Author Archives: Secretary

Donation of Whiskey Glasses to the AFC

There has been a set of four etched whiskey glasses from Conair celebrating their 50th year of service donated to the Abbotsford Flying Club.

These were presented to Malcom White  from the Master of Honorable Company of Air Pilots who in turn presented them to the Abbotsford Flying Club through Alastair Beaton and Steve Stewart

Very nice!

First ever skydiving baton pass: Abbotsford 1958

Many members are aware of the Abbotsford baton pass which is commemorated above the membership picture case in the lounge, and was from one wing walker to another

Most probably don’t know that in 1958 Abbotsford was also the site for the first ever in North America baton pass from one free falling sky diver to another – see press clipping.

1958 was when the sky diving championships were held here.


Vancouver Province June 23, 1958

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,

Interview with the Membership Chair

Interview with the Membership Chair Amar Sundher

Amar Sundher

So tell me a bit about yourself:

I’ve been flying since I was 17 and got my PPL when I was 19. I have a little over 150 hours. GGMA is my favourite airplane – I trained on a 172 and 90% of my hours are on the type; high wing aircraft give you a cooler view in my opinion. I’m in my last year of business school at UFV. I have completed a minor in Aviation and a minor in Communications and I’m now working on my major in Business Administration. I am partner and head of sales at a cedar company here in the Fraser Valley. Other than that, I watch a lot of NFL football and I’m a big Patriots fan – if I’m not flying you can catch me enjoying the game with friends.

I understand that you overcame a few challenges when you started as a Director – please tell me about it:

When I first came on as Director there were some raw feelings in the membership committee and the club in general. The club had a rough year with members leaving. But I came in determined to put a fresh perspective on membership – set up a new positive vibe. Our focus was to create a positive environment. When George came on we ran meetings in a more enjoyable way – it wasn’t as taxing anymore. It took some work, and I have to thank my committee Mark, Bob, Dirk, Augie and Ruth; they worked hard and did a great job bringing membership levels up to normal again.

We’ve heard a lot good feedback from members, new and old, about the membership committee. What can you tell our readers about it?

The membership committee flew under the radar this year – we didn’t have a lot of meetings; just when we needed to do it. One thing that worked really well was that Mark Dirk and Aug set up an online membership application. Ninety percent of our new members signed up electronically. It’s the new way of doing things. It has more questions than our current paper application and it allows us to go more in depth during the interview process. The interviews are now a lot more informative because the in-depth questionnaire on the online application form helps us to get a better sense of the applicant. Cloud based technology allows committee members to access applications more easily and has made our meetings more efficient as a result.

In just one year you brought membership up from 89 to 119 members – how did you do it?

Basically, the club is a really great and awesome place. It’s very marketable. Potential members are buying into a cool club, beautiful aircraft and a support network to pursue flying. It can be easy to get members when we have the right people in place. I really have to thank the committee and the Board for their hard work and support.

Is it true we have more flying members now than ever before?

Yes, it’s true! Our new members not only want to enjoy the club and the community, they want to fly the planes. We need more members like that! Who want to volunteer, and want to do some flying; share their passion with friends, family and fellow club members… that’s what this club should be all about!

I know you’ve taken a lot of flak just for being young – yet you stay calm and cool through it all. What advice would you give for new members who face the same kind of thing?

I think there’s always going to be people who try to ruffle your feathers – that just comes with life. At the club, we’re doing a good job of changing culture. IF you ever think there’s something that isn’t right, I’m always available to talk. My position as membership chair I feel it’s my responsibility to protect our members, please come to me if you’re having a problem and together we can try to figure it out. Your words won’t fall on deaf ears.

Amar, there’s lots of buzz about the Instagram feed you’ve set up for the club – we even heard about it from the Airshow publicist. What kind of work does Instagram involve?

