be added. Also, you will find a Facebook page “NavPath Imaging” complimenting the website.

So why launch on Father’s Day? There is a bit of a “hook” on the ABOUT page. If you find it let me know by leaving a comment on the CONTACT page.

Enjoy the website and happy flying.

“Welcome to Matsqui, Home of the World Famous Abbotsford International Airshow”

“Welcome to Matsqui, Home of the World Famous Abbotsford International Airshow”

By Steve Stewart

It is common knowledge that until Abbotsford and Matsqui merged in 1995, Abbotsford Airport was not in Abbotsford. It was always in Matsqui. And that means the Abbotsford Flying Club was in Matsqui and the Abbotsford International Airshow was in Matsqui. This always seemed like an odd twist to reality, and it gave rise to signage on Highway One for traffic approaching the Mt Lehman road exit, which proclaimed the welcome used as a title for this piece. We are left wondering why the airport was not simply called Matsqui Airport when it was first built.

The explanation we have heard is that the Village of Abbotsford was simply the closest built up area to the airport, so the Air Force named their new station Abbotsford, without bothering to check where it actually was. It is true that the Village of Abbotsford is closer than the Village of Matsqui, and maybe the Air Force was distracted and busy with other concerns at the time, but it does seem unlikely that they would be so sloppy. They must have known full well that they were building in the District of Matsqui, and that the Village of Abbotsford was not involved.

This is a soil survey aerial photograph. The RCAF conducted huge amounts of aerial survey work in the 1920s and 1930s. The north-south road on the right is now Gladwin road. Harris road runs across the middle of the picture. The airstrip is north-south in the lower left quadrant. Matsqui Village is off to the right. (from The Reach archives)

The reason that the new RCAF station was not called Matsqui may have been because there was already a Matsqui Airport, and it had existed for over ten years. It was located on the Lundstrom farm in Gifford, on the south side of Harris road, one and a quarter miles west of Matsqui Village. Two of the Lundstrom brothers had been inspired by Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to build their own aeroplane. First they built a large barn to use as a hangar and base for aircraft construction. Then they built the aircraft. And they also built a runway – grass, as was normal at that time.  Then they held airshows. There had probably been earlier barnstorming visits by aviators to the area, but these airshows were the first organized airshows in what is now Abbotsford. And they were very successful.

The airstrip is north-south as indicated. Matsqui Village and Gladwin Road is off to the right. (Google Maps)

The Lundstroms’ achievements were quite remarkable given the era in which they were working. Soon after they started towards their vision, there came the Wall street crash. Then there were the hungry thirties. Unemployment in the Fraser Valley was huge. Labour camps were set up. There were marches. Then, in 1935 the Matsqui dykes gave way and the prairie was flooded.  But somehow the Lundstroms’ airfield remained in use, and in February 1939 a Flying Club was formed, based at what was called Matsqui Airport.

No photo description available.

Joseph and Robert Lundstrom intend to fly in the near future in the airplane, pictured above, which they built as a spare-time job on their father’s farm on Harris Road, Matsqui. Construction weas carried out under strict government supervision and took two years. They built the hangar with a solid concrete floor three years ago, then started on the ‘plane. When the photograph was taken this week by A., Bafton-Canning of Abbotsford the youths were preparing to put the finishing touches on the airplane. They are sons of Mr. and Mrs Daniel Lundstrom and were both born at Matsqui. From the Vancouver Sun, 12 July 1932

We can find no further mention of the flying club or the airport after June 1939. No doubt they disappeared during WW2. But when work started on RCAF Station Abbotsford, the existence of Matsqui Airport would have been well known.



Jumping forward to 1961, the year the Abbotsford Flying Club was formed – the new club’s name was a natural choice, given its location at Abbotsford Airport. Then our airshows started, and although the 1962 airshow was called the Rotary Air Show, for 1963 it became the Abbotsford Air Show.

1965 was the next important year in this story. An airshow episode was prophetic of what would happen thirty years later. At that time Abbotsford was still a village, just about one square mile, and centred around Essendene Avenue. It had just one traffic light. It was dwarfed by the District of Matsqui to its north and west, and the District of Sumas to its south and east. Both districts had been formed long before the creation of Abbotsford.

The star of the 1965 show was undoubtedly the brand new USAF Lockheed C-141 Starlifter. It was making only its second public appearance, having been at the Paris show two months earlier.   It was so popular that the name ‘City of Abbotsford, BC’ was painted on the side by Chuck Dennet, sign-painter and a founding member of AFC. Sid Collins had urged him on. Chuck was also responsible for Advertising, and this direct action approach was brilliantly successful. Later, a press release by the USAF and Lockheed confirmed that the name was ‘expected to remain on the aircraft as it travelled the world airlifting men and supplies for MATS’ (the Military Air Transport Service).

Chuck Dennet at work on the Starlifter

This was the first ever use of the name ‘City of Abbotsford’. It publicised the City of Abbotsford (which would not exist until 1995) around the world. Was it a statement of faith, or just a publicity stunt? The answer does not matter, because we have the press release, and we have a photograph of Chuck still only part way through the painting. The City of Abbotsford is proud of its brand, but do they own it?  Is it really the property of the AFC?

Fast forward again, to 1994. Years earlier the District of Sumas and the Village of Abbotsford had merged to form the Municipality of Abbotsford. The next merger would be of Abbotsford and Matsqui. But what would be the name of the new city?  Matsqui was much bigger, and senior in years. There was strong support for Matsqui, and it was clear the merger would shut down the Abbotsford administration buildings, with the new city administration based in the City Hall recently built by Matsqui on South Fraser Way in Clearbrook.  Matsqui is a Sto:Lo word meaning a stretch of higher ground. What could be more natural than to continue with the well-established and unique name?  A vote was held and Abbotsford won, by a wide margin.  The newspapers already knew the reasons for the choice, and the explanation was both simple and clear. The name Abbotsford was associated with the Airshow, and the Airshow was the single biggest factor in defining the community identity. Unfortunately, many people associated the name Matsqui with the prisons just south of the freeway.  It was no contest.

So the Airshow had defined the community, and given the name Abbotsford to the new City of Abbotsford.  And it had presented an image of that vison thirty years earlier, back in 1965.  Now, the name is second nature, the debate of 1994 is mostly forgotten, and the debt owed to the airshow unacknowledged.  But if Matsqui had not already had an airport back in the 1930s, our story may have been different.

Early years of the AFC

The inaugural meeting of the new club had been on November 14th 1961. There were over 24 people in attendance; a President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, and directors were elected; and the next meeting was set for December. For the first few months, the meetings would continue to be held in the waiting room of the Terminal Building (Hangar 2).  On December 12th the meeting ‘was attended by about 35 members which was a very good turnout considering the ‘white weather’ of that day, the business went off very well and afterwards a really interesting film was shown on high speed flight and plane designs. All in all it was a very good meeting.’  Films on aviation subjects were a regular feature of meetings. Everyone was keen to learn. Although there were a number of experienced pilots in the new club, a lot of the founding members were still working on licences, and their progress was reported regularly. The January 1962 Newsletter reported that five members had soloed since the previous meeting,; Bill Shandley had also passed his written test for PPL, and Ted Koppen was ‘the proud possessor of a spanking new private licence.’. There were also seven new members.  Monty Shore was not a new pilot, but his news, early in 1962, was that he had become one of the few people ever to fly the AeroCar.

