Category Archives: History

Canada’s National Airshow Cairn – Update

This afternoon Steve Stewart added a new plaque to the Canada’s National Airshow Cairn outside the airport terminal.

You can read the text in the attached pictures.

Originally we wanted this as another brass plaque, but the estimate was over $500. So what we have is plastic, and I think it looks pretty good, and visually it is a fair match for the original rectangular brass plaque. It is attached using construction adhesive and steel pins. Perhaps the colours will fade long before 2070, but if they do, it can be replaced.

Outline History of the AFC – 2009 to 2012

By Steve Stewart

Aircraft  

By the end of 2008 the engines in HXT and IUK were both approaching TBO. In 2009 all three aircraft were fitted with 406 MHz ELTs, and all three experienced radio problems at various times. There was a proposal to replace the carburetor in IUK in order to address the continuing problem with running very rich unless the mixture control was pulled back excessively. However, that idea was put on hold pending the approaching need for the engine overhaul. By November 2009 we had $44k in the engine fund. At the October AGM it was announced that our total hours for the previous 12 months on all three aircraft were only 344.9, which was the lowest hours since we first owned all three in 1989.  HXT had corrosion issues, IUK needed new paint, an interior refurb, an IFR upgrade and radios. The time was right to consider how many aircraft the club should operate going into the future, and exactly what they should be. We needed a strategic plan for aircraft.

Brief consideration was given to the idea of un-insuring an aircraft during the winter to save expense. But instead, we lowered the hourly rates to just $100, specifically to encourage members to fly despite the inconvenience caused by airspace changes and restrictions during the 2010 winter Olympics. The low rate continued to the end of March 2010, and it had the desired effect. The reduced rental rate would be repeated the next year – even without the Olympics.

A Future Aircraft Committee was formed under the able chairmanship of Jimmy Spentzas, and it met for the first time in May of 2010. It worked through the rest of 2010 and 2011, and set about its task in a very well-organized manner. Any member was welcome to contribute their opinion, and to suggest what type of aircraft they would like to see in the club. Everything was discussed objectively at the committee, and options were shortlisted with all their pros and cons. The options were put to members, who voted to indicate their preferences. The Board made decisions based on those preferences. It was a very inclusive process.

In the meantime, the aircraft continued to fly, and there were not many big maintenance issues. HXT suffered wingtip damage on a trip to Revelstoke, and IUK’s propellor was scratched in Whitehorse. HXT and IUK both had problems fouling plugs, and there was continued discussion about proper leaning procedures. There were 30 hours flown in March 2010, and 100 hours in July (when ZHQ and IUK both went to the Yukon). The total annual hours announced at the 2010 AGM was 415.5.  By May of 2011 HXT was within 80 hours of TBO and IUK within 90 hours.

The work of the Future Aircraft Committee came to fruition as a series of decisions. First was the decision to continue to operate three aircraft. This was an act of faith in response to the increased hours flown in 2010, and to the steady growth in the number of members who wished to fly. Then there were the decisions about what types of aircraft the three should be.  The first decision was easy, and was to keep ZHQ. It was operating well, had a low-time engine and no serious maintenance issues. It also had the STC covering its 180HP engine and long-range tanks, which gave it a useful load of 1080 pounds. A number of types were considered for aircraft number two. They included another 172, a Piper Archer, a Cirrus, a Maule and a Socata. In the meantime, pending the upcoming decisions, in January 2012 the maintenance on HXT and IUK was cut back to only scheduled maintenance, and any work required to maintain airworthiness.

In the end, a Piper Archer was selected as our number two aircraft. Stephen Head was now aircraft maintenance director, and he took on the task of reviewing the options of refurbishing IUK or of replacing it with an already refurbished airplane.  The recommendation was to refurbish IUK, and a total estimated cost of $81k was approved by the board in February 2012. This would cover the engine, a new carburetor, repainting, a new interior and instrumentation upgrades.

The Future Aircraft Committee was now ready to present the options for the number three aircraft. Everyone had agreed that it should be ‘an interesting two-seater’, and the options were a Diamond DA 20, a Pipistrel Virus, and an Aerotrek A240. Gerry Crapo suggested that we also include the option of keeping HXT, and in April, keeping HXT is exactly what the members chose.

The work on IUK started in March 2012, under the direction of Stephen Head, and managed by Maxcraft. In recognition that IUK was our primary aircraft for IFR flight, the budget was expanded in order to provide a Garmin GTN750, integrated radios, and a new panel layout. At the June GM, Bob Fatkin introduced everyone to the GTN750, what it can do, and how to use it. A ‘welcome back’ barbeque was held in July, with IUK parked behind the clubhouse as guest of honour. It looked amazing.  Over the next few months, members got used to flying IUK again, while the paint cured and various things continued to need adjustments. We also learned the bad news that the empty airplane had got 50 pounds heavier.

While IUK was undergoing its transformation, Stephen Head and his team were already studying what work would be required on HXT.  One question was whether to upgrade the engine to 180HP. This would mean that the usable load might be increased to match that of ZHQ. It already had long-range tanks. For this upgrade, corrosion repairs, new radios etc., and various other things, and considering our experience of the IUK project, the necessary budget was estimated at up to $115k. First, the aircraft funds needed to be replenished, and that would take time.

In September 2012, metal was found in the oil from ZHQ.  Repair was estimated at a minimum of $8k and this was an engine that had been overhauled three times already – quite recently. By this time, we had a total of $90k in the bank. The decision was made put the HXT project on hold, and to get a factory-rebuilt engine for ZHQ. The job was done without delay, and it cost $32,145.  HXT’s engine continued ‘on condition’, and the results of a corrosion inspection started to cause concern.

In calendar year 2012, the three aircraft had flown a total of 505.9 hours, despite IUK being unavailable for most of that time.

During this period there was a possibility that the club might also acquire ownership of, or access to an aerobatic airplane. Don Richardson gave a presentation on aerobatics at the April 2009 GM. In July 2009, Peter and Brandon Dryer presented on competition aerobatics, and another presentation was given by Peter Hertzig in April 2010.  In July 2010 the Aerobatic Club of BC was invited to one of our TGIF events, and they brought with them an Extra 300, in which Peter Dreyer flew a short routine to round off the evening.  There was a suggestion that the two clubs might merge, thus giving AFC members access to aerobatic possibilities, while Aerobatic Club members would gain access to the AFC aircraft. Joint discussions happened, but in May of 2011 the Aerobatic Club decided that they did not want to go ahead with the merger. Even so, Peter Dryer bought a Citabria himself, and offered to lease to the AFC, as well as making it available to members of the Aerobatic Club. But, in the end, this did not happen.

 

Buildings 

Since the Airport’s aggressive take-over of the Club’s buildings in June 2007, the operation of the hangars had changed completely. The club now rented the hangar building footprint from the airport and all the occupants were subtenants of the club. The hangar building and the clubhouse were both subject to 90-day cancellation clauses, and continued pressure from the airport reminded us of the need to look for alternative accommodations. In early 2009 the Bell Canada bond was sold, and that enabled the club to pay off all of the former hangar investors. The hangar building was now a source of steady income.