Instagram is a social media platform which focuses on photo and video– this is what makes it perfect for pilots and the flying club. Our pilots get to see some stunning visuals that translates well to the medium. In the future I’d like to help our members share their stories and experiences online. Our Instagram is growing; it has only been six months and I’m looking forward to watching it grow.

Your committee has commissioned and sold some very nice Abbotsford Flying Club pins. What can you tell me about them and where can I get one?

We did a very limited run of AFC wing pins just to test the waters. There’s a few left. Get them while you can. Pins are $10, hats are $15. People really seem to like them! Just e-mail me if you want one.


People have been pleased to note that you spend a lot of time volunteering for events at the clubhouse. Is there any event or memory in particular that really stands out for you?

This past year, the airshow was great. I got the opportunity to help in a few different areas (I got to know some of my fellow club members better, and met lots of interesting people) Campground – Ledell with parking; George asked me to bring in young guys; spent time with Jayden & got to know him; Got around and sold some hats and pins, I helped Steve with a couple of things. Steve also helped me with merchandising for the pins and we came up with a lot of great ideas for future. The Campground is an amazing opportunity for the club and were just scratching the surface on the things we could possibly. So many great ideas, but we can only do a few things at a time – with more volunteers I hope we can do more in the future.

If there’s one thing you’d like to do at the club next year what would it be?

I want to keep growing the membership. I want to keep up with improving the culture so that it’s fun for people. I want to bring in members – not just young ones, people of all ages – who want to fly and contribute to the club and have fun.

AFC Pig Roast and Luau 2019

The AFC pig roast was held Saturday September 21

Lorenzo and Murray hard at work

Chef Lorenzo started the charcoals at 10am. The porker was done to perfection by 5:30

Murray prepping more BBQ pork!

We had about 60 people in attendance and most were decked out in Hawaiian shirts and leis.

Needs some beer!

We charged a $10 per head fee to cover costs of the whole pig, briquettes,

Almost done!

Caesar salad,buns,baked beans and some decorations.

Expert carving at work

People were also asked to bring an appy or dish or dessert .

Luau lineup

They stepped up big time with an amazing assortment of Luau inspired dishes.

Luau lineup

Ken Campbell brought his blender and concocted delicious and healthy tropical fruit smoothies. (OK- they were pina-coladas )

Thank you to everyone who pitched in to make this a great event.: Cheryl, Jan,Jeanette, Leanne, Lorenzo and many more.

Cheers, Murray

To Own Up or Cover Up: Why We Should Share Our Mistakes!

“Knowledge is a commodity to be shared. For knowledge to pay dividends, it should not remain the monopoly of the selected few” ~ Moutasem Algharati

By: Ryan Van Haren

Tell me about the last time you had a perfect flight. Please, take your time, I’ll sit here and wait. Chances are you’ll have a tough time recalling one. Why? Because flying is the ultimate combination of art and science, neither of which can be perfected. Now ask yourself, how did great artists learn to be great, and how did the great scientists become great. The answer is that they studied and learned from those that came before them. They learned from their colleagues’ successes and failures.

How many of you have picked up the latest issue of FLYING Magazine and skipped right to the regular column called WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT FLYING FROM THAT? I don’t need to tell you because you already know that it is usually in the back quarter of the magazine and shares stories submitted by pilots recounting their most frightening and vulnerable moments in an airplane in hopes that others may also learn. This monthly column is basically the aviation equivalent of the centerfold spread whether you want to admit it or not. Now ask yourself two more questions. Why did you skip straight to the article where pilots tell all? and Would you have the courage to share your mistakes? Chances are you went straight for that article because it put you in the airplane experiencing what that pilot experienced, you were able to learn something about that pilot’s decision making process and you put the magazine down thinking, wow I’m never going to make that mistake!

