Category Archives: Member News

Wings and Wheels 2019

Dear Wings and Wheels Volunteers,

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you – this year our Wings and Wheels event went off quite well!  Despite the rain and the fact that the “Fly-In” was more of a “Taxi-In” your high spirits, welcoming hearts and “can-do” attitudes turned it into a fun, cozy and smooth-running event!  We provided a safe and secure place for the wings and the wheels, a hearty breakfast for fifty three guests and some enchanting entertainment.

There are just too many people to mention – and I’m terrible at remembering, so please forgive any of my memory lapses.  Firstly, I’d like to express a special thank you to Ed Boon.  Despite wanting to hand off the Wings and Wheels event two years ago, he’s put in a great effort and made things work.  We had lots of great help from Ruth, Steve, Mark and Lorenzo on the preparation and setup in the weeks leading up to the event.  Holes were filled, fences erected, stages set up, critical equipment secured – not to mention the planning, marketing and other thinking that went into the endeavor.  On the day before Wings and Wheels there was a huge set up effort.  During the event itself, one of my secret activities (while the eggs are cooking away) is to step back and observe the hum of activity that goes on while we’re hosting an event.  It’s spectacular!  I saw Murray, Jan, Barb and Val buzzing away in the kitchen and the dining area.  Clark was handing out sausages with Val helping.  Murray presided over the settings, making sure that condiments, juices and syrup kept flowing.  Meanwhile, in the kitchens, Bob ran the cooking operation with an eagle eye and a ready laugh to keep people encouraged.  Bob Leroux and Adrian were everywhere, snapping photos and documenting the action!  The hardcore troopers, Aug and Kevin were out on the field directing the vehicles and aircraft into position – it was cold and wet work on this rainy May day!  Inside, Dirk and his wife Susan took money, sold tickets and kept a tally on incoming customers.  I heard many positive comments from the Mayor and his graceful wife, Velma about the caliber of our club – in particular it’s members; they said we represent the spirit of welcome and adventure that embodies the Abbotsford Community.

Pictures of the event can bee seen on the AFC Facebook page here.


Overall it was a great day – and it was thanks to the skill, dedication and hard work put on by our volunteers.  Thanks to you all!

Millie Watson Recognised by the Airshow Society

At the Members’ event on Saturday May 4th, Millie Watson was presented with a personalized Abbotsford International Airshow jacket.

Millie Watson wearing her new jacket and standing in front of B25 ‘Grumpy’ of the Historic Flight Foundation

After the 1963 show, ‘In keeping with its Constitution, the AFC gave a donation to the Mission City Cadet Squadron to assist in the building of a glider. The club also provided a scholarship to enable a member of the Abbotsford Air Rangers to take a Private Pilot’s Course. This scholarship was awarded to Miss Millie Watson of Mission City.’ ‘No one is more delighted than Mrs.H.Tarasenko captain of the Abbotsford Air Rangers. “It is a wonderful thing the Abbotsford Flying Club is doing” she told The News. “Not only is the club granting this flying scholarship but also instructing three other Abbotsford girls in the ground course. This should enable them to get their Leading Air Ranger badges”.’  Girls taking part in the ground school were Pat Warwick, Myrna Kvist and Valerie Carter.  Millie joined the Rangers in September 1963, and there were 10 girls in the group

When this picture was taken, Millie had logged five hours flying. She had started training on February 1st 1964

Millie completed the requirements for her licence in just 35 hours (which was the minimum required at that time), plus 20 hours of ground school.

Mildred Watson (second from right) took her Air Ranger friends Diane Cherry, Donna Taylor and Susan Small for a ride when she made her first passenger flight. Looking on is Tony Cosgrove, her instructor.

She then joined the AFC and has been a Member ever since, being made a Life Member in 2001?  As well as being an airshow volunteer, Millie also became the airshow’s very first employee. She had arranged to spend the summer of 1964 working at Eatons, but then the air show committee asked for her help and offered to match the pay she had expected from Eatons. Her main work was to book hotel rooms by phone, from one end of the valley to the other, and so far away as Victoria. She continues to volunteer with the airshow, and is currently the official Archivist for both the AFC and AIAS

Pool tournament winners

Robbie and Kevin Lacroix defeated team Chris Palmer and Murray Webb in the third and final game. It ended up in a nail biter when Murray sank the eight ball and the cue ball in the same shot.