We formed a Buildings Committee and looked at the feasibility of a development at the north end of runway 01/19, which was the only area offered. New buildings would be prohibitively expensive, and it was impractical to move the existing buildings. In 2009 we did secure a two-year rental agreement, and the pressure to relocate was easing. The context was a rethink of the airport’s overall plan. They were considering spending around $30 million on an expansion of the apron, new taxiways, and an extension of runway 01/19.  In the meantime, the taxiways in the GA compound were starting to break up, and ‘our’ hangar had a leaking roof. The clubhouse roof also needed repair, again. But Harry Froese, who still operates three hangar buildings in the compound, had secured a ruling on appropriate rental rates, which had a great spin-off benefit for the club of reducing our rent by $2,500.  In July 2010 Chris Conrad identified an anomaly in our property tax billing whereby we were paying for water and sewage services at the hangar building which did not have those services. His efforts resulted in a three year refund for the overbilling. The rental agreement renewal now had a 180-day termination clause instead of 90 days, and we continued to look at what the clubhouse options were if that clause were activated. Gerry Visser offered the land behind Godspeed aviation for a double-wide building. Another possibility would have been to meet at the Air Cadets building.

By October 2010 the airport’s previous master plan was no more. They were now developing a 10-year capital developments plan. Steve Stewart and Tom Grozier met with airport management in October to discuss the future of the ex-Friesen hangars (the XF buildings). These two hangars had been built in about 1980, and when the airport took over buildings in 2007, their long-time owner, Jake Friesen, did not agree to rent them back. This left the airport with the task of dealing with every occupant individually as individual tenants.  In early 2011 the airport asked the club to take over the buildings. At the time, the Abbotsford Fire Department had inspected them and were insisting on a whole list of upgrades, which the airport did not want to undertake. If we did not take them on, their alternative plan involved a bulldozer, and this would have left over 40 tenants without hangars. The fire department’s main demand was to remove all the ad hoc internal walls and associated paraphernalia that had been developed over the years, and to add fire exits at the ends of the buildings. They refused to consider the main sliding doors as being exits in the context of a fire. A meeting was held at the clubhouse, with the airport, the fire department and most of the tenants to consider options. One idea was to add man-doors into the sliding doors. Eventually, some time later, they agreed that the sliding doors could simply be left partially open whenever people were in the hangar, and they agreed to let the existing internal walls and partitions stay, so long as no new ones were erected.  The club agreed to take on the buildings from January 1st 2012, and the airport agreed to do some necessary repairs and upgrades before then.  In 2012 the airport authority did a lot of crack sealing in the taxiways, installed additional drains, replaced the vehicle gate with an electrically operated gate, replaced the north fence, and added gravel parking groundside along the whole length of the north fence.  The fence was also moved a few feet away from the buildings for added security, and our 40-foot-wide Wings and Wheels gate was installed.

So, from January 2012 the club was renting three hangar buildings (including the XF buildings) with over 60 subtenants. The additional income from the XF buildings was expected to more than double the club’s hangar revenue. The XF building rents were kept the same as the airport had charged in 2011, and the AFC hangar rents continued unchanged from the levels that had been fixed in 2008.  Club members received a discount of $300 annually, and this now applied to the XF building subtenants. A number of  subtenants applied to join the club.

Under the expert guidance of Keith Sim, the clubhouse roof had been replaced in 2011, despite the uncertainty as to its future. A new furnace was installed, and insulation added above the meeting room. Keith also bought a whole new set of plastic folding tables from Costco to replace the old, heavy and splintered wooden tables, which were then sold off to all comers. In July the building was used a set in a Hallmark Christmas film, ‘Trading Christmas’, starring Gabrielle Miller of ‘Corner Gas’ fame. Our clubhouse played the part of a Washington bus station. Later in 2011, the old fireplace was replaced with the efficient unit which is still there now.  We had acquired a new pool table in 2009; in 2011 we got a large TV and high speed internet; and in 2012 Tom Grozier donated the piano.

By this time, the airport was indicating that the existing arrangements might continue for up to five years, which was a huge improvement from the 90-day termination clause they had imposed in 2007.

In 2012 the airport asked us to take on all the tie down spaces in the compound. At the time there were a total of 24, comprising 14 on grass plus the 10 to the west of the AFC hangar building. We had given up these 10 in 2007 because their rental would cost more than any potential income. The same logic still applied, and we did not take on the tie downs. We also refused the offer of the airshow’s ‘Hangar 13’ washrooms, which were located groundside of the north fence, and only used during the airshow. They were not an attractive prospect. Instead, a portable unit was placed just inside the vehicle gate.

 

Finances

By 2009, the Club’s response to the Airport’s take-over of the buildings had already transformed the hangar operation into a major contributor to the club’s finances. When the XF buildings were added to the operation in 2012, the net revenue flow into the club from the hangars more than doubled, and the hangars became, by far, the biggest revenue source for the club. This is what paid for refurbishing IUK and replacing ZHQ’s engine. And it set the club up for its future aircraft strategy.  The revenues from membership dues and the airshow campground continued at their established levels. The aircraft continued to be a significant cost item – even without considering the capital expenditures on IUK and ZHQ. The clubhouse continued as the biggest single focus of regular expense. By the end of this period, the club had emerged from the turmoil of potential insolvency and felt some relief from the immediate threat of being turned out of our buildings. The finances were well organized and relatively stable. In 2009, the financial year end was changed to July 31st, so that completed statements could be prepared well before the AGM in October.

 

Kids’ Flights

The club had not been involved with Young Eagles’ flights for some years, and they had actually ceased in Canada. But in 2009 the club decided to start up our own program of flights for kids. The plan was linked to the centenary of flight in Canada. To celebrate 100 years since that first flight, we would aim to give 100 kids their first flights. Our program was called ‘100 First Flights for Kids’, and plans were put in place for June, with all arrangements managed by Mark Thibault and Ron Becker. Partway through the process, COPA announced their own equivalent program, called ‘COPA for kids’. We talked to COPA about a joint event, but they insisted that only COPA members would be eligible to be involved, which would shut out any AFC members who were not COPA members. Even so, we explored all the possibilities for a joint event. There were suggestions that all AFC members ‘should’ be members of COPA. And there were generous offers to pay the COPA dues for any AFC members that needed help that way. A motion was created and it went to a dedicated EGM in May. That meeting decided that the AFC would not force its members to join COPA in order to be eligible to participate in the AFC kids’ flights.  The event went ahead without COPA involvement, and was a huge success.  The on-line registration had to be shut down well before the event, and there were well over 100 registrations. In the end, because of no-shows, we flew 106 kids.  Everyone was presented with their own certificate of achievement, signed by their pilot. The pilots had all contributed their time and the aircraft costs. Many other volunteers helped with administration, registration, ground school, food, and marshalling. Every kid was photographed by photographer extraordinaire, Jimmy Wong. The Air Cadets ushered kids safely across the tarmac to their waiting planes, and back after their flights.  Involvement with the kids’ flights has helped maintain our relationship with the Air Cadets. Since 2009 we have also provided an annual award for one cadet, to be presented at their annual parade in May.

 

Newsletter, Socials, Safety, Meetings

In October 2008 Ken Buchholz had agreed to take over the job of Newsletter Editor from Peter Graystone. One of his expectations was that I would write a regular President’s Column for every edition. I did this for the entire time I was President, and in general I tried to give the column some substance. My efforts were only one contribution to the Newsletter, and Ken did a great job soliciting other contributions.