As pilots we all strive to be safe, and to make good decisions. Good decisions are the result of experience and experience comes from having made mistakes or having learned from the mistakes of others. I recently read a book called The Pathless Way by Justin de Goutiere. This book was published in the 1960s and recounts the stories of a floatplane pilot working on the British Columbia coast. As I was reading in disbelief at some of the risks that were taken and tales that were told I took a moment and realized that at the time this book was published, “bush pilots” and “bush planes” had only really been a thing for twenty years. This pilot never had access to the resources that we enjoy today. No GPS, no Facebook Community to ask questions of or share experiences with, no Google, no satellite imagery or GFAs and certainly no safety management systems. He truly had to make his mistakes in order to learn and gain experience or glean what he could during limited face to face hangar flying with other pilots. I suppose that is what separates aviation pioneers from modern day pilots. Aviation pioneers had to learn the hard way while modern day pilots only have to learn the hard way if they are either unwilling to listen or unwilling to share their mistakes with others.

As pilots we all make mistakes. Let’s chalk it up to being more human than pilot. It is what we do with these mistakes that matter. In Commercial Aviation we have Safety Management Systems or SMS where pilots are required to self report safety concerns or errors be they minor or major. In Air Traffic Control the term used is Just Culture. It is a system where Air Traffic Controllers must self-report their errors. In both the SMS and Just Culture system reports are meant to be non-punitive unless gross negligence is involved. The idea being that by self-reporting, sharing mistakes and identifying the root cause others may learn and avoid making the same error.

The key here is to identify the cause and contributing factors of the mistake not to assign blame. When looking for a root cause one of the methods is the PETE model in which the following categories are examined:

E-xternal factors.

Why is it important to identify a cause rather than find a person to blame? If we want pilots to share their mistakes and lessons openly, the last thing we should be doing is starting a witch hunt or making them feel like they are being prosecuted for making a mistake. The very thing that differentiates a mistake from a malicious act is whether or not it was intentional. When a pilot or any human feels threatened or fears prosecution, they are more likely to cover up the mistake which can lead to much worse problems down the road, especially in aviation.

Case Study:
Tom arrives at the airport to take his flying club’s Cessna 152 out for a flight. His plan was to fly to a local airport for lunch. As he was pulling the aircraft out of the hangar his wife called. He finished pulling the aircraft out with the tow bar in one hand and his cell phone in the other. The conversation gets a bit heated and he paces around the aircraft a few times before getting in and starting the engine. The engine starts normally, all the gauges are green. He advances the throttle to begin taxiing and as the aircraft starts rolling, he hears a loud “PRANG!!” and sees the red handle of the aluminum towbar go airborne and land next to the hangars. Tom immediately shuts the aircraft down and inspects the propeller only to find that there is a small nick with a tiny fleck of red paint. What does Tom do?

The answer is quite simple right! Or is it?

It really depends on the culture at Tom’s flying club. If the culture is one that promotes learning and education and if Tom feels comfortable sharing his mistake, then he will report the prop-strike and educate his fellow club members about the dangers of using a cell phone while pre-flighting an aircraft. The other members might poke some good-natured fun at him, but everyone will have learned a valuable lesson. The odds of a repeat of this experience with anyone from the club is very low. Tom will report the damage, an AME will inspect it and chances are the aircraft will be returned to service.

If Tom’s club has a culture of finger pointing, finding people to blame, looking for reasons to suspend one’s flying privileges or just a general atmosphere of distrust and aversion to learning then there is a very good chance that Tom, fearing repercussions and ostracization will find a rag, buff out the fleck of red paint and say nothing to the club in order to save face and keep his pride intact. Tom will push the plane back into the hangar and for the next nine months other members will fly it with no knowledge of the prop strike. When the aircraft goes in for annual the AME will find a small crack that has grown since the incident which had it been dressed immediately would have been no problem. Upon learning of the crack at the club the members find themselves in a feeding frenzy of distrust pointing fingers at one another trying to find a person to blame while Tom’s conscience weighs heavily in the back row.