It didn’t take long for the idea of an air show to come up. How it happened is described elsewhere. But suffice to say, by March, the decision had been made. The AFC, with some funding and help from the Rotary Club, would launch an event that would become world famous, and grow in ways that no-one could have anticipated at the time. From March through to August the joint committee of the AFC and RCA met repeatedly to hammer out details, send invitations, arrange insurance, fencing, food, etc etc. and as the date approached, more and more members became directly involved. It would be an all-out effort for the club – everyone did something to help ensure success.

In the meantime, winter had ended, the weather had improved and members were ready for fly-outs. The first ever fly-out, in May, was to Hudson Island. This appears to be a privately owned island, 2,500 feet long with a 1,900 foot gravel airstrip. It is just south of Thetis Island.  The next trip was to the Penticton Air Show in June. An entire package deal was arranged – a single payment of $16 covered air transport, accommodation, food and the show. It was less than a year since John and Patricia Spronk had moved from Penticton, and the visiting club was well received by their hosts. In our archives, we still have three minutes of video from the trip and the show.

June was also notable for the departure flight of the Supermarine Stranraer from Abbotsford, of which we again have some video. Glenn Matthews, and possibly other members, had worked on the aircraft while employed at Aerovive.

By May, the club meetings were being held in the Armouries building. This was the old Officers Club from RCAF days. It became the Skyline Club, and would become the venue for many memorable evenings during future airshows. In May the club held a dance. And they would have another in November.

The story of the first airshow is told elsewhere. It was a great success, and that paved the way to have another in 1963. It also brought a net sum of $255.43 into the club.  This was a significant amount at the time. Right from the start the airshow was international, and attracted as much participation from Washington aviators as from those in British Columbia. The stars had included Mark and Grace Hoskins, both flying Ryan monoplane trainers. Jack Brown, publisher of the Northwest Aviator, was also a major supporter. In November a flight of three Cessna 172s took members to Seattle on a mission to thank the Hoskins’ and Jack Brown.

The club’s visibility and activities had attracted a continuous stream of new members throughout the year. The membership roll in December amounted to 70.  At the AGM John Spronk passed the chair to newly-elected President Bill Shandley.

After its initial surge, the membership roll stayed at something less than a hundred throughout the 1960s. But of course not everyone attended meetings regularly – only 25 out of 70 had showed up for the 1962 AGM in December. And membership dues could be paid any time to the end of March. The target for 1963 was 100, but by May the paid-up number was 68, and it rose to 83 in June.  A similar situation prevailed early in 1964, with only 29 people at the March meeting, a newsletter membership circulation of 100, and only 53 paid-up.  By June the paid-up number rose to 75, but meeting attendance was still low, and there were newsletter appeals to support club activities.

For the first few years membership was open to anyone who applied, but by 1968 applicants had to get through an interview first. Some years later there were moves to set a maximum limit on the number of members, and to only admit pilots.  This would eventually lead to the idea of Associate Members.

It’s understandable that not all members attended all the meetings or supported all the activities – because there were so many. In 1963, in addition to the monthly meetings and everything that had to be done for the airshow: there was a fly-out in March to Seattle again, involving seven aircraft; Chuck Dennett and Bernie Bennion flew to Mexico and back; members attended fly-ins in Comox, Twin Harbors, Ancortes, and others; There was a navigation contest and breakfast fly-in organized for June, but the weather was awful and only the breakfast happened (attendance 160); a corn-roast in August; a dance in December; three members bought aircraft;  members continued to gain qualifications; and in September, J. Beshuisen departed in Cessna 150 NSC to Florida and possibly Bahamas. Hurricane Flora changed his plans. The newsletter reported him in Texas and heading home, and described his trip as great example of inexperienced pilot in light aircraft being able to undertake long trips. Flora was one of deadliest hurricanes in recorded history, so he had made a good decision. However, June had already seen the first fatality of a member. Robert Ford had joined September 1962.  His death was described as ‘very unfortunate accident’ in the newsletter. The DoT report card is very brief, and appears critical of his decision to fly into weather over Allison pass – stall during attempted 180 degree steep turn, three fatalities, aircraft destroyed.   On a more positive note, 1963 was also the year of the green club jackets. They cost $13.91 including taxes, and could be picked up at Bennion’s Pharmacy.

The 1964 newsletters indicate a similarly packed schedule of fly-outs,  visits, a spot landing contest , the Pendleton air races, Halloween party, etc etc  and the newsletter started to cite the one-time popular radio show ‘Let George do it’ (it was a private-eye drama that ran from 1946 to 1954.) Members were asked not to just ‘let George do it’.  There was lots to do, partly because by April the club had secured its own room in the terminal building above the reception lounge. It needed decorating, furniture and signage. Then for August there was a more permanent move to a room provided by Sumas Air Services for a rental of $30 per month. This was great location, with direct access to ramp, and a view across to Mount Baker. The single key was held at the Tower. It would be the club’s home until the move to the old fire-hall in 1968.

The fly-out for breakfast to Victoria in September was the first ever subsidized flight – it introduced what became known as the ‘flying incentive’. Pilots could be reimbursed 25% of their cost.

Some other 1964 events of note included: Doris Giles was selected as one of four women and five men for the Canadian team at the world parachuting championships in West Germany; Millie Watson completed her private pilot training under the scholarship provided by the club; there was a new airstrip built on Savary Island; the BCAC started to offer its aviation map of BC at a price of $5; the fully aerobatic Citabria was available at a Canadian price $5,250 inc fed sales tax; the federal government planned to increase duties again on all aircraft not manufactured in Canada; the Rotary Club pulled out of further airshow involvement, but their place was quickly filled by the EAA Chapter 85, which became equal partner with the AFC.

The club was clearly forging ahead on all fronts, and we can surmise that the collective vision was expansive. Nothing has survived of discussions around the vision for the club. However, we know from newspaper reports, that the vision for the airshow was being boosted continuously. Moreover, the airshow was an operation of the flying club, with the same people being involved in both. So it is safe to assume a similar expansive approach. This is supported by the range and quantity of new activities the club took on, and it is indicated explicitly in the Constitution that was approved by Victoria in June of 1963.  The club’s new Constitution went much further than what the club was already doing.  The ‘objects of the Society’ included everything from owning, leasing and operating aircraft, facilities, airports, hangars, depots, etc to promoting aviation in general, raising money in every possible way, and providing training. Everything listed was to be for the mutual benefit of all members. The only constraint mentioned in the ‘objects’ was that training would not include ab initio training. This constraint was significant, because the club had already become a member of the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association. It signified that the club would not be like many other flying clubs, where their main purpose was specifically to train new pilots. To have included such an object would have put the club into competition with existing flight schools at the airport. Abbotsford Air Services had been extremely supportive to the club’s formation and to the airshow. John Spronk was their CFI until the end of 1963, when he moved to Skyway Air Services. Herb Porter, the owner of AAS was one of the club’s founding members. Barry Marsden of SAS demonstrated water bombing regularly at the airshow. In fact, the club maintained excellent relations with both AAS and SAS, with members using their rental aircraft for the majority of club flying – even after the club bought its first Cessna 150 in 1968.