The trophy was handed out by last year’s winners, Bevan Tomm and Richard Bauch.

Your winners! Robbie and Kevin!

The AFC ‘Flying Incentive”

by Steve Stewart and Millie Watson

While working on our Airshow History Project, we came across some information on how the club’s ‘Flying Incentive’ used to work. It was a scheme that encouraged members to fly by subsidizing the cost. The scheme started well before the club actually owned any aircraft, and it was fairly well defined, which meant that its cost to the club could be monitored. In 1967 each qualifying member was limited to 20 flying hours, and the incentive value ranged from $2.50 to $3.50 per hour. As the table shows, 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 for the incentive at the start of each year, and in order 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.

For 1968 the regular hourly rates at both schools appear to have increased significantly. For example the Skyway rate for a Cessna 150 went up to $12.00 from $10.00, and the AAS rate increased to $13.00 from $10.50. The club responded by increasing the value of the flying incentive to a flat rate of $6.00 per hour, which meant that the net cost to qualifying members for a Cessna 150 was just $6.00 from Skyway or $7.00 from AAS. These rates all sound incredibly low from our perspective of over 50 years later.

We can attempt to put the rates into the context of what people earned and what other things cost.

In BC the minimum wage in 1968 was just $1.25, whereas it is now $13.85.
A new 1967 Cessna 172 Skyhawk cost US$12,750. Now a new 172 is over $400k
The first Airshow full-time manager was hired in 1969 at a salary of $12,000
Statistics Canada indicates that $100 in 1968 would buy about the same as $700 will buy now.
In 2019 the AFC hourly rate for our Cessna 172 is $150 (and in this context we should note that this is significantly less than cost)

So overall, it appears that the cost of flying really has gone up much faster than other things. However, its true affordability would need a much more thorough analysis of how disposable income has changed.

We can also provide some context regarding how the finances of the club looked back then. 1967 was Canada’s centennial year, and the 1967 airshow was a step change from previous shows. In 1962 the AFC derived a net of $255.43 from the show. This rose to $900.00 in 1963 and continued to rise steadily each year. But in 1967 the net AFC income from the centennial show jumped to $6,103.35, which was equivalent to about half the price of a new Cessna Skyhawk. StatsCan would suggest a present equivalent income at over $40,000. In 1968 the club netted $4,500 from the regular airshow. After that, the airshow income to the club increased in steps that went to $7,000 in 1970, then $10,000 in 1975, $12,000 in 1980, and $17,000 in 1981. The peak number was $47,468 in 1989. From 1969 onwards the club had the entire responsibility for producing the airshow, so the money was well earned. The airshow income enabled the club to buy its first aircraft in January 1969 (a Cessna 150), and it also financed the flying incentive.

By 1972 the incentive value was being paid as a rebate to the member, who had to submit receipts. Its value was $5.00 per hour, for up to 15 hours, and it could be used for any aircraft rental, including club aircraft.

By 1974 the club owned two aircraft, and the rules for 1974 affirmed the need to be checked out on both types every year. Interestingly, there was some concern about lack of attendance at meetings, and the qualification for the flying incentive was only 50%. The January 1974 Newsletter provides some statistics for 1973.

Those of us that have been studying the club’s more recent flying hours will see some of the same patterns that still happen. In particular, 33 members flew club aircraft, half of the active pilots only made 10 flights or less, 5 pilots only flew twice, and 6 pilots only flew once.
Is any of this relevant to our present operations? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is interesting. Certainly it shows that some things change over time, but other things stay the same, and some things come back in cycles. The AFC is still an essential part of producing the airshow, even though our part is less than it was, and the income we derive from it is much less in real terms. Back then, the airshow was the main income source for the club, but now our hangar lease arrangements mean that they will probably remain our largest income source for the next 25 years.

