Category Archives: President’s Column

President’s Column July 2020

Dear Members, I hope that the month of July brings you fair winds, clear skies as well as health and sunshine! The last month has been a rainy and cloudy one, but July is coming in with the promise of some sunshine at last. I see that a lot of you have gotten out there to fly and I am glad for it. Some of our kind-hearted members have even gone so far as to clean up our aircraft and for that I thank you.AFC President Seal

I have to admit that I’ve been remiss at column writing this month. July brings many pleasant
distractions, including upcoming vacation time and sunny days. I much prefer to soak up the fusion based photons than absorb those that are emitted from diodes. (Translation: I’d rather sit in the sunshine than work away on my computer).

There are a few good reasons to write, however, and I encourage you all to put down a few words if you can. First off, Bob Leroux has started up a website where people can tell their flying stories. He has a section where you can write in about some of your favourite family flying. It’s a charming idea and I hope to see some of your contributions to his page. Our favourite family spot to fly is to the Qualicum airport because it allows us to visit with the grandparents. Secondly, Steve Stewart and Millie Watson are assembling a history of the club. To quote one of my favourite authors, Thomas King, “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are.” Write your stories down. Send them to Millie or send them to Steve. Your stories will become the history of the Abbotsford Flying Club.

I’m writing a letter to put into the time capsule. As you may or may not know, there is a time capsule in the base of the pedestal outside the airport building. It was put there 50 years ago by a previous Trudeau Prime Minister. And now, it will be opened again while his son is Prime Minister. It’s quite a coincidence when you think about it – almost like a note being passed from father to son. Right now I’m drafting up words that will be read fifty years from now. When the capsule is opened next, if I’m still on this side of the grass, I’ll be five years older than my father is now. My son will be sixty three and my daughter will be sixty one. That’s just simple math, the hard part is imagining what could happen in the future. When you look back at how things were in 1970 and how things have changed in the last fifty years, it’s simply amazing.

In 1970 humankind was still optimistic from having landed on the moon just the year before. They couldn’t have known of the growth in technology, the tragedic accidents that were to come or the inspiring reprise of the space program that we’re seeing now, but in the hands of private industry. Back then, computers were terribly impractical, but now we carry computers around with us – ostensibly calling them phones – and because of their processing speeds the computers of today are able to fly aircraft, land rockets on barges in the ocean, and predict stock market movements.

In 1970, general aviation was in it’s heyday! Could they have foreseen the spate of accidents leading to lawsuits that would crush the industry in the 80’s? Did they know that experimental aircraft builders who at the time were a rare breed of hardcore tinkerers – would launch a popular grassroots movement where eventually thousands of people were assembling kits manufactured in “kit plane” facilities?

Would Trudeau have known that his son would be Prime Minister when the capsule opened fifty years from the time he buried it? Would Richard Nixon have predicted that the Presidency would soon be the domain of movie actors, like Ronald Reagan or Reality TV stars like Donald Trump? It has been an amazing journey. The changes have been astounding and intriguing. I truly believe that some things will remain constant. Our passion for flight is one such constant; another is the inspiration we get from the aviators of the past who dared to dream.

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

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.

Sincerely,
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”.

President’s Column – May 2020

Dear Members, greetings and salutations!  I hope that this edition of the monthly newsletter finds you healthy, happy and safe.

Until the pandemic is over, I would like to start with thanks and praise for all those people out there who are putting their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe.  While I’m out there every night at 7PM, banging pots and pans to show my gratitude.  That and following the restrictions is how I feel I can contribute to our overall safety and wellbeing.  Dr. Bonnie Henry, our Provincial Health Officer, has announced that certain sectors of the economy will be starting to go back to work on a graduated schedule.  In the meantime, I urge members to exercise patience and take care.  Our club may be one of the last “sectors” to come back to full service – we are an organization set up to pursue recreational activity and we have a population that is at a higher risk.  If you’re careful today, you can always have tomorrow.

We’re going to hold a shortened version of a general meeting via the Zoom app – if you’d like a chance to catch up on how things are going and test out the technology it’s a good opportunity for you to try.  We’re still getting used to the technology itself, so I know you’ll be forgiving of any glitches that are encountered.