For the first few years the club’s finances were quite modest, and despite the aspirations to own and operate fleets of aircraft, airport facilities etc, the income streams were limited to annual dues, airshow revenues, and incidental revenues from other events such as pancake breakfasts.  But the only fixed expense commitment (from August 1964) was the $30 per month rent on the club meeting room, and as required by the Constitution, the financial resources that were available, were spent to the benefit of members and to promote aviation in general.  In 1963 the club earned a net revenue from the airshow of $900, and immediately spent most of it to support a glider being built by Air Cadets, and to provide an Air Ranger pilot training scholarship.  In the years prior to the 1967 Centennial airshow, the club’s revenue from the show never rose above a thousand dollars.  For 1966 airshow revenue was $471.46, and at the end of the year the club’s total equity was $4,690.93, all as cash in various forms.

In 1964 the club had started to subsidise the cost of members’ flying.  The idea was to encourage pilots to participate in club fly-outs, and to take other members with them.  The Board would announce that a certain fly-out would qualify for a particular level of subsidy, and afterwards the pilot could submit their receipts in order to receive a partial re-imbursement.  The qualifying criteria could also include attendance at a preceding general meeting.   In March 1967 the program became more general and was dubbed the ‘flying incentive’.  The discussion on this had started a year earlier. For 1967 each qualifying member was covered up to 20 flying hours, and the incentive value ranged from $2.50 to $3.50 per hour.  This was a significant contribution to the normal cost. Aircraft could be rented from either Abbotsford Air Services or from Skyway Air Services, and it appears that Skyway also gave its own discount of 10% to club members.  The net result was that a Cessna 150 could be flown for as little as $7.50 per hour.  Members had to apply to qualify for the incentive at the start of each year. To qualify, they had to be signed off as having passed a test flight, and they were expected to have supported club activities and attended meetings (missed no more than three in previous year). The cost of the subsidy was billed directly by the provider to the club. The dollar amounts and hours would change each subsequent year as necessary.

The club and its finances were changed forever by the 1967 centennial airshow.  Its annual airshow net income jumped from hundreds to thousands. The $6,103.35 received at the end of 1967, enabled purchase of the club’s first aircraft, at the end of 1968. Also in 1968 the club moved into the old fire-hall.  And the previously happy airshow partnership with the EAA would break down in acrimony.

Times were changing. Acquisition of a significant annual income, aircraft, and other assets, would lead to developments and issues that simply didn’t exist previously.

Aircraft wash station supplies

Thanks to Ryan Grendus of the AFC Hangar Committee for putting together our new aircraft wash station. Please do not use the brushes for the underside (Belly) of the aircraft as the oil and contaminants will damage the brushes and they will be unusable after that. Please only use the brushes for the main surfaces.

The club will do some research into proper degreasing chemicals or solutions to clean the underbelly of the aircraft. If anyone has ideas, please let us know.

We are proud of the aircraft we have and appreciate that we have members helping us keep them clean and in good shape.

President’s Column, June 2020

Dear Members, welcome to the month of June!  We are now open again for flight operations, in a limited capacity.    We’re calling this a “soft opening” because we’ve just opened up the flight operations.  This means the aircraft, flight room and the washrooms.  Pilots are allowed to fly with members of their household or an instructor provided both pilot and instructor are wearing masks.  For more details, please refer to the information in the newsletter.  The bar is not currently open – we’re waiting for go-ahead from Provincial Authorities to do so.   Shout outs to the volunteers who have been making this happen.  You’re striking the balance between keeping us safe and getting us flying.   I am personally hoping that we can enter into Phase III opening protocols where we can start allowing members to congregate again.  You can do your part by staying safe and following the restrictions to keep that infection rate low!

Great news – IUK is back in service and with some nifty new instruments – two Garmin G5s and an ADSB in/Out transponder for flights into the USA. Many thanks to Brian Appaswamy, Zoltan Kondakor and Luciano Nisi who have made this possible by setting up training and information on the website.AFC President Seal

In other good news, and in anticipation of better times for the future, I’ve set up a date for our Fall Pig Roast.  In fact, we’ve renamed it the “AFC Member Appreciation” Pig Roast.  The date is set for September 5th, Labour Day, and if you’d like to volunteer, let me know.  We can start planning in earnest as the Provincial Health Authority eases restrictions.

Zoom has established itself as a regular part of our lives nowadays.  I’d like to express a great deal of thanks to our Secretary, Augie Rinz, who has been holding things together and managing the details.   There’s a lot of work involved and he makes it seem easy – even under pressure he remains cool and polite.

On that note, this is a reminder that our General Meeting this Wednesday the 10th – attendance is not mandatory, but it should be a bit of fun so please consider zooming in.  Last week I made a presentation to the members of R.A.A. Chapter 85 on the story of the AFC Glastar purchase on Zoom.  It was very well received and they are willing to reciprocate when we get set up for presentations again.  They can tell us about their Cruzer or any number of interesting things, I think.

I don’t know about you, but a meeting with a presentation and club business seems like it could be a long affair and more than you may care to commit to.  I’d propose having a separate Zoom meeting just for presentations and another at our regularly scheduled timeslot for club business.  I would like your thoughts on this since it’s your meeting too!

Time remains, as ever, a precious commodity, so I thank you for taking some of yours to read this newsletter.

George Aung Thin,

President, Abbotsford Flying Club

PS: As you may or may not know, Millie and Steve are documenting our History at the Abbotsford Flying Club for the purpose of writing a book – which is as yet untitled.   They have asked past Presidents for their stories and I have been jotting down some thoughts.  I am sure that our stories will have depth, in terms of how far back our history goes – for this we rely on our venerated long-term members.  But I’d also like our stories to have breadth, by which I mean that I’d like to hear a wide cross section of stories no matter how new they are – this is where newer members can add their stories to the history of the AFC.  You’re a part of it now, after all and I think your voices are just as relevant too.  Therefore I invite any of you who have stories of the club, of Airshow, volunteering or even flight experiences to send your tale to Millie or Steve.  Do  you have a story from volunteering at the Airshow in the Campground, setting up fences, getting a ride as a result of the GA display or cooking at the Broken Prop?  Did you fly the aircraft or marshal people at our First Flights for Kids?  Did something particularly funny happen around the campfire during Wings and Wheels?  Do you have a fond memory of our AFC Member Appreciation pig-roast BBQ?  Was there a particularly interesting occurrence at the TGIF – like the Robbie Burns celebration?  Twenty years from now you may look back at it as a fond memory of your own past.