We still subsidise the cost of flying club aircraft, but we have lost the ability to clearly track the per-hour value of that subsidy, and it is not specifically identified as being an incentive to fly. We do still fly our aircraft far less hours than we could, and flying them more would lower the per hour fixed costs. Sometime soon, after we have had some experience with the Glastar, it will be appropriate to once again look at aircraft costs, hourly rental rates, and levels of subsidy, and maybe we can once again achieve the clarity that was part of the club’s original approach.

Give Hope Wings

Hope Air helps to relieve the stress of travelling to healthcare so that patients can focus on what is truly important – their health.

Hope Air is a national charity that arranges free flights for Canadians in financial need who must travel to healthcare far from home. Since its establishment in 1986, Hope Air has arranged more than 130,000 free flights to healthcare. This has impacted countless Canadian families over the years.

For so many Canadians, the journey to better health doesn’t start at the door of the hospital.  Getting to an appointment can mean a drive of over 12 hours each way, a long and sometimes painful journey for someone who is seeking treatment for serious illness.  A flight to medical care reduces travel time so that Hope Air’s Clients can get to their appointments comfortably and get back home to their families faster.

“We’re not an airline, we’re a lifeline”

Give Hope Wings

In June / July 2019, Give Hope Wings takes to the air again with a three-week, 12,000 km flying expedition across British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska. The flight is comprised of three aircraft owned by Dave McElroy, Steve Drinkwater and Ian Porter. This is the second major Give Hope Wings expedition to raise awareness and funds for Hope Air, Canada’s iconic charity which provides free flights to Canadians in financial need who must get to health care far from home. But Give Hope Wings – The Northwest Expedition is much more than a fund-raiser: It’s an idea stemming from the passions of four pilots, these three men plus Lise Ash – all four of whom have passions for generosity, flying and camaraderie.

In early 2018, Dave and two other partners flew around South America as Give Hope Wings, raising over $500,000 for Hope Air. In September, soon after Dave had presented this remarkable story to a crowd at Abbotsford Airport, he was approached by Lise, a recently minted pilot. She asked if Give Hope Wings was considering another flight and pledged her support as a major sponsor if this were to come to pass. Bingo: Give Hope Wings – The Northwest Expedition was born. Since that time, Steve and Ian have joined the project with their aircraft, and this exciting expedition is now well along in its planning: logistics, operations, website, fund-raising, etc.

The crew are now also actively canvassing for Volunteer Flight Crew Members – generous Hope Air Donors who want to “pay it forward,” share this great adventure and experience the penultimate bucket-list adventure. This is a chance to explore huge parts of North America’s northwest corner from a comfortable, high-visibility seat which is only available in a light aircraft. What an experience!


Our very own member, Lise Ash is working very hard on this project and can use your support! Please visit her fundraising page at


AFC St. Patrick’s Day Limerick Contest

The AFC St. Patrick’s Day limerick contest was held at TGIF on March 15th
The winner of the original composition category was Murray Webb with this:-

“ An old aviator named Campbell
Spun out on a sidewalk and fell
He now wears a sling
On his busted left wing
And his flying has gone all to hell”

second place went to Chris Palmer with this:-

“ I once fell in love with a blonde
But found out that she wasn’t too fond
Of rough rides in my Yukon
Which she threatened to puke on
Demanding we land on a pond.”

The previously published category was won by Chris Palmer, who offered this:-

There was a young maid from Madras
Who had a magnificent ass-
Not rounded and pink
As you probably think,
It was grey, had long ears, and ate grass.

President’s Column

Hello, dear club members, and welcome to a new month!

After my wildly incorrect Spring-time musings about the pleasant weather of February I have decided to not make any predictions for March. Sorry about that.

Despite the snow, the cold, the wind and other wintery weather February did have some bright spots. A highlight for me was attending Warren’s recurrency training. It was very informative and left us all with lots to think about. I’ve jotted a few of my own observations,  below, and I welcome any other insights you may have.