AFC President SealAlthough our doors are shuttered and the aircraft are grounded, our club is still in good shape.  I’ve had conversations with some members and for the most part they’re doing all right.  If anything, some are busier than ever: working, volunteering or just caring for others.  I’m happy to hear that our members are getting projects done around the house, helping out others, socializing as best they can and even starting little gardens.

At the time of this writing, the Abbotsford International Airshow has just announced that it has been cancelled for this year.  This is a sad blow for us, because I know how much you all love the experience of participating, volunteering and just rubbing shoulders with our pilot community from outside of Abbotsford.  The Airshow is also a major source of revenue.  Despite the lost opportunity our finances remain in good shape – many would heave a sigh and thank their luck. This “luck” was actually the work of past members, Boards, Presidents and volunteers – Visionaries, all – without whom we would certainly be in a worse state.  My thanks to Steve Stewart, Kevin Mickelby, and Tom Grozier in particular as well as many others in general: you have done the club a great service indeed by ensuring its sustainability!  I am honoured to know you and awed by your foresight and dedication.  Members, when these restrictions are lifted you may rest assured that you will return to find the clubhouse and it’s aircraft will still be there for you.

GIUK has had an avionics upgrade:  the dual Garmin G5 (configured as AI and HSI).  Now, IUK no longer depends on a vacuum pump for primary instruments – because now our primary avionics are all electronic!  Also, the transponder in IUK has been upgraded to ADSB in/out in order to satisfy the FAA requirement for flight in US controlled airspace as mandated by NextGen. Now we are able to fly IUK in the US without the transponder restriction. Many thanks to Brian Appaswamy, Duncan Poynton and Zoltan Kondakor for seeing this through.  You can expect to see a Flight Safety presentation on the G5 in the near future.  It’ll be a nice thing to review the manuals and bone up on how to use the G5 while we’re all stuck at home.

Another exciting item is that our Bylaw Review Committee lead by Tom Grozier. This committee is making progress.  Overcoming the social distancing requirements with technology, they are meeting and discussing how best to approach making changes to our bylaws and the particular improvements that are to eventually be put to the membership.  Details concerning their discussions and recommendations will be published in our next newsletter and in a member survey to be sent out in due course.  However, I will say that I particularly like their approach and to updating the bylaws.  In the past, we’ve started with the bylaws themselves and tried to make changes to the existing bylaws without first looking to update the language of our bylaws to reflect the current standards used by other not-for-profit organizations in BC.  I believe that this has always led to imperfect results because … for this we need the help of lawyers!  Tom Grozier and his team have recognized this and they will be seeking the advice and recommendations of a law firm.  It is the committee’s intentions to seek member input to the various bylaw changes being considered. Reporting to the members and the member survey will be based on simple, easy to understand terms in plain English.  Once we’ve received member input to proposed bylaw changes, we will then simply take them to a lawyer for translation into the language required to satisfy legal due diligence.  Thanks to Tom and his committee for establishing such a creative solution for what has been a difficult problem.

Members who have taken the time to read the recent Board minutes will have noted the resolution put forward by Tom Grozier and passed by the Board to temporarily upgrade the status of each Associate Member to that of a Sustaining Member. With the passing of this resolution this membership upgrade temporarily gives each Associate Member the right to vote on club business matters.  I really like this idea, because it means that every member gets to have a say. This motion was put forward by Tom based on the discussions within the Bylaw Review Committee.  They believe, and we agree that it’s in the interests of our club for all members to have the choice and the right to participate in the governance process of our club. One of the Bylaw amendments the Committee believes should ultimately be put to the membership is the merger of the separate Associate and Sustaining memberships into a single membership class. Assuming this Bylaw amendment is adopted, if you are a member of the AFC you will be a member for all purposes. It then becomes each member’s choice whether they wish to participate in the club’s governance process and/or (perhaps) run for election to our Board.  Putting it simply, a member is a member is a member – and any member can vote or run for election.  Equality for all!