Whether new or experienced, pilots have the opportunity to continuously learn from others as well as educate their peers by sharing their experiences and listening without judgement to the experiences of others. I took off in my aircraft this past June without my cowl being done up. The right half of my cowl departed the aircraft and went through my flap. It ended in a prompt landing and a rather large bill from the structures shop. That said, I can tell you using the PETE model exactly how it happened. I shared it openly and am still reminded by others constantly as they make jokes and poke harmless fun. I am glad that they make jokes because every joke made is a reminder to everyone to not make the same mistake that I did. Even highly experienced airline and military pilots are not immune to the odd screw up. About 10 years ago, an Air Canada flight came very close to landing in Vernon thinking that they were on final to Kelowna. Several years later, a military C17 heavy transport landed at a small general aviation airport in Florida next to the actual Air Force Base that they were meant to land at only to have to unload to be light enough to get back out. Mistakes Happen!

We are a community, we are human, and we make mistakes. By keeping our mistakes to ourselves or persecuting others for theirs we do our entire community of aviators a disservice. I challenge each and every person that reads this to take an opportunity to share a mistake that they have made with someone. The more we normalize sharing of errors and mistakes the more we can learn from one another and hopefully reduce the repetition of unfortunate events in the future.

Speaking of learning from mistakes, using the binder containing your journey log and aircraft documents as a temporary chock behind the main wheel isn’t a great idea. Don’t ask how I know!

Article originally published on the BCGA website.

Steve Hinton and the 1979 Reno Air Races

Steve Hinton, well-known aviator in the warbird community, was the pilot of the de Havilland  Mosquito from the Flying Heritage Collection at Abbotsford Int’l. Airshow a few years ago.

As the race progresses in the video below, the Red Baron, piloted by young Steve Hinton, is not able to close on the P51 of eventual winner John Crocker. On the last lap the Red Baron pulls up after losing power and is forced to land off the runway. In a story worthy of Hollywood the crash destroys the Red Baron and nearly costs Steve Hinton his life. Steve recovers and goes on to become one of the most respected race pilots and restorers of WW2 aircraft. Thirty years after this event his son became the youngest pilot ever to win the Reno event.

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.


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,

RSVP to the AFC Annual General Meeting

We are preparing for the Annual General Meeting that will be taking place next month on Wednesday 9 October. Please note that this is the only meeting where it is members only; no guests please.
Dinner will be starting at 18:30 with the meeting itself beginning after that, somewhere around 19:30.
Bob Bryan once again will be catering our excellent (and I mean excellent) AGM dinner, but we need to know roughly how many people will attend so that we have enough food and not waste too much.
Please RSVP in the comments below so that Bob knows how many will be attending.

Safety Corner: September

Safety Corner

Warren Le Grice

Mid Air Collisions

A mid-air collision is probably a pilot’s worst nightmare, and is the main reason that air traffic
control exists. Mid-airs are the result of a loss of situational awareness on the part of one, or both of the pilots involved. These accidents are often preceded by either a breakdown in
communication or a total absence of it.

I will relate two of my own near-miss experiences, in this article, and discuss two fatal
accidents in which I knew the pilots involved.

Incident #1

The first close call that I experienced, was at Penticton in the spring of 1969. I was flying a Champion Tri-Traveller with my younger brother as my back seat passenger. We had just landed CF-XNE on runway 34. I needed to taxi back to the Penticton Flying Club hangar where the airplane was tied down, so we moved over to the left side of the runway and I did a 180 degree turn to taxi back towards the runway threshold.

Now in 1969 there was no such thing as a MF (Mandatory Frequency). That would come as a result of the PWA crash at Cranbrook  1989.  Pentiction  Aeradio, where I worked at the time,  provided an airport advisory service on 122.2 mhz. I had called in and announced my intentions and received the airport advisory, I did not hear any other aircraft on the frequency. We at the Aeradio Station, were well aware of a mid-air collision that had occurred in April of 1963, when eight people were killed in a mid-air between an  Aero Commander Twin, and a Cessna 140 over Skaha Lake, while both aircraft were on approach to runway 34.