An AFC Christmas Story

I remember when I first joined the Abbotsford Flying Club in 2011.  In those early days, Randy Kelley, Steve Stewart and others were leading the club, impressing me with their gravitas and the depth of their history at the Club.  They were the titans of the day, regaling us with tales of past flying shows and engaging in jocular jests about Fleet Canucks with other members.  I had just finished my interview with Bob Bryan, a welcoming soul who I later found out had been a President of the Flying Club before.  Our interview went long, but I was having a good time and I was honoured to have introduced him to Chai Tea latte – we’re still good friends to this day.  Stephen Head was my “sponsor” back in those days – I was thankful for his kindness and his gentle ways.  He introduced me to a few members and shared some stories as well.

Back in those days, I had only just gotten my pilot’s licence.  My two children were five and three.  At the earliest stages of parenthood, we measure things with how much (or little) sleep we get.  The age of five and three had me sleeping fairly well, with only a few interruptions to the night’s sleep two or three times a week.  Now, of course, my kids are 11 and 13 and they’ve recently learned how to successfully diagnose and fix their bicycles.   Back then, however, I was required to be the weekend entertainment guide if I was to give my wife any kind of appreciable break from the pressing duties of motherhood.

Anyway, Christmas time was rapidly approaching and on weekends I was forever struggling to find things to do with the kids.  We dressed them up as “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” and quicker than you could say, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” we were out the door!  I had heard that there was going to be an appearance at the Club from Santa himself.  There, I thought to myself, I could find some entertainment for the kids and a bit of piloty-type conversation with some fellow club members.  I hadn’t read the details, though – and in such an omission I had erred.  The instructions told parents to bring along a wrapped gift that Santa could give to their child as an early Christmas present.

Oblivious, I walked into the club, sans-gift and let the kids loose to play with all the other kids there.  They had a great time and wouldn’t have noticed if they didn’t get a gift.  When Santa arrived in the sidecar of a motorcycle, my children were awestruck.  They were so happy just to see the Jolly Old Elf that they could have been happy with that.  Unbeknownst to me a friendly bunch of “Christmas Elves” from the club had quickly done rounds of the club, gathered up some odds and ends and assembled a very nice little package of gifts that Santa could give the kids.  What class!  What grace!  I thought to myself, “this is indeed a welcoming place”.

Gradual re-opening of the AFC Clubhouse and resumption of Flight Ops

Great news! The Board has decided to open the club to restricted flight operations effective immediately.  At this time, only the flight operations room, washrooms and aircraft hangar will be open for use by approved club members. The reminder of the club will remain closed.

You must do the following before you will be allowed to book and fly club aircraft:
  1. Watch the AFC Aircraft COVID-19 Sanitization Procedures.
  2. Read the AFC Aircraft Operations COVID-19 Procedures.
  3. Read the AFC Aircraft COVID-19 Sanitization Checklist.
  4. Read and sign the the AFC COVID-19 Waiver.
  5. Send a photo (or scan) of the signed AFC COVID-19 Waiver to  Photos can be done with your mobile phone.
Once the above steps have been done and the signed waiver has been received, you will receive confirmation allowing you to book and fly club aircraft once again.

These restrictions are for the safety and protection of you, your family and other club members.  The Board will consider opening up the club as the COVID-19 situation evolves and upon further direction by the health authorities.

If you have any questions relating to the procedures, video or flight currency, please contact

The Board appreciates your patience and understanding during these trying times. We all miss flying and socializing and look forward to when things are back to normal.

IUK is back in service

We have exciting news! IUK is back in service. Brian Appaswamy ferried it back Friday afternoon and you may now make bookings.
It is recommended you refer to the Garmin G5 Electronic Flight Instrument Pilot’s Guide if you did not attend Zoltan’s familiarization session last night.

The GTN750 GPS database has been updated this weekend as well.
Note that IUK has a new transponder that is now compliant with USA FAA NextGen regulations referring to ADSB and flight in controlled airspace. The transponder still functions as you normally would use it in most circumstances and flights but with new ADSB capability, we can now fly in controlled airspace (Class B/C) in the USA. More info on this and other ADSB capability to come.
YXX Fuel – As most of you may know the fuel pumps at YXX are no longer in service. We have few options to get fuel.
1) Shell Fuel Truck – 604-854-7964 – You have to pay with your own credit card and submit your receipts to Janet (Accountant) for reimbursement.
2) YCW Fuel pumps – We have a card in the binder
3) Fuel at your destination – Pay with your own card.
Under no circumstances are you to take off with less than 1 hour reserve fuel + estimated time to destination. Do not change how you will fly the club aircraft because we no longer have fuel pumps available.
It is not expected that you fly to YCW fuel up then proceed on with your trip. If you are in the area, have time and want to add fuel at YCW then great, please do that if needed.
Sanitization of Aircraft – We would like to clarify that you only need to sanitize the aircraft BEFORE you fly. You are not expected to sanitize after your flight, and it will use our cleaning supplies faster than expected.
Cleaning Bugs
Cleaning bugs off the windshield and leading edges is of course standard practice and should be done after every flight.
If there is no PRIST window cleaner, simply use the same light soapy water solution that we use on the leading edges. Make sure you do not use the same clothes on the windshield that have been used on the aircraft fuselage. Please keep them separate during your post flight cleaning. Each bin is clearly marked and has it’s own cleaning clothes.

The Cairn and the Time Capsule

The Cairn and the Time Capsule

A practical approach to physical history by Steve Stewart and Lorenzo Simeon

The story that has come down to us from 1970 was summarised in our(with Millie Watson) recent book:

The presence of Prime Minister Trudeau and six members of his cabinet in 1969 was already adequate indication that the federal government recognised the importance of Abbotsford to Canada’s aviation and aerospace aspirations. In his opening speech, he had explicitly described the show as being Canada’s showcase to the aviation world. The phrase was repeated in a letter received from Don Jamieson in December. He went on to say ‘I would therefore suggest that you name your air show next year as ‘Canada’s 1970 National Air Show’’.  With this endorsement, the show officially became the country’s national air show.  Minister Jamieson said ‘I would endorse this exhibition as being an excellent occasion for any Canadian or foreign company to display its aviation products and services’. To mark the development, Glenn Matthews designed a new airshow insignia, a limited edition airshow coin was minted (original price $2), and a souvenir postcard produced (10c). As well, at Don Jamieson’s suggestion, a project was started to erect a stone cairn.   Rocks were flown in from every Canadian province and  ‘every quarter of the globe, including the USSR’, pieces of the old London Bridge and rocks from the Matterhorn. A copper time capsule buried in the cairn contained messages from Prime Minister Trudeau, opposition leader Robert Stanfield, other Ministers, and President Richard Nixon. Dedication would be at 1pm on August 7th, the first day of show, by Jamieson and Fraser Valley East MP Jerry Pringle. The cairn and time capsule were scheduled to be opened after 50 years, on August 7th 2020.