Our Flight Safety team, led by Luciano Nisi and with a strong assist from Mark Thibault has already set up a few hangar talks.  Every one of these takes a lot of time and work in the background to ensure that they go smoothly.  Flight Safety is putting on an exciting presentation by an FIC from Kamloops during the regularly planned safety meeting slot this Wed May 6th at 1900 via zoom, this will be an excellent instructional session. We also have a few more topics including one which Luciano will present on in-air activation of ELT, and how effecitve the COPAS-SARSAT system is in locating us. Mark Thibault will be doing a presentation on the SPOT tracker at some point as well.  I’m looking forward to the next few talks.  Great work Flight Safety Team!

Dave McElroy and the Kelowna Flying Club have been putting on his regular Koffee Klatch sessions and sharing them with our club.  I have only been able to make one of them since they’re held during work hours, but I certainly appreciate that they’re sharing these sessions with our members too.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Taylor Belich, Zoltan Kondakor and Cole Forman!  Thanks you guys, for setting up those lights in the hangars.  You did a great job and we’re proud to count such resourceful young men in our membership.  I can now do my preflight in the hangar, without needing a flashlight, thanks to you.

Lastly, I’d like to announce that we’re going to start a lessons learned session – details to be decided – regarding the home-built experiment that was the Glastar GSBS.  It behooves us to examine the purchase, maintenance and sale of the aircraft so that we can capture what went well, what went poorly and what we should continue to do.  I am hoping to invite all who were involved to participate – so that we can get the fullest possible picture.  Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, as Churchill once said; we would be remiss indeed if we didn’t learn from our little experiment, which turned out to be so costly – in so many ways.

Time is a precious commodity, whether you’re measuring it in days, hours, jugs of milk or toilet paper.    Spend these moments with care, patience and mindfulness so that you weather this safely and join your friends at our wonderful flying club when we’re finally clear.

Take care, stay healthy and remember to be kind to yourself as well as others.

Sincerely,
George Aung Thin,

President, Abbotsford Flying Club

 

 

 

President’s Column – March 2020

Dear Members, I hope that this month’s edition of the Newsletter finds you all hale, healthy and well-provisioned.

I’d like to start this column by expressing my thanks to those who have been toiling so hard and putting their very lives on the line to quell the terrible COVID-19 Pandemic which has swept our lives into such disarray.  We must not forget that there are many people playing many roles – the doctors, nurses, medical technicians, scientists, researchers, first responders, firefighters, police, our leaders and local authorities all come to mind.  But we must also not forget the people who are keeping things running so that we can subsist – the cleaners, the grocery clerks, the cashiers, information technologists, bus drivers and truck drivers.  Without them, our lives would come to a grinding halt.  Obeying the COVID restrictions is the best way to thank those who are on the front line. AFC President Seal

Every year, in the rain and dark of winter, we hunker down and dream of fair skies and warm, gentle winds.  This is just another time when thinking of happier future days will serve us best.  Some members have been telling me what they’ve been doing in anticipation of flying-days returning.  Some have been browsing through aircraft sales sites such as Barnstormers.com or Controller.com.  Others have been reading about amateur built aircraft.  Some members have been updating their logbook to electronic format, which has led them to reminisce happily over past flights.  Others have set some goals for flying – whether it has been hours to fly, ratings to achieve or destinations they wish to reach.  I’d like for us to do more of this – we’re looking to set up some discussions and presentations via Zoom webinars.  If we can recall the pleasant memories of past flights and sketch plans for future aviation adventures then I think we’ll be able to make it through the challenges of the present.

Rest assured that your Board is working through these challenges to continue with club business.  Luciano and Mark Thibault have already set up Zoom sessions where we can have hangar talks.  I’m hoping to parlay the technology into some short presentations by members and guest speakers.  Although this month’s general meeting is cancelled, I will be setting up a meeting for the May meeting via the Zoom Web Conferencing app.  I’ve already attended a successful session of the Kelowna Flying Club’s “Coffee Klatch” put on by Dave McElroy; I think it could work for us too!  Our Secretary, Augie, will send out invitations once we’ve got it set up.

Take care and stay healthy!

Sincerely,
George Aung Thin,

President, Abbotsford Flying Club

President’s Column – March 2020

AFC President SealDear Members,

Welcome to the month of March! We’ve got a lot of things to look forward to and quite a few planning activities coming up.