As I taxied towards the threshold of runway 34, I noticed a Stinson Voyager about a mile final, and above him and slightly behind, was a Cherokee, which was owned by the same flying school as the airplane I was flying. I said to my brother “look at those guys on final”. As the Stinson was starting to round out for its landing, the Cherokee’s right gear leg contacted the Stinson’s starboard wing, and I noticed  bits of fabric being torn off  and the Stinson contacted the pavement quite firmly. The Stinson pilot was able to maintain control of his machine and continued to taxi straight ahead. The Cherokee pilot, who as it turned out, was a student pilot on his first solo, then turned  to the left and added power in order to do a go around. This action took him on a heading towards our airplane. I turned right towards the VASIS lights located on the grass, left of the runway, to avoid being hit.

The student pilot then banked right and climbed away and did another successful circuit and landed with a bent right undercarriage. The Stinson had major damage to the right wing and the pilot luckily was not injured.  It was a classic high-wing, low-wing situation, compounded by the fact that nether pilot was aware of the other aircraft, as there was no radio communication.  I believe the student pilot never came back for any more lessons, both aircraft would be written off in later years and the flying school crashed themselves out of business within two years.

Incident # 2

Approximately ten years later, I was now a Terminal Controller at the VR ACC. I was flying my Arrow CF-UKE, the aircraft I mentioned in a previous article. I was giving instrument dual to my friend Rick Quiring, who had been my OJI ( On Job Instructor) in Terminal. We had filed IFR and were going to Victoria to do and ILS on runway 26 ( the movement of the magnetic north pole, would necessitate renumbering the runway several years later), then a missed approach back to Vancouver, where we kept the machine. It was a summer evening and the weather at Victoria  was about 1800 feet broken and 20 miles visibility, very stable air and no precipitation.

We had flown the transition from the Victoria VOR over to the Victoria NDB which was at that time located on Sidney Island, about 4 miles on final for RWY 26. We received our approach clearance from Vancouver Terminal. Just prior to procedure turn, we were changed over to YJ tower, and on initial contact with the Tower there was no mention made of any other aircraft. As we were intercepting the localizer inbound, we broke out at the bottom of cloud base. The next thing I saw were three bright lights climbing up towards us.

I took the controls from Rick said “ I have control” and we did a right descending turn. Once we got sorted out again and back the ILS, I told the Tower we had just passed a jet going the opposite direction.  The tower had departed the aircraft on runway 08, unbelievable! The reply I got was “ Oh, he is VFR going for an approach”. I replied that the aircraft which turned out to be a British Midlands 737 couldn’t have been VFR as we were IMC during procedure turn. Very dangerous  behaviour on the part of the tower controller and of the pilot of the 737. You cannot make this kind of stuff up!

Had we not broken clear of cloud when we did, we would have collided for sure. Now days that type of incident would have resulted in a TSB investigation and action by Transport Canada.   There were three of us on board that evening, as we also had another VR Terminal controller with us, so had the 737 got us, it would have taken out about 15% of the VR Terminal staff in one fell swoop.

Incident # 3

The mid-air collision which occurred on November 20, 1999, in CYA125(T)  is well documented as report  # A99P0168 by the TSB. The mid-air involved a C152 operated by Pacific Flying Club and a privately owned Aircoupe owned and flown by one of  my two friends Alvin and Stan out of Langley. Alvin was an instructor at BCIT in Burnaby, and Stan was a retired CP Air engineer. The C152 had a young instructor on board and a 15 year student pilot who was working on his recreational license.