Rick Duerksen started to write a regular ‘BS Guy’ column, where BS stood for Bar and Socials. Rick was very active at developing the TGIF from quite small beginnings into what it became. And there were never ending reasons to hold BBQs or other special events, such as to welcome back IUK; or to welcome the arrival of Keith and Susan Wood each year; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June 2012; the annual Airshow Volunteer party; a YXX tenant BBQ in June 2010; a welcome back from Whitehorse BBQ in July 2010; and many more. The 2012 Airshow Volunteer BBQ was memorable for its extreme weather – a sudden and very heavy storm burst that moved in from the south faster than I could taxi in ZHQ. Fortunately, I was on the ground, having decided to refuel before the next volunteer flight. Marty Lehner was in the air and managed to land in time. Bob Fatkin diverted to Boundary Bay.  All these events, and many more, were well reported in the Newsletter.

Another regular contributor was Bob Fatkin, writing on safety topics. Bob was also giving regular, short presentations on aircraft safety at every GM, and he created the currency quiz each year, as well as starting joint study sessions at the clubhouse on Saturday mornings for members to work through the quiz in a supportive, learning environment. Ken edited the newsletter until January 2012, and every issue was good. Then Dirk Sieber took over, and continued the same way.

In 2009 the General Meeting presenters included Glen Friesen from the TSB talking about the PA-34 crash in Richmond; new member Ed Boon on flying in his native New Zealand; and Washington resident Joe Moser on his experiences flying in WW2. In 2010, Adrian Renkers presented on the Reno Air Races; and Eric Scott told us about flying for Conair. 2011 included a number of updates on the airport developments and new procedures; a slide show by Randy Kelley about the Royal International Air Tattoo; and Greg Hattan on the Mission Aviation Fellowship. In 2012, we had a presentation on the TV program Arctic Air; and Kevin Robarts told us all about his operational experiences in Kandahar.

 

50th Anniversary

Of course, the biggest landmark event in this period was the club’s 50th anniversary celebration. The club had actually been created in November 1961, but we celebrated the anniversary in September 2011, and the weather was splendid. The whole event was masterminded by Randy Kelley, who had worked on arrangements for months, with the help of a capable team of other members. Great efforts were made to contact former members and invite them to attend. All the usual politicians and VIPs were there, and of course there were speeches – one of them unplanned and unrequested. MLA Mike DeJong had arranged for a Royal Proclamation, declaring September 24th 2011 as ‘Abbotsford Flying Club Day’ in the Province of British Columbia. There was food, drink, and cake. 175 people signed the attendance book, and there were many more who didn’t. Overall, it was a very successful day.

 

Fly-Outs

The club did some great flyouts and motorcycle rides. In 2009 Peter Graystone had participated in the Wings Over Canada Centennial flight, taking ZHQ cross country to do so. Then, in 2010 the same group organized a fly-in to Whitehorse. Gerry Crapo and I flew there in ZHQ; Adrian Renkers, Clark Closkey and Wayne Maure flew in IUK, Bob and Valerie LeRoux flew in Bob’s Turbo Arrow, and Peter Graystone flew his Challenger ultralight, followed by Jill as ground support driving their new Ford F150. Gerry and I went direct from Prince George to McKenzie and along the Rocky Mountain Trench to Watson Lake, then Whitehorse, completing the whole trip in a day. The IUK group did an overnight stop in Dawson Lake, then followed the Alaska Highway. While we were there, Peter Graystone and I flew ZHQ to Dawson City, with Jill and Pat Ulicki as passengers, and we stayed about 1 ½ hours. That same day Clark had gone fishing, caught trout, gone shopping, and then cooked in the kitchen of the suite that Gerry and I had rented. There was quite a big group for dinner, including Erissa Yong. This was when I officially dubbed Gerry as ‘Fly-outs Chair’. Another side trip was to drive Peter’s F150 to Atlin, where we tried to make contact with club Life Member Jim Logan, but he was off on a fishing trip.  And, of course, we also travelled to Skagway on the White Pass railway. That whole rail trip was through low cloud, and we arrived at the same time as two cruise ships, so the place was packed. We flew back from Whitehorse via Dease Lake, Smithers and Williams Lake. It was a memorable trip.

Gerry did an excellent job with fly outs. Alert Bay was a popular destination, with sizable groups going in both 2011 and 2012, and again in 2013. There were also organized fly-outs to Merritt, Kamloops, Kelowna, Princeton, Pemberton, Port Alberni, and Victoria. In 2010 there was a fly out to Boeing Field, which for some members was the culmination of all the excellent eAPIS training that Bob Fatkin had organized. The motorcycle group visited Merritt more than once, coming back the long way through Spences Bridge and Lytton, and there were trips to Kelowna, Mt Baker, and Harrison, and to Concrete for their hangar open day.

 

Wings and Wheels

The club’s original series of Wings and Wheels events had been discontinued because the airport replaced the compound fence, thus removing our ability to bring aircraft through onto the grass behind the clubhouse.  So, when in 2012, we decided that the club should have a fly-in event in May, that is what it was billed as – a fly-in. It wasn’t actually a wings and wheels event. The new aircraft gate was only installed later, it really has been a Wings and Wheels event only since then.

At that time there was still a large acreage of grass tie-down space in the GA compound, and this is where visiting aircraft parked. Their pilots and passengers then walked through to the clubhouse.  It had been nice to see so many old friends at the club’s 50th anniversary event in the previous September, and the aim of the event was simply to get pilots from elsewhere to start visiting our club again. There were no participation fees, and breakfast was free. Attendance was high. Breakfast was more than ample. Twenty aircraft flew in to visit. And everyone had a great time.

 

Membership

At the start of 2009 the club had only 88 members (including Associate Members and Life Members), but this grew steadily because of the benefits of membership, and in response to the easing of barriers to membership. The benefits included vibrant efforts regarding safety, fly-outs, social programs, general meeting speakers, and the positive future aircraft strategy. An initiation fee had been normal for the club since deep in the mists of time, but it had become a significant barrier to new members, because it was equal to a full year’s dues. Lowering it to $100 for 2009 was another way that the club celebrated 100 years of aviation in Canada. It was kept at this level for 2010 to celebrate 100 years of aviation in British Columbia. And it has stayed there ever since.  Having more members increased the hours flown on club aircraft, thus helping share the fixed costs, helping to keep the hourly rate low, and validating the decision to keep three aircraft in operation. By the end of 2012, membership had reached 106, and 44 members were flying club aircraft.

In the meantime, we had inevitably lost some old friends: Monty Shore, Ed Zaleski and Doris Matthews in 2009; Dr Steve Kulczycky and Bill Murray in 2010; Paul Peregrym and Dean Sorkin in 2011; and Boyd Chalmers, Jim Webb and Ed Heaps in 2012.   Steve Kulczycky and Jim Webb had each been made Life Members not long before they died.  At the end of 2012, long-time member Shirley Hubbard was made an Honorary Member.

 

Summary

In October of 2012, we revived the ‘President’s Awards’. They were presented to Brodie Templeton for his many years of work for the airshow; Ed Boon for his promotion of fly-ins to the airshow; Stephen Head for managing the refurbishment of IUK; and Mark Thibault and Ron Becker for developing the Kid’s First Flights.

During the course of these four years, the club had developed reliable revenue and solid financial systems. The club had saved the XF buildings from demolition and added them to the hangar operation. There were strong social programs and developing events, the newsletter was great, and a safety culture had emerged. The aircraft were being refurbished. Flying hours increased, and organized fly-outs thrived, and membership grew. In December, Rachel Stewart sang at the Christmas TGIF.

Thus ended 2012.