We are beginning to plan for Wings and Wheels, and I’ve already been talking with the folks over at Airshow about what’s going to be going on this summer. It’s working up to be a big show. For those of you who volunteer, I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation. If you’re still on the fence about coming out to lend a hand, I heartily recommend it. Volunteering is the best way to ensure the ongoing health of the club, and it’s fun besides. If you’d like to help with the organization and management, I can tell you for sure that it’s a valuable experience. There’s no better way to gain experience in leadership, project management or event planning than volunteering for events like Wings and Wheels or Airshow. The experience and lessons you learn from doing volunteer work will provide you with skills, experience and abilities that are transferable – and quite valuable – in any other work context you may find yourself. Everyone needs organizers so it’s a really marketable skill.

Your Board has been working diligently on matters of managing our flying assets. I’ll have an update for you at our next meeting, so I hope that you can attend. I hope that I’ve been communicating changes enough and will continue to do so, in following with the principle of keeping you informed.

The weather hasn’t been great, but there have been a rare-few nice days in February. Usually I call February the “Spring Teaser”, but that simply hasn’t been the case this year. I’m hoping that the cool and wet weather from the winter will translate to a smoke-free Summer. We’ve added a new booking policy, which I hope will ensure that we strike a balance between committing to flights and making safety-based decisions. I’ll be going over our plan at the next general meeting – we’ve also outlined it in the Board meeting minutes.

Last of all, we’ve made some updates to the membership photo wall. Thanks so much to Amarvir, Bob Bryan and Mark Thibault for all their help with it. It’s about wrangling details, which can be a tough job but also builds some of those valuable skills. There are about 40 people who don’t have photos up – so that’s quite a number to catch up with. If you can’t connect with Amarvir to get a snap taken, please just go ahead and send him a “head and shoulders” shot, along with the date you joined. It’s simple enough to have a photo taken with your phone. We can easily put it into a frame and get it up on the member photo board. Here’s an example.

May light winds and fair skies be yours!

Sincerely,

George Aung Thin
President, Abbotsford Flying Club

President’s Column, January 2020

Hello, Dear Club Members and Readers, and welcome to a new year!  Welcome, in fact, to a new decade.  We find ourselves once again in January, the time of year when ascetism and mindfulness take over from the hot-buttered-rummy indulgences of December!  It is a time of thoughtfulness and contemplation, when we are wont to make resolutions for the year – and possibly the decade – to come.AFC President Seal

This is going to be another banner year for the Abbotsford Flying Club.  Among the usual things to look forward to this year, such as First Flights, Wings and Wheels and the Airshow, there are new things to look forward to.  Larry Runnals has committed to organizing members to put on a campground for Geocachers.  Our experiment with GSBS is continuing – I am personally looking greatly forward to qualifying on that aircraft and taking her for a whirl.  Our maintenance staff have recently found a few deficiencies with SBS, but have it well in hand to correct them so she’ll be up and running soon.  We also have a very talented and capable Board this year – working with them has been a pleasure so far and I expect will continue to yield positive results.  We’re looking at setting up a Strategic Asset Plan – the first step of which is to discuss what we value at the club.  I recognize that there can be disagreement at our club – but what better way to come together than having some discussions where we discover the things that we all hold dear?  Tom has written a magnificent article outlining how our constitution, bylaws, written practices and traditions fit together to govern our club.  I have found it enlightening and educational as I’m sure you will.  Also this year, the time capsule buried at the airport terminal will be dug up.  If you’re like me, you’re burning with curiosity as to what the contents of the capsule may be.

Every year the Chinese zodiac has an animal of the year, Pantone selects a “colour of the year”, and Oxford selects a word of the year.  I would like for the Abbotsford Flying Club to have a word for 2020 – convivial.  It is defined as friendly, lively and enjoyable.  Someone who is convivial is cheerful and friendly, easy to get along with.  The root of the word is, loosely translated, “easy and pleasurable to live with”.  It goes so much farther than mere, “tolerance” which may be survivable, but doesn’t necessarily lead to cooperation.  Convivial, to me, means that we look out for each other and take care of each other’s needs – in a friendly and encouraging manner.