CYA125(T) was a Class F special use airspace, located over  Surrey, and the north portion of that airspace infringed on the localizer for runway 26 at Vancouver. It was capped at 2000 feet, which meant as terminal controllers we couldn’t come below 2500 feet with light and medium weight IFR aircraft, and 3000 feet for heavy jets. This certainly affected operations when Rwy 26 was active at Vancouver.  The airspace was a bit of a nuisance from an IFR perspective, and we used to comment on the number of aircraft, that we observed, jammed into that airspace on a good VFR day. It really was an accident waiting to happen.

I remember the day of the accident well. It occurred late in afternoon on a November weekend. It was the first day of reasonable weather, following a dismal week, of almost constant rain. The weather improvement created an opportunity for many pilots to finally go flying. Transport Canada was aware of the elevated risk,  that CYA125 posed to VFR aircraft. Numerous flying training aircraft, were squeezed into only really 1500 feet of vertical airspace. Following the accident, in which all four persons were killed, Transport Canada eliminated the special use airspace, and PFC installed flashing landing lights on all their aircraft.

Incident # 4

The last accident occurred over Nairn  Falls Provincial Park, four miles SW of the Pemberton Airport on June 29, 2013. The aircraft involved were a Stemme S10 motor glider and a C150. The motor glider was being flown by a friend of mine Rudy, who was my one of my instructors, when I was flying gliders at Pemberton, a number of years ago. Rudy was operating his motor glider operating scenic flights on the day of the accident. Rudy was an experienced glider and powered aircraft pilot, with over 3,000 hrs of flight time.

Weather permitting, the scenic flights involved taking passengers, one at a time, out west of the airport and over the Ipsoot Glacier, to an altitude of 8400 feet, a really spectacular flight.  The engine would be shut down at altitude and the propeller stowed and the aircraft would become a sailplane for the descent and landing.

Rudy’s business, Pemberton Soaring, was a real grass roots operation, he slowly built up his glider fleet from one Blanik L33 and a Bellanca Scout towplane, into several sailplanes. Over the few years, rental pilots and one of his own tow pilots wrote-off  most of his aircraft, to the point where he was only operating the Stemme motor glider.

A sailplane requires rising air, in order that the flight become anything other than a sled ride. In the Pemberton area, that would require flying relatively close to terrain, in search of rising boundary layer air. Rudy would likely have been using that method on his descent to the airport. As he rounded the mountain side above the Nairn Falls Park, he encountered opposite direction traffic.

The Cessna 150 which was on a VFR flight plan, from Lillooet to Nanaimo had on board a man, his wife and their dog. The pilot had a Private License and 127 hours of flight time. There is an ATF frequency at Pemberton on 123.2 mhz. Rudy had made a radio call inbound to the field, which was heard by witness, but the witness did not recall hearing the Cessna pilot make any transmissions.

The sailplane when viewed head on, would have presented a very small profile to the C150 pilot. The long nose of the sailplane, combined with the view from the semi reclining seats in the sailplane, would have made it difficult to see the Cessna below. Both pilots likely thought they had the sky to themselves. The collision resulted in both aircraft shedding a wing each  and the wreckage spiralling down amongst people  in the campsite below. None of the four people in the two aircraft, survived the accident.

Back at the airport, the other two members of the family of the young boy, who was the passenger in the motor glider, were waiting for their turn at a scenic flight.

Rudy left a wife and two teenage sons. There is plaque located in the picnic grounds on the Pemberton Airport, which was placed in honour of Rudy.

Mid-air collisions remain a very threat, however we can mitigate risk by a number of means.

  • Effective communication is essential, ensuring you are on the correct frequency, particularly at uncontrolled airports.
  • When flying cross country, get into the ATC system as soon as possible, you can do so by requesting flight following, and getting the benefit of radar traffic.
  • Keep your eyes outside as much as possible in VMC, and don’t get distracted by Ipads and such. Avoid non-essential conversations. Sterile cockpits exist for a reason.
  • Just because you don’t hear other traffic on the frequency and don’t see anyone, doesn’t mean you are all alone out there. Be aware of special use airspace.


Fly professionally and make good decisions.