 

Outline History of the AFC – the latest instalment

By Steve Stewart

This instalment of the club’s history covers the period from mid-2004 to the end of 2008. The reason for starting in June 2004 is simply that it marks the start of our continuous electronic record of minutes from board meetings, general meetings and annual general meetings. The minutes and newsletters are all still available on the club website, which has developed a lot over the years, but which was originally created by Mark Thibault in 2004, and which he has maintained ever since. Mark provided a large pdf file of all those minutes from June 2004 through to December 2020. There are 2,721 pages in total, covering 16 ½ years. This instalment is for 4 ½ of those years. It is the first to deal with relatively recent events, which can be both a help and a hindrance to someone seeking to write a relatively short, yet complete and unbiased account. The amount of material available is vastly increased from previous instalments, and many of us remember details and nuances. What to include and what leave out, and how to avoid personal bias are questions that have no absolute answers. This is only an outline history; for detail you will have consult the sources directly. You might also choose to add you own account of certain episodes or issues. Pictures too, can be added later, by someone else. 

Two issues characterize this period. The first was the expulsion and eventual return of a member. The second was the club’s relationship with the airport over it master plan, lease rates, and take-over of the hangars. These two issues played out against a background of the regular activities of flyouts, socials, aircraft, committee work etc, and also with an underlying problem of month-to-month financial practice, without assurance of adequate income.

A member had been expelled from the club in 2003, over accusations of removing or consuming beer from the bar without paying for it. He denied this, and there was widespread discontent with the way the board expelled him without giving members any details of their reasons. Monty Shore led the group that considered his expulsion unconstitutional. There were many in camera discussions at the board and at the general meetings. He maintained that he had been targeted because of personality conflicts with Bob Robertson, who was President at the time of the expulsion. The debate was often heated. Throughout 2004 and into 2005, the board(s) would not relent, and his applications to rejoin were repeatedly rejected. Eventually, the board allowed the member back in, but they insisted that he pay the full initiation fee again, as though he was a first-time new member. Again, he objected.  President Bob Fatkin, who had not been around at the time of the expulsion, and was universally considered unbiased,  put in a lot of work behind the scenes, and finally, the member agreed to pay the full initiation fee, but under protest, and the whole affair was declared finished in mid-2006. It had raised a number of issues regarding the powers of the board, disciplinary procedures, the need for a code of conduct, and the need to review the bylaws.

Work on these issues had started long before the affair was over. Daffydd Hermann was tasked with drafting a disciplinary process in 2005, and Heather Hicks worked on creating a Code of Conduct through 2004.  Neither came to fruition, despite the sterling work contributed by Daffydd, Heather and others; falling victim to the immediate concerns of the ongoing situation. The bylaws were studied intensively by a series of Presidents and others, and in January 2008 Vice President Steve Stewart launched a full review as chair of a committee that welcomed participation from all members. After many constructive meetings, a completely revised set of bylaws was agreed by the committee and then went for legal review by Brian Loughlin. They were adopted unanimously at an extraordinary general meeting in January 2009, and then filed with Victoria.

Among other things, the new bylaws modified the membership grades. There were no changes for regular members and associate members.  The existing Honorary Life Members (except Prince Philip) were renamed as Life Members, in recognition that they had earned their status. A new grade of Honorary Member was created. This title had been used previously for airshow volunteers, and in a moment of inspiration during the 40th anniversary celebrations in 2001, President Steve Kulczycky had bestowed it on the Finance Minister Gary Collins. It appears that Collins had once applied to join the club, but was refused. At that time, he was a flight instructor. His new honorary title avoided embarrassment all around. It was an entirely honorary title without any rights. The bylaws enable the board to create Honorary Members for entirely ad hoc or pragmatic reasons, and for whatever term it decides. At this time Prince Philip’s status was changed from Honorary Life Member to Honorary Member for life. He had been unaware of his membership in the club, but happily accepted his new status.  

Although not part of the bylaws, a process was drafted by Bob Robertson and developed by the committee, for how to appoint Life Members in future. The intention was to avoid the type of embarrassment that had happened in 2007 when Tom Zurowski was nominated for HLM by Monty Shore from the floor at the February general meeting. Tom was present at the time. The motion was quite properly tabled, pending proper process.  Some time later, when there were two HLM vacancies, Larry Runnalls and Tom Zurowski were nominated, with the intention that members would vote on the motion at the AGM. Again, the motion was tabled.

In this period the club had lost four of its Honorary Life Members: Herb Hough in 2005; Frank Hubbard in 2006; and Bob Velvarsky and Franz Stigler in 2008. We also lost long-time member Hart Long in 2004, Past-President Sam Stephens in 2006, and long-time former member Wally Horne in 2008. All were from natural causes except the loss of Herb Hough. In August 2005 Herb and a passenger, in his Wagabond, went missing on a flight from Vavenby (north of Kamloops) to Abbotsford, without having filed a flight plan. The search covered a wide area and was finally called off in September without a result. Many members had been involved. Eventually, in early October the aircraft was found in the North Thompson River where it had crashed just after take off. Both Herb and his passenger had been killed.

Before that, another flying incident had happened in July 2005, but fortunately without a tragic ending. A member, flying ZHQ with passengers, had got stuck above cloud with fuel running low. He eventually found a gap and descended, but with his engine about to stop at any moment, he landed in a small field and finally stopped when he reached a wire fence. Deciding that any damage was superficial, He obtained fuel from somewhere, and after some further complications, flew back to CYXX. His decisions were called into question, and were the subject of a disciplinary enquiry. He paid for the damage that wasn’t covered by insurance, and undertook to no longer fly club aircraft. Because the engine and propellor had already stopped before reaching the fence, there was no need to tear down the engine. This had not been the case some months earlier, in May, when a member had landed on Pender Island and taxied through long grass – long enough to drag on the propellor and slow the engine. This was considered a prop strike by Lycoming, and the engine had to be torn down and the crankshaft inspected.  It seemed that ZHQ was forever undergoing expensive engine work. In 2008 it developed a crack in the crankcase, which put it off-line for quite some time.  And at the same time three cracked cylinders had to be replaced in HXT. 

Other, more predictable aircraft issues included the approaching need to rebuild IUK’s engine, the need for 406 MHz ELTs, a desire to install GPS in IUK, and the need to paint IUK.  As well, IUK had a fuel burn rate problem unless the mixture control was pulled most of the way back.  The problem was that at take off, landing, in climb, and at low altitudes, normal practice is to run full-rich, and at full-rich IUK was burning up to 14 gph.  Its fuel burn only came down to a reasonable level with significant use of the mixture control. This didn’t make it run lean. It just stopped it running excessively rich.  The problem was not solved until IUK was completely refurbished in 2012.

The club aircraft were the source of two other interrelated concerns.  One was their declining hours of use each year, and the other was the hourly rental rates. The cost of flying has always been high, and members were simply flying less than previously. But this meant the fixed costs were spread over less flying hours, and the result was a need to increase hourly rates. As the rates increased, the hours flown decreased further. The club needed more members, to increase the hours flown, and thus hold down the hourly rates. But not all members were happy with the prospect of increased member numbers, who would compete for aircraft bookings, and possibly join the club just because they wanted to fly!