Every day we make ourselves: while I was growing up this was a common thing that my Mom would say to me and my siblings.  She always said it in the New Year and at other random times.  It’s particularly alarming to hear that saying when you’re a teenager lounging around in your pajamas.. “am I making myself into a lazy slob or a decent human being? – Aaack!”   On the surface, she was saying that every day your actions define who you are.  But I’ve come to realize that what Mom meant was way deeper than that.   It’s a message of hope and renewal.   “Every day we make ourselves” isn’t just a tactic to guilt you off the couch and do something productive – it’s a message of hope because it means that as long as you have days you have ways to change yourself and make yourself into something new.  It’s the message of the New Year – you may not be happy with how things are today, but YOU can resolve to make changes for the better.  And you start today; Everyday.  For me, I’d like to make the club into a place where people enjoy convivial relationships, fly awesome aircraft, share fulfilling adventures and good decisions are made for the club well into the future.  What would you like to make the club?  Because … every day we make the club.

Happy New Year!

George

 

President’s column December 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, dear Abbotsford flying club members!  Well, this will be my last column of the decade, ha ha!  There are many things to look forward to this month, you can sign up for a pool tourney in the New Year, there are a myriad of Christmas parties and events, including our very own special Christmas edition of the TGIF and I’m personally looking forward very much to Lise Ash’s presentation on her Give Hope Wings flight.  Her Northern escapade embodies the spirit of adventure and exploration that are at the very core of aviation and kindles the heart of every pilot.AFC President Seal

As I look forward to 2020 I think to myself – it’s got to be a sign!  20/20 means perfect vision and I want this to be something we work on this year.  With Abbotsford airport developing quickly around us, it is important that we know who we are.  What is important to us?  What do we value?  Who do we want to be in the future?  These are things that we consider as a first step to develop our Strategic Plan.  We have set up the Board so that we can focus as a leadership team on working with all members to develop our plan.  Here are the basic, progressive steps for developing a comprehensive Asset Management Plan.

  1. Identify our Club Values
  2. Set up a Club Policy – you may know these as a Vision and a Mission – based on values
  3. Identify Club Assets – what are the things we use to derive value? For example, our aircraft, our building, our limited partnership.
  4. Evaluate each asset for value delivered – what do we get out of it and what does it cost?
  5. Align the value delivered with the policy – Is it delivering what we actually want to have at an acceptable cost?
  6. Set the strategy for each asset using the above
  7. Based on all of the above, a “strategic plan” can be created for all of our present and future assets.

There’s a lot to absorb, here, but we’ll go through what these activities are and what they mean at a future planning session.  At our January meeting I’d like to take some time to work with you to get an idea of our values.  We are setting up an online area for your input – we would like to hear from you.  What makes the club worthwhile for you?  How can we do more to get more of those valuable experiences, relationships or opportunities?

Above all, I hope that you have a good time this month – but also remember to stay safe.  Please remember to have alternate transportation or a designated driver if you are going to drink.  The slip and trip season is officially started so please walk carefully and wear footwear appropriate to the season.  And remember: if the weather is marginal, consider that you have the rest of your life to fly so you needn’t take an unnecessary risk today.

May you all enjoy a joyous and mirthful holiday and I hope to see you all soon!

Yours truly,
George

President’s Column – October 2019

AFC President Seal

George Aung-Thin

Here we are on what may be my last column. Thanks to you all for an excellent year and a lot of good memories.

I remember, as a boy, reading about the National Geographic Explorer’s club. It was loaded with brave, erudite members. They met and discussed their travels and adventures. The décor of the building was itself the product of many explorations, adventures and great experiences. I remember wanting to be a part of something like that. From then on, I sought to educate myself and find adventurous things to do. I have always loved flying, as I’m sure many of you also do. I went through years of flying kites, air cadets, gliders, hang gliders, kite boarding and finally powered flight. And now, although I’m not in the same club as Sir Edmund Hillary, I find myself in a place that is just as good – if not better!

Our flying club has adventurous members who fly great distances for charity, to explore places like the Caribbean and simply to stretch their skills and grow as aviators. And unlike the National Geographic Explorer’s club, we have members of all persuasions and types – regardless of their age, ethnicity, sex or social status.

I’m proud to be a part of the club and I am honoured to have served this last year as your President. I give my thanks to you all and hope that we move forward together in the spirit of adventure!