The cairn was originally located just outside the airside entrance to the customs office of the terminal, which in 1970 was located in Hangar Number Two. Since then, over the past 50 years, as terminals have been built, moved, redeveloped and relocated, the cairn has been moved at least three times, and it no longer stands on its original base. The language used to describe the time capsule’s location was not precise. Was it in the cairn itself, or buried beneath it? Had they parted company at some point? Back in February, we invited Justin Trudeau to officially open the cairn and the time capsule – which seemed fitting, given his father’s role in their creation. He has not replied yet. However, we needed to be certain that we can open the time capsule on cue on August 7th.

In December we removed the plaque from the front of the cairn, removed cement and concrete from behind it, and failed to find the time capsule. The plan was to come back in March, but that was foiled by external forces. Lorenzo Simeon and I returned to continue removing concrete in early May.  We removed rocks from the back, and drilled and jack-hammered from front and back. But our holes joined up, after finding only concrete and steel in between.

The situation was not promising, and August is fast approaching. We arranged to use ground penetrating radar. We contacted a local stone mason in case he could provide insight. We asked Chilliwack airport about how their cairn was constructed. We asked Langley concrete about the pre-cast concrete core, around which the rocks are built. We contacted the Freemasons about the marks associated with the rock from the Old London Bridge.  We asked the national archives in Ottawa to look for records, because the airport was a federal facility and the cairn was built on the instructions of the Minister. And Millie Watson stepped up her campaign to contact AFC Members from long ago. We were prepared to hollow out the entire monument one chip at a time, while leaving its façade intact.  And we were prepared to excavate at the cairn’s previous locations.

But before launching the wholesale jack-hammering campaign, we tried some logic. During the 1970 ceremony, one convenient way to have placed the time capsule (other than directly behind the plaque) would have been to almost complete the cairn, then pop in the time capsule, and finish it off with a concrete cap. So we drilled and jack hammered up under the cap, but we got right past the centre without finding anything.  Bear in mind that we only knew the capsule was made of copper, without knowing its size or shape. There was not much remaining unexplored volume. Our last logical option was to pop off the whole cap and hope for something to emerge.  It did. The cap came off with a copper cylinder still embedded in the cement. It is 10 inches long and 3 inches diameter. The damage from our drilling revealed printed papers inside, but the papers are undamaged.  Who knows what those papers will reveal?

Before August we will reassemble the cairn, with the time capsule inside, so that it can be easily cracked open on the given day.

Later, the time capsule will be replaced in the rebuilt cairn, along with a new time capsule from 2020.  They will not be opened until August 7th 2070.

After the opening, we will publish a fuller story of the cairn, along with the contents of the time capsule. And there will be pictures.

Avionics upgrades for IUK nearing completion

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the AFC embarked on an upgrade programme for IUK’s primary instruments as the heading indicator has been unservicable for quite a while and there was discussion with replacing or upgrading the unit to further support our IFR members. The discussion at the time was to replace the unit with a similar or repaired unit at quite some expense, upgrade it to an HSI to futher increase the usability or even upgrade it to a modern digital instrument. Many vacuum driven directional gyros can last as little as around 1000 hours of operation.

To that end, an investigation was undertaken by the aircraft maintenance committee under Brian Appaswamy with research from Zoltan Kondakor to consider the replacement or upgrade of the heading indicator to an HSI and while this was undertaken, to perhaps also upgrade the Attitude Indicator with something modern such as another G5 or an Aspen, and to perhaps look at extending the digital flightdeck proposal to include the attitude indicator (still serviceable at this time).

For the IFR pilots of the club, these instruments would make a world of a difference in both increasing situational awareness and tremendously reducing workload by effectively reducing the scan from 8 instruments plus the GPS to 2 plus the GPS with the dual Garmin G5’s.

For those unfamiliar, the Garmin G5 is a small electronic display instrument designed to replace normal steam gauges. Many common uses of the G5 are getting two to replace both the Attitude indicator and the heading indicator. The attitude indicator also displays airspeed, altitude, groundspeed, heading, and a turn coordinator. The heading indicator replacement can be set up as a plain heading indicator or an HSI connected to the VOR receiver and to the GPS. The G5 is designed to fit into a standard panel 3.15” hole so no modification is required to the panel. Each unit comes with an emergency 4-hour backup battery insuring you don’t lose instruments in a case of electrical failure. As the G5 is a solid state instrument, there will be the savings of future maintenance costs vs the mechanical units.

Meanwhile, there has also been desire for some time to have at least one AFC aircraft with an ADSB transponder for flight into United States controlled Airspace when the US FAA NEXTGEN ADSB airspace mandate was coming into force. Avionics manufacturers have been offering trade-in programs that could be taken advantage of.

To that end, and considering the options, the AFC board decided after research that Katz Avionics out of Pitt Meadows are upgrading the panel in IUK to install the following instruments:

(To maintain backup instrument functionality, the vacuum driven Attitude Indicator is being relocated to the co-pilot side of the panel)

Zoltan Kondakor will be hosting a hangar talk in the upcoming weeks to demonstrate and teach how to use the G5’s effectively

Dual Garmin G5 Attitude Indicator and HSI

When configured as an attitude indicator, G5 uses solid-state AHRS reference to provide smooth, steady and reliable horizon-based pitch and roll indications. In addition to aircraft attitude, G5 will also support display of airspeed, altitude, vertical speed, slip/skid, turn rate, configurable V-speed references, barometric setting and selected altitude — as well as visual alerts upon arriving at a preselected altitude. A built-in GPS receiver provides highly accurate groundspeed and ground track readouts. Plus, a dedicated rotary knob on the unit allows for easy adjustments to altitude bugs and barometric pressure settings.

Garmin G5 HSI with Garmin GAD29B

To provide even more situational awareness, G5 is also approved for installation as a replacement heading indicator/directional gyro (HI or DG) or horizontal situation indicator (HSI) in your panel. When paired with an affordable GMU 11 magnetometer, GAD™ 29 navigation data interface and select VHF Nav/Comms or GPS navigators, G5 can serve as your primary reference source for magnetic heading, VOR/LOC guidance and/or GPS course guidance — as well as providing distance and groundspeed indications. The unit displays both vertical and lateral GPS/VOR/LOC course deviation when available. And you can use the G5 instrument’s rotary knob to easily make and adjust course selections — or to control heading bug settings in DG installations. For added system integration, a single magnetometer can supply heading information to 2 G5 units simultaneously. Additionally, G5 can provide heading output to select third-party autopilots (with GAD 29B).

The GAD 29B GPS/navigation data adapter, when installed with the GTN 750 or GTN 650 series or legacy GNS 530 or GNS 430 navigators, can enable such advanced features as GPS steering, WAAS LPV vertical approach guidance, HSI map navigation, coupled VNAV and more for access via your compatible flight display system.