The airport had been owned by the City of Abbotsford since 1997, and they were keen to create a master plan for how it should develop as a revenue source for the City. They had purchased it for just $10. Their plan had huge impact on the club and other tenants. It called for a new terminal building in the infield and re-designation of the appropriate land use in most parts of the airport. The whole GA compound, containing our hangar building, the two Jake Friessen buildings, and the three Harry Froese buildings, plus our clubhouse, were in the wrong place. That whole area was needed for some unspecified high-value development that would emerge in time. This made leases impossible to renew. The previous Transport Canada practice was to renew leases almost automatically, on 10 year terms, but now the airport was only granting extensions, one year at a time. The crunch came in 2007. Someone at the City had spotted an opportunity to terminate low paying leases and to turn them into a direct rental operation – they had realized that the existing leases included vesting clauses on expiry. This meant they could acquire buildings from former leaseholders at no cost; by not renewing leases they kept the land available for those imagined dream developments; and in the meantime they could make much more money from renting. When the club’s leases expired in May 2007, they simply took over ownership of the buildings, and then offered to rent them back to us at massively increased cost, on a month by month basis, and with the expectation that GA would have to move somewhere else at just 90 days notice.

This put the club in a horrible situation.  Finances were already weak and there was no ability to pay the rents demanded. There was no security of tenure, and the club was faced with the prospect of being moved out on very short notice. There was no money to undertake new development elsewhere on the airport. It also meant that the club needed to buy out the members who had invested in the hangars’ construction. Jonathon Dugdale and Steve Stewart met with the airport numerous times, seeking for a solution. The eventual agreement between the club and the airport saw a much lower $/sqft rental rate than had been asked for originally, and an absolute minimization of how many square feet were rented. For the hangar building — it meant we only rented the building itself, with the airport retaining all responsibility for the taxiways and tie-downs. For the clubhouse, we rented its actual footprint plus a one metre strip around the perimeter and from the front door to the road. Then there were the hangar investors to deal with. They had each put in $12,000 towards initial construction cost, and this gave them a hangar, which they ‘owned’.  Over time, if they moved away or no longer needed their hangar, the club found funds to acquire the hangar for the initial contribution plus a CPI adjustment. The club had quite recently paid out for three hangars in 2005 and one in 2006.  And there were still nine hangar investors remaining to be paid, for a total cost of around $135k. In principle there were funds to cover these costs, but they were tied up in two bonds; one with the Royal Bank for $48k would mature in 2008, and the other was a Bell Canada bond for about $140k maturing in 2010. The smaller bond would provide a welcome injection of cash but was not enough to pay off the investors. The Bell Canada bond had to be sold, but complications meant that this could not happen until July of 2009. Then the investors were paid off. Their patience had helped prevent insolvency.  The club had already changed their status from ‘owners’ to ‘renters’ effective from May 2007. Some were not happy with the new arrangement, but all eventually accepted the changes.  Tom Grozier had taken over as Treasurer by this time, and he put huge time and effort into the new arrangements, and managing cash flow.

All the hangar rents were increased in January 2008 to a level closer to market rates. However, club members received a discount. The 90 day cancellation clause remained, and efforts were made to find a way to relocate the hangars and clubhouse when necessary. In the meantime, although we no longer owned them, the hangars were now a dependable revenue stream, so long as the 90 day notice held off.

One effect of the uncertainty pre 2007 and the 90 day clause afterwards, was a reluctance to invest money into building repairs and maintenance. Even so, the Butch Merrick store room was completely renovated in 2005, the flight room was significantly improved, the clubhouse exterior was painted by Dean Lundstrom in 2007 and the clubhouse roof was redone in 2006. Paying for the roof required a special assessment of $30 per member. It is not clear why the storeroom had come to be considered the Butch Merrick room. In 1978, soon after he died, the meeting room had been named in his honour. Perhaps that had been forgotten in the intervening years, because, as well as putting Butch’s name on a new name plate on the storeroom door, it was decided to also name the meeting room for Gordon Cockereil, the flight room for John McGowan, and another room for Lloyd Weeks. Or maybe there is another explanation.

The club’s finances had been a concern for some time. Since the year-of-no-airshow (1998) the club’s revenue from the show was much reduced, and much less certain. It came from the campground, from film sales and from the Broken Prop. During the year, various other activities such as an annual auction and garage sale also brought in revenue, as did some social events such as Wings and Wheels. And, of course, there were the membership dues, initiation fees, bar income, aircraft rental income, and some income from hangars. Airshow film sales had previously been very profitable, with the club netting thousands of dollars from each airshow, but digital cameras killed that business. In 2004 film sales revenue to the club was only  $500 and they were discontinued from 2005. The Broken Prop was hugely popular, but it consumed vast amounts of volunteer effort. And it had come to depend on the able leadership of Kathryn Carpenter.  After she left the club there was change of direction for 2007. Volunteers who had previously worked at the Broken Prop were re-deployed to other airshow areas for which the club was responsible – fly-in aircraft, static display, and campground; and a contractor was brought in to run the Broken Prop. The service to campers and volunteers was preserved, but the income to the club all but disappeared. 

Before 1998, there had been three major income streams: aircraft rentals, membership dues, and airshow income. But aircraft rental income was lower than operating costs (as it always has been), and airshow income was now reduced and uncertain. The membership dues continued pay for the clubhouse and its associated expenses (as has been the case from 1968 to the present day). The other sources of income were not as reliable as the airshow income had been previously — even though they could generate significant revenue, such as the 2004 auction which raised $8,679.  Most other events only raised amounts of hundreds of dollars, and they might sometimes lose money.  The club needed more revenue: to make up the shortfall from aircraft operations, to pay increasing lease rates, and to periodically buy out hangar investors as their hangars became available.  The need for a strategic plan was clear, and the first plan had been put together in early 2004. It contained a wealth of good objectives, but it could not adequately address the financial issues, and it could not foresee the future actions of the City with regard to the club’s leases. There were periodic increases in both annual membership dues and aircraft hourly rates. Another strategic plan was developed in 2007, by which time the intentions of the City were clear. The new plan recognized the need to review the constitution and bylaws, the uncertainty regarding the hangars and the clubhouse, the need for more reliable revenue, and the need to review and improve all financial practices.  In 2008 the hangars had already started to contribute more significantly to club revenues, and Tom Grozier undertook a complete update of financial practices. He had inherited a system that relied on diligent application by the Treasurer and a group of other members, but which was no longer adequate. Annual reports and tax returns had not been filed, some members’ accounts had been in arrears for a long time, a number of accounts were disputed, and some accounts were obviously no longer collectable. He brought in a professional bookkeeper to keep track of everything, and for the first two years he paid her bills from his own pocket. 

During this period there were flyouts, socials, parties, Young Eagles flights, Wing and Wheels, and all the usual activities of the club. The auctions and garage sales had been a great source of revenue, but they did not continue after Carol Griffith stepped down from organizing them. By 2004 the club’s Young Eagles flights had flown over 500 kids, but 2005 was the final year of AFC participation. In September 2006 the club flew 24 boy scouts, and their leaders, instead. 

The major social event of 2006 was the 60th anniversary of John Spronk’s first solo flight. It had been in a Tiger Moth, and in recognition of this, the Museum of Flight in Langley flew him to the event in their Tiger Moth.  Franz Stigler’s 92nd birthday was celebrated in 2007; followed by Bill Gibson’s 80th birthday and Monty Shore’s 90th birthday in 2008. In 2005 the club hosted a very successful reunion for former members of 5OTU, who had been based at RCAF Abbotsford during the war. Also, there were corn-roasts and turkey dinners and a pork roast at the club. In the early part of this period Dean Lundstrom organized many popular dinners for members at various local restaurants, and in later years Rick Duerkson began to steadily build the TGIFs into a well attended, regular event. Many flyouts were planned, and many were cancelled for weather. But some major flyouts did happen, involving multiple planes and large groups of members, to places like Alert Bay, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Sproat Lake. Some members went as far as Oshkosh and Reno. Many went to Chilliwack for breakfast and pie.