Yours truly,
George

AFC President Seal

President’s column, September 2019

September is here already – my kids are back in school and it feels like a new year is rolling out in front of us.  The same is true for our Flying Club.  We have a pig roast to look forward to later this month and next month is our Annual General meeting where we get to partake of a sumptuous feast.  Autumn is, indeed, a time of harvest and reflection.  What better place to reflect on the year than here, in this column?  But first, I must start with a message of thanks and appreciation to all the membership: I thank you for the trust that you have placed in me and I hope that I have lived up to your expectations.

Airshow

We had a very good turnout for Airshow this year: I’m proud of our volunteers and I’d like to say thanks to each of you for the time and effort that you have invested in our club and in making the Airshow work.  There are too many people to name here, but I’m hoping that some pictures get out showing the various activities that went on at Airshow.  I’d like to express a special thank-you to the Airshow captains!  Without your leadership, events like the General Aviation display, the fly-in camping, the Broken Prop and the Campground would not happen.  Thanks also to Ruth Wiebe: she did an excellent job marshalling the Captains.  Ruthie skillfully coordinated the efforts of each group and was an effective liaison with the Airshow.  We’ll be hearing their reports at our September general meeting.

During the Airshow I managed to take time away from my duties in the campground to circulate around the various events.  I was delighted to find members working, having fun and enjoying each other’s company.  I relished taking part or even just observing those little moments of camaraderie and shared goodwill – it’s the kind of thing that keeps our club vibrant and attractive.

Year in Review

It’s only appropriate to start a reflection of the year with a big “thank you” to those who served on the Board.  I am in awe of the talent, skill and energy of the people I’m serving alongside.  I am honoured that they are part of this journey and I am grateful for their service.  Special thanks to Augie Rinz – great job as Secretary, Aug! Without your organizational skills, experience, knowledge, thoughtfulness and tact, I’d be lost.

Our successes are largely due to the talent and perseverance of the people on our Board and other volunteers who have helped out.  It’s only proper that a reflection on our success should start with them.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Membership: our number of members is back in a healthier range where it should be. Amarvir Sundher – or as I know him, “the man with the plan” has done a great job in attracting new members and retaining our current members.  He built a strong membership committee and has been using social media effectively to raise the profile of our club.  Most tellingly, reasons for leaving the club have shifted from “I’m tired of Club ‘stuff’” (where stuff means “something which has first passed through the digestive tract of a bull”) – to more life-related reasons like having to move out of town.
  • Financial Health: The Abbotsford Flying Club is fiscally healthy again thanks to the skill and a massive effort from our Treasurer, Kevin Mickelby. We scraped pretty close to getting into the red this year because of the position the board inherited, but through careful management of our assets we stayed out of trouble.  Most importantly, the money that was re-directed last year from the aircraft engine reserve has been restored – our aircraft are secure once again.
  • The Stuff No One Notices … Until They Do: Brian Appaswamy and Warren LeGrice, along with Duncan Poynton, Andy Halychuk and Ton DuCroq have kept the aircraft and the building running smoothly – while making tough choices to help us from running out of funds. The clubhouse and the aircraft are fundamental parts of our club operations and without them, we wouldn’t have a club.  Thanks guys!
  • Aviation: the great experiment with GSBS has gotten off the ground. The team here was amazing – Tom Timm ran a committee to give us assurance on viability, Bevan put in tons of work hours getting the aircraft ready, Warren put on effective ground school training, Dustin made arrangements for people to “qualifly” and Bob Leroux found some critical items to ensure legality.  Thanks to you all.  Personally, I was delighted to get to know Ken McKeen over the course of the GSBS saga – in addition to providing his expertise and work hours, his calmly applied logic and thoughtful approach made sure that everything went smoothly.  Ken McKeen, I am honoured that you have joined our club and I look forward to getting to know you better!
  • Although the hangar corporation is a separate entity from the club I would like to acknowledge their team, which was led by Steve Stewart. There were many operational challenges which were well handled, such as windstorms etc.  But most of all, I am awed by the demonstration of skills you exercised to deliver the roof replacements and the paving.  These things wouldn’t have happened without the leadership, vision and perseverance of Steve and Kevin Mickelby who secured the funds, negotiated the project and oversaw its completion.
  • Club culture: we’ve had to recover from a couple of years where meetings consisted of what I call the “Cycle of Indignation”. A lot of our members avoided meetings for this reason alone.  This year, after changing the meeting format, we’ve managed to calm some of the strife of the past by focusing more on the presentations and saving club business for after.  I’d like to thank all our Board members for their efforts to model behaviours that allow for the club to be a place of welcome, fairness and fun.