Garmin GTX345R ADSB out/In Transponder

  • 1090 MHz ADS-B “Out” enables aircraft to operate at any altitude, in airspace around the globe
  • Combines Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponder and optional WAAS/GPS position source³ in a single unit
  • Provides access to dual-link ADS-B “In” traffic and subscription-free weather on compatible displays
  • Wirelessly stream weather, traffic, GPS position and backup attitude² via Connext® link to Garmin Pilot™ and ForeFlight Mobile apps as well as the aera® 795/796 Garmin portables
  • Compatible with a variety of Garmin cockpit displays — including G1000® and GTN™ 750/650 series — which offer transponder code entry and control

Garmin G5 Intro video:




Origins of the Abbotsford Flying Club and Airshow

Origins of the Abbotsford Flying Club and Airshow

By Steve Stewart

We start with the post-war situation of the Abbotsford Airport, its role through the 1950s, and its relationship to Vancouver Airport.

Vancouver Airport was created in 1931 as a civilian airport serving Vancouver and the surrounding region. It is on Sea Island, which is part of the City of Richmond, but was owned by the City of Vancouver. During the war the RCAF took over, and their presence continued through the following two decades or more. However, when peace returned in 1945, Vancouver Airport soon continued on its former trajectory of providing a focus for the growth of civilian air traffic on the west coast, and internationally.

In contrast, Abbotsford Airport was built specifically as a consequence of war. It started as an Elementary Flying School, and then became an Operational Training Unit. But within weeks of the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the entire operation was closed down, and almost everyone left. For some time it was used to store surplus aircraft. It remained a DND asset, and was part of various RCAF exercises for some years, including  a major combined army and air reserve exercise in July of 1951, regular use for Air Cadet summer exercises and gliding, and was part of the Civil Defence plans. As an emergency facility, in 1948, during the Fraser River flood, its barracks and grounds housed civilians and livestock displaced from Sumas and Matsqui Prairies. They were used again during flooding in February 1951. Just after the 1948 flood, an airshow was organized by the Abbotsford Lions Club and the Chilliwack Flying Club, with a large part of the profits dedicated for the relief of flood victims.

The barracks and other buildings were used again from 1956 to 1958 to house refugees from the Soviet response to the Hungarian uprising. Also in 1956, Lady Baden Powell attended a rally of 2,000 Girl Guides and Brownies. But usually the buildings remained empty, and there was a persistent trend to sell the ones that could be moved and repurposed. In 1960 a 30 by 68 foot building was moved some miles north up Mt Lehman road to become the Veterans’ Association building (where it still is), and the Guard House was moved to become the Matsqui Police Station and Courtroom. Classified ads in the local newspapers regularly offered buildings for sale, either complete or dismantled. Some buildings were used in place, with School District 34 arranging to use them for a 22 room school during the 1951-52 school year, on the understanding that the school would have to close if an immediate DND need emerged.

Although smaller parts of its physical infrastructure were gradually being eroded, the airport was still seen as a valuable resource by the Federal Government, by the local communities, by some civilian aviators, and by motor racing enthusiasts.

At that time instrument landing systems were not so capable of guiding airline flights into Vancouver during fog, and fog is much more common at Vancouver than at Abbotsford. Moreover, at that time there was a lot of industrial air pollution and smoke from beehive burners, that combined with the fog to make it more persistent, especially at lower altitudes. So Abbotsford became the regular diversion airport for Vancouver. A terminal facility with customs and arrivals lounge was set up in Hangar 2, and bus service provided for the trip to Vancouver. The terminal facility was in frequent, though irregular, use. Moreover, the runways were kept usable.  In one five-day period of November 1956 there were 150 diversions, and all the airlines made Abbotsford their base of operations. Sometimes important flights arrived intentionally. In 1953 Field Marshall Sir John Harding, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, toured Canada, visiting army bases throughout the country. He flew in to Abbotsford from Vancouver on his way to inspect the school of military engineering in Chilliwack, then returned to board his plane for Calgary. In July of 1958 Princess Margaret flew in, as part of her tour celebrating the centennial of the formation of British Columbia in 1858.  Civilian aviators visited from other established airports and marveled at the three long, wide runways.

It was actually the airport’s lack of busy flying activity that attracted the burgeoning sport of sky-diving, and during the late 1950s sky-diving was a common sight. The round parachutes used back then did not offer much directional control, and a large target area was desirable. In 1958, as part of the British Columbia Centenary celebrations, the North American Championships and trials for the world sky-diving championships were held at Abbotsford, and it was the location for some ‘firsts’. One was the first pass in North America of a one foot long yellow and green baton from one free-falling sky-diver to another, after jumping from 12,500 feet and while falling at 240 mph.

Starting in 1951 Abbotsford Airport became the major venue for motor racing in the region. Various circuits could be laid out, using the runways, taxiways and apron. Grass fires were not uncommon.  Barely a week went by without a sports car or motorcycle event. Sometimes even ladies got to drive, but with a head-start handicap – of course. And there was drag racing as well. From 1949, Annual Auto Shows were organized by the Lions Club in Hangar One. Racing continued right through to the very last race on March 30th 1958, the day before the airport was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Transport.

Way back in 1951, a visionary letter to the Editor of the Vancouver Sun, from F. S. Hayward in Abbotsford, described why Abbotsford Airport was so valuable. At the time its potential use in another war was still of great significance, but he also recognised it as the ideal location for an international civilian airport, citing its location on the US border which could allow joint customs; the significant absence of fog compared to Vancouver; and its solid gravel base and heavy-duty runways. ”All we need do now is build a four or six lane highway from Abbotsford to Vancouver city centre…”

But as time passed, the prospects of Abbotsford returning to full-time use, as an airport or RCAF base seemed to fade, despite rumours that the RCAF operations from Sea Island might end, and be transferred.

Vancouver was becoming ever busier. In early 1957 officials in Ottawa released a plan for Pitt Meadows to become Vancouver’s second airport, capable of handling aircraft up to the twin-engine DC-3, and with 4,000 foot grass runways. According to the plan, Abbotsford would be the third Vancouver Airport and have a runway extension to 7,000 feet.  Surveys started for the extension in May. The BC Aviation Council protested the choice of Pitt Meadows and called for Boundary Bay to be re-opened stating that it was half the distance from downtown Vancouver, had half the rainfall of Pitt Meadows, and already had hangars, runways and other facilities. Boundary Bay had not been maintained as an airfield since the end of the war, but the MoT showed some interest in the idea.  Then in October it was announced that “Abbotsford would be taken over by the Department of Transport as an alternate to Vancouver International Airport for both domestic and international flights next April”. However, there were no immediate plans for improving runways or passenger facilities.

In fact, as soon as the DoT took over in April 1958, they announced plans for a new terminal facility, including customs and air traffic control.  They also made space available in the old RCAF hangars for aircraft storage. Then, in May, as part of a federal government public works program, $750,000 was allocated for extension of the main runway to 7000 feet, together with re-surfacing.  This would make it capable of handling the biggest commercial aircraft of the time, such as the Bristol Britannia.