Wings and Wheels started in 1998, as something to do instead of an airshow. It was very popular, attracting dozens of aircraft and scores of cars. It usually made money, if the weather complied, and the auction and garage sale could be held on the same day. It relied on bringing aircraft through the airside perimeter fence, and the club had modified the fence so that it could be laid flat on the ground, thus allowing aircraft to taxy over it.  But this left the fence ‘floppy’, because the posts were cut at ground level and only the tensioned wire held it up.  After taking over the hangar compound, the airport did some improvements to drainage, the gates, and the fence. They moved the north fence about 10 feet away from the ex-Friessen buildings as a security measure – and while doing so they restored its structural integrity, so that it could no longer lie flat. This ended Wings and Wheels, until, under new airport administration some years later, when they installed the present 40 foot wide gate. 

A whole list of other organisations continued to use the clubhouse. CASARA and the RAA had their own keys and held regular meetings, as did the Lions from 2008. The Abbotsford Police held ad hoc briefings there. Westjet, the police and others had Christmas parties. The Aerobatics club was welcomed each year at the time of their competitions. The Vintage Car Club held reunions. A new flight school, 3 Lines Aviation, ran a ground school in the meeting room in 2006, and its CFI, Justin Miller became a member. Many members also booked the clubhouse for their own private functions.

Throughout, the regular meetings (and some irregular) continued. In 2004 Ron Shore talked about his trip on Concorde. In 2005 Frank Hubbard gave a fascinating talk about his professional experiences  as an Aeronautical Engineer. In 2005 Keith Wade spoke about flying in Papua New Guinea. In 2005 Michael Desmazes talked about the wartime history of the airport. In 2006 Clark Closkey described events from his year in Australia. In 2008 Kaitlyn Herbst of Global TV told us about her experiences in the Global traffic helicopter. Also in 2008, we heard about the Mosquito restoration happening at YVR, Adrian Cooper visited to talk about the Reno air races, George Miller talked about his career, and Taylor Morrison told us about his trip to Oshkosh as a new pilot in ZHQ.

 

They were interesting times.

 

AFC Centennial Cairn hypostatis established

On Friday April 24 we completed the first part of the centennial monument project. Tom Grozier brought his mini-backhoe and loader to excavate the site, and to move gravel over from the hangar compound. Randy Engh happened by, after flying GMA, and did most of the manual work. Later, Lorenzo Simion inspected the work and declared it good.
Steve

The End of the DC3

DC3 in Canadian Armed Forces Livery

An older story but still an interesting read:

It was a rough and noisy plane by today’s standards, but at the time who would know the difference as that was the best they had. They sure stood up well. We members of the over-the-hill lot can still well remember when the gooney-bird was considered to be high tech…

Now the DC3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.

‘It groaned, it protested, it rattled, it ran hot, it ran cold, it ran rough, it staggered along on hot days and scared you half to death. Its wings flexed and twisted in a horrifying manner, it sank back to earth with a great sigh of relief. But it flew and it flew and it flew.’

This is the memorable description by Captain Len Morgan, a former pilot with Braniff Airways, of the unique challenge of flying a Douglas DC-3.

It’s carried more passengers than any plane in history, but – Now the DC-3 has been grounded by EU health and safety rules.

The DC-3 served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and was a favourite among pilots!

For more than 70 years, the aircraft known through a variety of nicknames — the Doug, the Dizzy, Old Methuselah, the Gooney Bird, the Grand Old Lady — but which to most of us is simply the Dakota — has been the workhorse of the skies.

With its distinctive nose-up profile when on the ground and extraordinary capabilities in the air, it transformed passenger travel and served in just about every military conflict from World War II onwards.

Now the Douglas DC-3 — the most successful plane ever made, which first took to the skies just over 30 years after the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight — is to carry passengers in Britain for the last time.

Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee, the last two passenger-carrying Dakotas in the UK, are being forced into retirement because of — yes, you’ve guessed it — health & safety rules.

Their owner, Coventry-based Air Atlantique, has reluctantly decided it would be too expensive to fit the required emergency- escape slides and weather-radar systems required by new European rules for their 65-year-old planes, which served with the RAF during the war.

Mike Collett, the company’s chairman, says: “We’re very saddened.” The end of the passenger-carrying British Dakotas is a sad chapter in the story of the most remarkable aircraft ever built, surpassing all others in the length of service, dependability, and achievement.

It has been a luxury airliner, transport plane, bomber, fighter, and flying hospital, and introduced millions of people to the concept of air travel.

It has flown more miles, broken more records, carried more passengers and cargo, accumulated more flying time, and performed more ‘impossible’ feats than any other plane in history, even in these days of super-jumbos that can circle the world non-stop.

Indeed, at one point, 90 percent of the world’s air traffic was operated by DC-3s. More than 10,500 DC-3s have been built since the prototype was rolled out to astonished onlookers at Douglas’s Santa Monica factory in 1935.

With its eagle beak, large square windows, and sleek metal fuselage, it was luxurious beyond belief, in contrast to the wood-and-canvas bone shakers of the day, where passengers had to huddle under blankets against the cold.

Even in the 1930s, the early Dakotas had many of the comforts we take for granted today, like on-board loos and a galley that could prepare hot food. Early menus included wild-rice pancakes with blueberry syrup, served on bone china with silver service.

For the first time, passengers were able to stand- up and walk- around while the plane was airborne.

But the design had one vital feature, ordered by pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was a director of TWA, which placed the first order for the plane. The DC-3 should always, Lindbergh directed, be able to fly on one- engine.

Pilots have always loved it, not just because of its rugged reliability but because, with no computers on board, it is the epitome of ‘flying by the seat- of- the- pants’. One aviator memorably described the Dakota as a ‘collection of parts flying in loose formation’, and most reckon they can land it pretty well on a postage stamp.

Captain Len Morgan says: ‘The Dakota could lift virtually any load strapped to its back and carry it anywhere and in any weather safely.’

It is the very human scale of the plane that has so endeared it to successive generations. With no pressurization in the cabin, it flies low and slow. And unlike modern jets, it’s still possible to see the world go by from the cabin of a Dakota. (The name, incidentally, is an acronym for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.)

As a former Pan Am stewardess puts it: “From the windows, you seldom look upon a flat, hazy, distant surface to the world. “Instead, you see the features of the earth — curves of mountains, colours of lakes, cars moving on roads, ocean waves crashing on shores, and cloud formations as a sea of popcorn and powder puffs.

But it is for heroic feats in military service that the legendary plane is most distinguished. It played a major role in the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings, the Berlin Airlift, and the Korean & Vietnam wars, performing astonishing feats along the way.

When General Eisenhower was asked what he believed were the foundation stones for America’s success in World War II, he named the bulldozer, the jeep, the half-ton truck, and the Dakota.

When the Burma Road was captured by the Japanese, and the only way to send supplies into China was over the mountains at 19,000 ft, the Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek said: ‘Give me 50 DC-3s, and the Japs can have the Burma Road ..’

In 1945, a Dakota broke the world record for a flight with an engine out of action, traveling for 1,100 miles from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, with just one propeller working.

Another in RNZAF service lost a wing after colliding mid-air with a Lockheed bomber. Defying all the rules of aerodynamics, and with only a stub remaining, the plane landed, literally, on a wing and a prayer at Whenuapai Airbase.