On a personal note, I can tell you that the journey I’m taking as your President has been one of learning and growing.  I’d like to thank you all for your support, your ideas and your constructive feedback.  My focus this year has been to repair the damage that was done over the last couple of years – I can acknowledge that this hasn’t been a complete success; though we have certainly taken some steps in the right direction.  My overall approach is to focus on the positive and find lessons in the negative.  I believe that a club our size should be run using data based decisions rather than emotional reactions; this is why you see me presenting metrics on flying hours and membership, defining the scope for committees and clarifying roles and responsibilities.  I also believe in accountability which, in simple terms, is to treat people like adults.  For example, when it comes to remaining a member in good standing, each member has the obligation to pay their dues on time and attend two thirds of the general meetings.  Nothing short of paying on time will satisfy the former requirement, but an attestation from you that you have attended the required amount of meetings is sufficient to meet the latter.  Communication has certainly been an area of growth for me this year!  I have been working to run better meetings, say things in a way that gets the point across clearly without raising ire, and write coherent columns for the newsletter.  I thank you for your patience in this and welcome any help you may offer!

There is still good work left to do – Warren LeGrice’s has an excellent initiative for implementing a Safety Management System, I want to establish an Asset Management program to guide us in our decision making for our assets (aircraft, buildings and property) and I also want to “build our bench”.  It is my belief that mentoring and nurturing talents in people works better to build future leaders than harangues and disparagements.

Our election is coming in October, please remember: come to the AGM and vote!

Yours truly,
George

President’s Column: June 2019

I remember when I was sixteen my parents took us on a vacation to Cuba.
When we got there it was wonderful – sunshine, beaches, ocean, seafood, coconut-water and other delicious tropical fruits. My parents told me the rum was really good, but didn’t let me have any. Anyway, I remember saying to Dad, “wouldn’t it be great if we owned a place here?”. He looked at me and for a moment then asked, “What would that change?”. At times like this, when he was asking me to  think beyond my reckless teenage drives, he would take on the  aspect of a wise Buddhist monk. “Well, Dad, it would mean that we  could come here every year.”, I replied. “But surely, son, that is only a matter of committing to come back again”. He went on to point out that being in this wonderful place had nothing to do with owning it. He asked me if I was enjoying myself, and I had to admit that I was. At the time I gave it little thought, but when I look back I realize that he was teaching me about the importance of being present and enjoying the moment.

Reflecting on the flight I took with Kevin and some friends to Texada Island just the other day, Dad’s point really hits home for me. We had a spectacular flight, rode bikes on lonely roads, enjoyed a wonderful meal with good friends and adventured our way back home. To get there by car would have meant hours of driving, three ferries and the costs of accommodation. We truly have a wonderful proposition at our flying club. Seeing it through the eyes of our non-flying guests really drove it home.

We all talked about owning aircraft – and it is a viable option for some – but when I think about it, flying the club aircraft is perfect for me at my time of life. Our talented Treasurer has recently done some financial analysis regarding the cost of ownership. Aircraft ownership, before literally getting off the ground – is in the range of fifteen thousand dollars per year. That doesn’t include the cost of purchasing the aircraft or the ongoing costs of hourly flight. The Club proposition is even more attractive when you consider the fact that we have a diligent team of people looking after the maintenance, financing and care of the aircraft. I have often fantasized about owning or home-building, but the fact is, with two tween-aged kids and a busy career I’m lucky to get the lawn mowed and our oil changed in the family vehicle. Because of the excellent assets of the club, members are able to fly to exciting destinations with only the requirements of currency to be met.

Whether you choose to own an aircraft, fly the club planes or even a bit of both, the most important thing to remember is to get out there and fly for fun!