Tenders for the new passenger terminal (in Hangar Two) were invited in January 1959, with an estimated cost of $55,000. By the time the building permit was issued in April, the estimate had risen to $92,000

The airport facilities continued to be developed after its 1959 renovations – a control tower went into operation in 1960, and high-intensity runway and approach lighting was planned for 1961.

Aerovive, the first commercial aircraft repair and inspection facility was opened in 1959 by Bert Green, providing employment for up to 10 persons. Speaking to the local Rotary club in November, Green boosted the airport’s potential growth. In just seven weeks his company had nearly doubled the floor space it needed, and he described the presence of about 400 light aircraft in BC, most of which had previously been serviced in Vancouver, but were being squeezed out by crowded conditions. He described the potential at Abbotsford as at least the equal of Sea Island.

Vancouver continued to get busier, the terminal and facilities became more and more in need of updating or replacement, and the bridges to Sea Island were completely inadequate. There were plans to restrict flying by light-aircraft because of the dangers of them mixing with jet traffic. General aviation was being forced to move either to Langley or Abbotsford or Pitt Meadows, because Boundary Bay had been completely closed to aviation since the war. In January 1961 Grant McConachie, President of CPA, described Vancouver as “a shacktown in the international community of jet-age airports”. He predicted a shift of major airline traffic to Abbotsford, unless the Vancouver Airport was sold to Ottawa.  Vancouver ratepayers were about to vote on whether to sell their stake in the airport for $2.75 million or to raise at least $12 million to build a modern jet-age terminal. McConachie could foresee only losses if the City chose to build a new terminal itself.  The Mayor of Vancouver agreed and recommended the airport’s sale.

Fraser Valley MP Harold Hicks advocated the benefits of Abbotsford Airport unstintingly, both in his regular column in the local newspaper and in Parliament.  He considered it “time that traffic be directed to Abbotsford”. He could not see why the Dominion Government would want to buy from Vancouver when they already owned outright the airport in Abbotsford.  The fog issue was still prominent – 52 flights had been diverted in December 1960, nine of which were giant DC-8s. Hicks imagined the great things that could be done if that $2.75 million was directed to Abbotsford instead.  Bert Green, owner of Aerovive, suggested one idea – “The Air Show”. It would be a natural location, with no congestion of population, and would provide manufacturers an opportunity to display their equipment. “I’d be all for it” said Harold Luesley, the airport manager. Mr. Hicks suggested that a local service club might take up the challenge.

But, as things turned out, Vancouver voters did opt for the City to sell its stake in their airport. The DoT bought it in 1962 for $2.5 million, and then built a new terminal – completed in 1968 at a cost of $30 million, and the airport has continued to grow and develop ever since.

It would be another four decades almost, before regular airline traffic started to develop at Abbotsford.

From Aug 3rd to 22nd  of 1961 the RCAF Golden Hawks were based at Abbotsford. They practiced regularly for shows at English Bay, Kelowna, Victoria, Comox and the PNE. This was significant because it was the first time that an RCAF display team had been based at Abbotsford instead of at Sea island, and it must have made people think hard about having a show in Abbotsford.  The remarks by Hicks, Green and Luesley in January show there was clearly an appetite for an airshow in Abbotsford, and it may have been a common topic for speculation. But maybe more importantly, there was also an opportunity, because the Vancouver airshow was no longer viable. Although they are now generally forgotten, there were airshows as part of Air Force Day, based out of Sea Island every year right through the 1950s and early 1960s. In the 1950s there were a number of civilian shows as well, and they were hugely successful.

The Aero Club of BC planned a civilian airshow for June of 1950, in conjunction with Air Force Day, and it was to be the first civilian show at Vancouver for 13 years. However, it was cancelled because of difficulties with the old Marpole Bridge. The Air Force event went ahead anyway, and attracted 20,000 people. Later, when presented with a detailed traffic plan, the Airport Board relented, and a free admission, all-Canadian show was re-scheduled for September 3rd. It was a civilian show, but it included RCAF jets anyway, from 442 Reserve Squadron.

Air Force Day 1954 was in June, but flying was cancelled because of weather. For the civilian show in August, the RCAF planned a cavalcade of 15 jets (Sabres, CF-100s and T-33s) with one of the five CF-100s attempting to break the sound barrier for the first time on the west coast. A huge attendance created the biggest traffic jam yet on the Marpole bridge.

1958 was special because the airshow was a Centennial event – to celebrate the 1858 creation of British Columbia. Attendance was estimated at 100,000, with another 20,000 on the other side of the airport for the RCAF event. Undoubted star of the show was the Tupolev Tu-104  — simply because it was Russian, with real, live Russians aboard. The Russian pilot was given the chance to take the controls of the new Boeing 707, and he was tremendously impressed by its easy handling. Later the 707 pilot flew in the Tu-104, but was denied even the right seat, being told it needed two pilots at all times. He concluded that “ may be a good airplane, but for my money it’s obsolete’. The highlight of the RCAF event was a series of slow passes by an RAF Vulcan bomber.

The last civilian airshow at Vancouver was in 1959. It celebrated 50 years of aviation in Canada. Its cost was underwritten up to $5,000 each by the City of Vancouver and by industry, and the only revenue sources were a 50c/car parking fee and program sales, with attendance being free. Aircraft expected to attend included Russia’s new Tu-114; two RAF Handley Page Victors and a Mark 4 Comet; a Boeing 707; a Douglas DC-8; several USAF B-52s, F-104 Starfighters, F-101 Voodoos, F-102 Daggers and F-89 Scorpions; RCAF CF-100s, and the RCAF Golden Hawks Sabre-jet display team. A Bomarc missile, for static display, arrived in the belly of a USAF C-124 transport. Attendance was reported at 120,000 with another 300,000 crowding the shores of English Bay for the RCAF displays.   These numbers are probably not reliable (the population of the whole Province in 1959 was only 1.567 million people, and the idea that over a quarter of the entire population was there watching the show seems a bit stretched), but what is undeniable was the catastrophic effect on road traffic. Parking for 12,000 cars was provided, and buses ran from Oakridge Centre, but it was clear that this could not go on.

The RCAF continued its Sea Island Open Day displays for years, but there would never be another airshow at Vancouver Airport.  And that is why, in January 1961, Bert Green suggested “The Air Show” for Abbotsford, not just ‘an air show’.   Vancouver Airport was no longer available, but the public demand for an airshow continued. The opportunity for Abbotsford was obvious. Circumstances had created the conditions and opportunity, and all that remained was for a suitable organization to grasp that opportunity.

Abbotsford would have to wait until 1997 for the start of regular airline services (by Westjet), but in the meantime other activity increased slowly. To facilitate development, the DoT arranged for new ‘Abbotsford Airport Zoning Regulations’ to be approved under Order in Council and the Authority of the Aeronautics Act.