March is shaping up to be a good month. Your Vice President has planned out a St. Patricks Day celebration and a Pool Tournament that will run as long as it needs to run, depending on how many people cue up. Warren will be doing his safety presentation this month since we cancelled the February meeting due to snow. And, with the promise of summer whispering on the wind, GSBS will be undergoing test flights later in the month. Ed Boon and his crew of volunteers have also started planning for the Wings and Wheels event, scheduled for May 25 th – we’ll be sending out a call for volunteers through the Secretary in the coming weeks. Also, the good folks at Prepair have reserved a few seats exclusively for AFC members! If you haven’t already registered, please look back in your e- mail for the Prepair message from Secretary Augie to get the link.

George’s Takeaway’s from Warren’s Training:
As a low time pilot, I’m always curious to know about the lessons that more experience pilots have learned over the course of their career. I’ve written some of the lessons I learned from Warren in bullets below, but I’d also like to hear from you! Feel free to send in your favourite lesson learned – or better yet, write an article for the newsletter to share with your fellow members.

  • Flying margins literally means you have left yourself no room for errors.
  • How many mistakes do you make before deciding not to fly?
  • Confirmation bias is when you choose to see what you believe rather than believe what you see.
  • Every problem is easier to solve on the ground.
  • You make better decisions when you are calm (as opposed to panicking)
  • Pride and fear can do harm – declare an emergency if you have to!

Best regards,

Airshow History Project

Airshow History Project
Some Members will be aware of the stone cairn outside the airport manager’s office at the terminal building. On it is a plaque which designates Abbotsford as Canada’s National Air Show. It was placed there in 1970 by Prime Minister P.E.Trudeau, and beneath the cairn there is a time capsule.
The time capsule is set to be opened after fifty years – which is next year, 2020. As yet we don’t know what sort of events will surround this, we don’t know what is in the time capsule, and we don’t know who will open it. Maybe it will be Justin Trudeau.
Thinking of this fiftieth anniversary of being Canada’s National Air Show made us realise the need for a concise history of the airshow since it began. And what better time than now to start the task. Our immediate plan is for a relatively compact book which lays out the timelines, developments and course of the main events, and which also highlights a selection of significant and memorable aspects of what the airshow has meant to those involved, whether as organisers, participants or spectators.
We have already started on the period 1962 to 1969, but our material is sparse. We need documentary material in particular – minutes and notes from meetings, organisational charts, memos, lists of performers and displays, timetables of events.  Some of this we already have, from the AIAS archives, but there are large gaps. There is very, very little material for the shows up to 1966 because the airshow society was only formed in order to make the 1967 show a Centennial event. So we need all the help we can get. Anything might help. We realise that some material is of value
as personal memorabilia – this can be copied and returned.
Any personal reminiscences will also be of interest.
At the moment our focus is on the 1960s. We will be asking for more recent material as we progress.
Please contact Millie Watson (Archivist for AFC and AIAS) or Steve Stewart (Chair of AIAS)

President’s Column – December 2018

Hello, fellow flying club members.  I’d like to start off my first newsletter posting by thanking you for electing me as your president.  I hope that I can serve you, our club members and live up to your expectations.

I would like to also thank the members of my board for their help and support in all matters.  I can assure you that they are all working hard to get oriented to their positions and get started.  We have some fun times ahead, and some hard work too.  There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone…if you want to go far, go together”.  I’m taking this to heart and working to bring you along with any changes we may be making.

For example, one thing we have changed is the agenda for our general meetings.  I’m calling it the ‘reverse-mullet’ approach – fun in the front and business in the back.  Our meetings now start off with an interesting guest speaker, some time to socialize over the break and our board reports at the end.  That way, our guests don’t have to sit through our business meeting and anyone who needs to leave early (say, for work) can do so without missing the speaker.

I’d also like to start a “Getting to Know You” column for the newsletter.  Each month, I’m going to chat with one of our members and write up our conversation.  We have a lot of amazing and interesting people at our club.  Our diversity is our strength, and it’s good to know our stories to continue to build the culture of our club.

I will close with thanks!  Thanks to our members, to our volunteers and our board.   I feel hopeful for our future as a club and I hope that in the coming term we can work together and go far!


Yours truly,