Once, a Dakota pilot carrying paratroops across the Channel to France heard an enormous bang. He went aft to find that half the plane had been blown away, including part of the rudder. With engines still turning, he managed to skim the wave-tops before finally making it to safety.

Another wartime Dakota was rammed by a Japanese fighter that fell to earth, while the American crew returned home in their severely damaged — but still airborne —plane, and were given the distinction of ‘downing an enemy aircraft’.

Another DC-3 was peppered with 3,000 bullets in the wings and fuselage by Japanese fighters. It made it back to base, was repaired with canvas patches and glue, and then sent back into the air.

During the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, a Dakota crew managed to cram aboard 98 Vietnamese orphans, although the plane was supposed to carry no more than 30 passengers.

In addition to its rugged military service, it was the DC-3 that transformed commercial -passenger flying in the post-war years.

Easily converted to a passenger plane, it introduced the idea of affordable air travel to a world that had previously seen it as exclusively for the rich.

Flights across America could be completed in about 15 hours (with three stops for refueling), compared with the previous reliance on short hops in commuter aircraft during the day and train- travel overnight.

It made the world a smaller place, gave people the opportunity for the first time to see previously inaccessible destinations, and became a romantic symbol of travel.

The DC-3’s record has not always been perfect. After the war, military-surplus Dakotas were cheap, often poorly maintained, and pushed to the limit by their owners. Accidents were frequent. One of the most tragic happened in 1962, when Zulu Bravo, a Channel Airways flight from Jersey, slammed into a hillside on the Isle of Wight in thick fog. All three crew and nine of the 14 passengers died, but the accident changed the course of aviation history.

The local radar, incredibly, had been switched off because it was a Sunday. The national air safety rules were changed to ensure it never happened again.

‘The DC-3 was, and is, unique,’ wrote the novelist and aviation writer Ernest Gann, ‘since no other flying machine has cruised every sky known to mankind, been so admired, cherished, glamorized, known the touch of so many pilots and sparked so many tributes.

“It was without question the most successful aircraft ever built, and even in this jet-age, it seems likely that the surviving DC-3s may fly about their business forever..”

This may be no exaggeration. Next month, Romeo Alpha and Papa Yankee begin a farewell tour of Britain’s airports before carrying their final passengers at the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on July 16.

But after their retirement, there will still be Dakotas flying in the farthest corners of the world, kept going with love, dedication, and sheer ingenuity. Nearly three-quarters of a century after they first entered service, it’s still possible to get a Dakota ride somewhere in the world.

I recently took a DC-3 into the heart of the Venezuelan jungle — to the “Lost World” made famous in the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of the most remote regions on the planet — where the venerable old planes have long been used because they can be maneuvered like birds in the wild terrain.

It’s a scary experience being strapped into a torn canvas chair, raked back at an alarming angle (walking along the aisle of a stationary Dakota is like climbing a steep hill) as you wait for take-off.

The engines spew smoke and oil as they shudder into life with what DC-3 fans describe as ‘music’, but to me sounded like the hammering of a thousand pneumatic-drills. But soon you are skimming the legendary flat-topped mountains protruding from the jungle below, purring over wild rivers and the Angel Falls , the world’s highest rapids. Suddenly the ancient plane drops like a stone to a tiny landing strip just visible in the trees.

The pilot dodges bits of dismantled DC-3 engines scattered on the ground and avoids a stray dog as he touches down with scarcely a bump. How did he do it without air traffic control and the minimum of navigational aids? ”C’est facile — it’s easy,” he shrugged.

Today, many DC-3s live-on throughout the world as crop-sprayers, surveillance patrols, air freighters in forgotten African states, and even luxury executive transports. One, owned by a Houston lumber company, had mink-covered door- knobs, while another belonging to a Texas rancher had sofas and reclining chairs upholstered with the skins of unborn calves..

In Jaipur, India, a Dakota is licensed for flying wedding ceremonies.

Even when they have ended their aerial lives, old Dakotas have become mobile homes, hamburger stands and hen houses. One even serves as a football team changing room.

Clark Gable’s private DC-3, which once ferried chums such as John and Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan, is in a theme park in San Marino. But don’t assume it won’t run again. Some of the oldest hulks have been put back in the skies.

The ancient piston-engines are replaced by modern turboprops, and many a pilot of a modern jet has been astonished to find a Dakota alongside him on the climb away from the runway.

So what is the enduring secret of the DC-3? David Egerton, professor of the history of science and technology at Imperial College, London, says we should rid our minds of the idea that the most recent inventions are always the best.

‘The very fact that the DC-3 is still around and performing a useful role in the world is a powerful reminder that the latest and most expensive technology is not always the one that changes history,’ he says.

It’s long been an aviation axiom that ‘the only replacement for the DC-3 is another DC-3’. So it’s fortunate that at least one seems likely to be around for a very long time to come.

In 1946, a DC-3 on a flight from Vienna to Pisa crashed into the top of the Rosenlaui Glacier in the Swiss Alps. The aircraft was not damaged and all the passengers were rescued, but it quickly began to disappear as a blinding snowstorm raged.

Swiss engineers have calculated that it will take 600 years for it to slide- down inside the glacier and emerge at the bottom.

The most asinine ruling ever dreamed up by a nightmare bureaucracy!!!

I especially appreciate the part requiring “escape slides”. On it’s belly, you can step down from the aircraft floor to the ground.

ONE OF THE SAFEST PLANES EVER BUILD, FOR OUR USE,
WITHOUT ALL THE NEW GADGETS,
IS BEING GROUNDED.
IT SURE BROUGHT US WHERE EVER AND WHENEVER WE WANTED
AND TOOK US BACK SAFELY.

Thanks a million ‘Old Bird’, DC3, C47 or ‘DAKOTA’.
You’ll be missed a lot, for carrying us to safety, when we needed you to.

Flight into Yesterday

Club member Ken Bucholz made a “Flight into Yesterday”I was going through some old magazines of his fathers.
The articles and ads are from the December 1955 issue of Canadian
Flight magazine.

Cessna Aircraft is now producing a tricycle undercarriage version of
the 170, known as the 172, with a tail similar to the 180.
It has a “land-o-matic” gear you can drive!

The story is about a BC aviator, Albert Mah from Prince Rupert.

AFC History 1967 to 1979

AFC History 1967 to 1979

By Steve Stewart

We pick up the story of the AFC in 1967.  By far the most significant event of that year was the Centennial Air Show, which was an unmitigated success in every respect. It has been fully described in our Airshow History, and it is also AFC history.  The only slightly negative thing we can find in the records concerning that show, emerged later, when EAA Ch85 asked to be part of the 1968 show. They specifically stated that they did not want to be responsible for car parking, so we can surmise that this had been one of their responsibilities in 1967, and that they were not happy with it. But, other than that minor quibble, we can only restate that the 1967 airshow was a fantastic show in every respect. It was the biggest public event of the Centennial year; it was a fully national and international event; it attracted hundreds of thousands of guests; it injected significant money into the region’s economy; and it put Abbotsford firmly on the world map of international airshows. Both the AFC and EAA took just over $6,000 from the net revenue for their own club purposes, and each re-invested $17,500 back into the airshow organization. These were huge amounts compared to the funds they previously had available.  Just over a year later the EAA would pull out of further involvement, and demand repayment of its investment. That money is what, in part, enabled creation of the EAA Northwest Fly-In, which became the Arlington Fly-in. So, although the split was acrimonious at the time, there was an ultimate good and positive result.