Aerovive had been the first commercial operation to start up at Abbotsford, and possibly their most remembered achievement was to completely rebuild what was one of only two remaining Supermarine Stranraer flying boats. It had arrived at Abbotsford by road, very early one morning under police escort, being towed on its own beaching gear. Rebuild took seven months and $40,000. Then on June 10th 1962 it flew again, for 40 minutes to the Fraser River at Sea Island. Take-off was from a specially constructed detachable 4-wheel dolly, from which it lifted off when flying speed was reached. The dolly continued along the runway. Pilot was Slim Knights. In late 1961 Aerovive bought Hangar Number Three from Crown Assets, but at least some of the Stranraer work had been done in Hangar One.  By 1964 Hangar Three was occupied by Sumas Air Services, (was that just a name change or an actual different company?)  In 1964 the building was sold to Skyway Air Services.

Skyway Air Services had already bought Hangar One in April 1961 for use as a base for timber and crop spraying operations. Skyway was based in Langley and was a leading developer and operator of aerial spraying and water bombing capabilities, and were mostly using Grumman Avengers at that time.

Another new company in 1960 was Abbotsford Air Services; started by Herb Porter, with one Cessna 150 airplane, to provide flight instruction and charters. His business grew quickly, and by 1961 had already occupied a succession of four locations in the terminal building (Hangar Two). He was ready to hire a Chief Instructor, and he found John Spronk in Penticton. (A year later he would be ready for a whole new building – which was ready shortly before the first airshow in August 1962.)

John Spronk had come to Canada from Holland after a successful career in the Dutch Air Force. He had trained on Tiger Moths and Harvards, before moving to Spitfires and then Gloster Meteors. He had reached the rank of Captain, and further advancement would mean desk-work and much less flying, if any. His air force superiors and colleagues, and his wife, all urged him to stay with the air force, but he had decided they would move to Canada, where he could convert his qualifications, and then continue a civilian flying career. John and his wife Patricia moved to Vancouver in 1958, and after obtaining the appropriate licences and ratings, moved first to Kelowna, where John worked for Cariboo Air Charter, and then Penticton, where he was CFI at the new flying school. He joined the flying club, and became a Director in March of 1961. Forty years later John described his first visit to Abbotsford, and the subsequent formation of the Abbotsford Flying Club:

My first landing at Abbotsford airport is etched in my memory – it was February 1961. My boss and I were returning to Penticton, (where I was CFI) after completing some Flying School business in Vancouver.

 The weather forecast was not good, and the Hope-Princeton highway route would be our only chance of making it through to Penticton. When we reached Hope the weather in my opinion was not suitable to continue. My boss, however, felt we should go on because it was his birthday and he wanted to get home! After some debate, I said: “The right side of the airplane is going back, I don’t know about your side.” I won the argument and we diverted to Abbotsford.

 I could not believe my eyes as we approached. THREE big runways and all kinds of hangars and even a Tower! We were the only aircraft to land that day! The Tower was operational because Abbotsford was the Alternate Airport for Vancouver! We couldn’t get over the fact, that nobody was using it. Howie Williams, the Tower’s only Air Traffic Controller cleared us to land. (Howie later became a friend and supporter of the Flying Club).

 In April of that year, Herb Porter flew in to Penticton and offered me the job of CFI for his brand new flying school at Abbotsford. He was looking for a suitable instructor and I had been recommended to him. I accepted that offer as my family wanted to return to the Lower Mainland anyway.

 The new company was called Abbotsford Air Services, and was located on the second floor of Hangar 2. It was the first civilian flying school at Abbotsford. I started with them in July ’61, and soon after that met the local pilots: Butch Merrick, John McGowan, Hank Hamm, Chuck Dennett, Monty Shore and others. Most of them were members of the Chilliwack Flying Club. This made me wonder why there was no club at Abbotsford.

 One thing led to another and we canvassed other interested people, with the idea of forming a local Flying Club. A meeting was called on the 14th of November 1961 in the terminal facility of Hangar 2. About two dozen attended. After some discussion the group was very much in favour, and the decision was made to go ahead! The name was going to be: The Abbotsford Flying Club! An election followed and Monty Shore became Secretary/Treasurer, John McGowan and Hank Hamm, were directors at large and I had the honour of becoming the first President. ……..   In a typical gesture, Butch Merrick stood up and immediately paid his dues, making him the first paid up member of the Club!   ….

 John was clearly struck by the lack of activity at Abbotsford, but he would not have been immediately aware that it was only three years since the DoT started to rent hangar space to individuals and for commercial activity. Some of the people he met, who had recently started to store their airplanes there, and would soon help form the Abbotsford Flying Club, were already members of the Chilliwack Flying Club, which was large and active and had existed since the 1930s.    Of the other Members of that first AFC Board: Monty Shore had spent the war serving on convoy duty with the RCN and had reached the rank of Lt. Commander. He continued for many years with the naval reserve. He was an Abbotsford Electrical Inspector and General Contractor.  John McGowan had served in the RCAF and had trained on Liberators at Abbotsford and Boundary Bay. By 1961 he was a very successful Motor Dealer in Abbotsford.  Hank Hamm operated the Esso Service Station in Abbotsford and was a keen sky-diver.

Abbotsford Air Services would have provided the first focus point for general aviation activity at Abbotsford. So it was really only around the time that Spronk arrived that the necessary elements and conditions for the formation of a flying club came together. As CFI at AAS, and with his background and contacts, he was one of those key elements. Once the ingredients did come together, it did not take long for that core group of pilots and student pilots to agree on forming a club.

John Spronk arrived at Abbotsford Air Services in July, and he was there during the extended visit by the Golden Hawks in August.  Seeing them practice day after day, and going off to perform shows elsewhere, would have undoubtedly made everyone at the airport think about the idea of having a show right here in Abbotsford.

The next step in this story is about the decision to start the airshow. The Rotary Club of Abbotsford was looking for a fund-raising project, and one of their members, John Beldam, who was also a member of the new Flying Club, suggested an air show. He probably voiced the same suggestion at both the AFC and the RCA.

W.J. (Bud) Lloyd, another Rotary member, had been interested in putting on an air show for some time.  He received encouragement from Frank Bernard, who had been involved in staging the shows at Vancouver, was on the board of the BC Aviation Council, and later maintained that the Abbotsford show basically was a continuation of the Vancouver shows. Bud and his son, Jerry, met with John Spronk, and agreed to pitch the idea for the show to the Rotary Executive meeting of March 15th 1962.

At the meeting, they talked about the RCAF Golden Hawks display team, which everyone had seen practicing at Abbotsford the previous summer; the Lockheed Neptune maritime patrol aircraft; the F101 Voodoo supersonic fighter-bomber, and the Grumman Albatross Search and Rescue flying boat. With a vote of 9 ‘for’, and 1 ‘against’, the decision was made to stage a show on August 11th and 12th 1962.