The airshow would continue to go from one success to another, although there were some years not as successful as others. And the continuing flow of revenue from the show was what enabled and fueled some of the developments we will look at in the AFC. But first we should consider their developing relationship.

********************

Back then, there was universal recognition that the airshow was the creature of the AFC. It was the AFC that was recognized by COPA, by AOPA, and by the federal government in 1970, as having created and developed the airshow. The legal status of the airshow was as a not-for-profit society, with its own board of directors. Those Directors were also the only Members of the society. Four things tied the AIASS to the AFC.

  • The AFC directly appointed 14 of the 28 AIASS Directors, and at times the AFC sought to instruct those Directors on what line they should take.
  • Since the departure of the EAA, the AFC was the only investor in the AIASS, and thus had a claim on all its assets.
  • The AFC was identified as the Sponsor of the AIAS. This term carried strong proprietary implications at that time. It did not mean the type of sponsor that simply provides funds in return for recognition or naming rights etc.
  • The AFC took on the entire task of producing the airshow, and was paid an agreed fee each year in return. This was termed the ‘Production Grant’.

However, the legal relationship was not really as clear as we might have hoped.  In particular, the term Sponsor was not defined.  A general consensus of opinion believed that the AIASS constitution and Bylaws could not be changed without express agreement from the AFC, although this not appear anywhere in the bylaws themselves. And there was a belief, backed up by a legal opinion obtained in 1979, that the AFC would be liable for AIASS debts. There was also concern in the AFC about who were the other 14 Directors of the AIASS, and how they were being chosen.   But for the most part these concerns were just hovering in the background, the AIASS operated as a separate entity, and issues were worked through, rather than being clinically analysed and resolved.  The only mention of the airshow in the AFC bylaws was introduced in 1969, and it required that the AFC President be one of the airshow directors appointed by the club.

There was general consensus that the success of the airshow itself was a good thing for both the AIASS and the AFC.  Right from the early days of the club there had been two reasons for wanting to put on an airshow. One reason was that it could raise funds. But the other was that everyone just wanted a show.  The financial aspects are nice, and are necessary for success, but the second reason is what really builds interest, brings out volunteers, brings in the public, and gets the local community to support the event.  This is as important now as it ever was.  Having an airshow is one of the defining characteristics of the AFC, of CYXX and of Abbotsford.

The mechanism by which the AFC benefitted financially was an agreement whereby the club was paid a Production Grant each year in return for all the volunteer hours put in to producing the show.  After the unpleasant wrangling associated with the departure of the EAA at the end of 1968, it was soon agreed to settle the amount of the grant early in the year, rather than making it a function of the show’s financial performance. That said, there were years when the show actually lost money, and the agreed production grant was a financial burden. In 1976, the AFC paid back $1,500 temporarily, to help with cash flow. From 1970 to 1974 the Production Grant was $7,000.  It was raised to $10,000 for 1975, to $12,000 for 1980, and to $17,000 in 1981, staying at that sum through 1985.  After paying the Production Grant to the AFC, the AIASS Financial Statements indicate net losses for 1971, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1984 and 1985.   But in between there were some very positive years, and by 1981 the AIASS cash equity had grown to over $250k, after having started at $35k in 1968.   The AFC never asked for a return on its initial investment.

Unlike the airshow annual net revenues, the AFC income stream from the Production Grant did not fluctuate. It was this reliable Production Grant that enabled the AFC to budget each year for what it would spend on aircraft, buildings, flying incentives, socials and community outreach. But the money did have to be earned, and every member was expected to help earn it, by volunteering their time both before and during the show.

Each year, an overall summary of how many members put in how much time, and which listed all the areas of activity and responsibility, was provided by the AFC to the AIASS, in order to support the agreed value of the Production Grant.   It could be backed up by detailed records of who had volunteered for how long, exactly when, and what they did.  This detail was used by the AFC internally, to determine eligibility for club programs such as the flying incentive.

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Treasurer Sandy Bazen described the financial success of the 1967 show to the AFC members in December. Almost immediately, at the January 1968 meeting, a ballot was taken regarding the purchase of an aircraft; which passed by 24 votes in favour and 11 votes against. The budget for 1968 showed an allocation of $3,500 for the purpose. Glenn Matthews chaired the acquisition committee, and eventually, once the purchase was made, the whole process was written up well in a newspaper report.  The first aircraft considered, in February, was an 85HP Champ, which would require hand swinging of the propeller. An offer was made, but did not work out.  In June, Matthews went to look at a 90HP Champ, and John Spronk went to see a J3 Cub in Vernon.  There is an unfortunate gap in the Minutes for six months, so we have no further details other than the newspaper report,  but we know the eventual upshot was the purchase of FNSC, a 1961 Cessna 150B, from Abbotsford Air Services. This was an aircraft that many members had already flown and were familiar with.  It had taken almost a year to settle on this aircraft, and it entered service with the club in January 1969. However, as President Joe McWhinney commented, it was only one aircraft, and the club’s 70 members expected to continue relying on AAS and SAS rentals for most of their flying. Aircraft ownership has been part of the AFC operation ever since the purchase of NSC.

One of the issues to be resolved was how much to charge for flying time. The solution adopted did not undercut either SAS or AAS, and it also provided cheap flying to members. Members could fly either the club’s own aircraft or rent from AAS or SAS. The club’s hourly rates were lower than either rental operator, but if a rental C150 was flown, the club paid the difference in rates, so the final price to a member was the same for all options. Quite reasonably, members were expected to take NSC, if it was available, instead of a rental C150.  This applied to all members who qualified to fly NSC. Qualification required a ride with a check pilot. In fact, there were five different rates, with the lowest rate (E) being for members who had joined before 1966, and the highest rate (A) for the newest qualifying members.  We still have the roster of who was approved to fly NSC, and at what rate, in 1969. It shows 19 pilots, 8 of whom joined before 1966 and who paid the lowest hourly rate. The rates were posted in the clubhouse, but were not recorded in the surviving paperwork.

The Flying Incentive also continued in operation, and this paid members to fly. The amounts of incentive available, how quickly it was being used, and what flights qualified, were all under constant review.  Student pilots had to have completed their first solo to be included.  It also included aircraft owners – in October 1967 it was decided that owners could claim up to 2.5 hours value back-dated to March. This was one of the first things agreed as soon as the financial success of the 1967 airshow started to become apparent. (Other decisions at that same time were to take St.John’s Ambulance people for plane rides at the club’s expense and to sponsor the Air Cadets.)  In 1967 the incentive had cost the club a total of $1,394.31 and was almost half of the total budget. For 1968 the incentive was settled at $6 per hour for up to 20 hours, and $2,150 was budgeted, from a total budget (not including the aircraft purchase) of $3,780.  Every monthly meeting included a report on how fast the incentive funds were being used up. The incentive was very generous.  In 1967 a C150 could be rented for $10/hour from AAS or $10.50 from SAS, and the club incentive reduced these numbers by $2.50.  In 1968 the C150 rental rates increased to $13 and $12, but the club incentive was increased to $6.  It is not surprising that the monthly reports often showed the incentive value being used up faster than was planned.

We don’t have a record of what the hourly rates were for NSC,  but in August 1969 the Executive noted that it was not flying as much as expected. The reason was put down to the low rates available from AAS, which were made even more affordable by the AFC flying incentive. Their response was to lower the NSC rate. They also lowered the cost of a check ride in order to encourage more members to qualify.

Unfortunately, we have no surviving minutes from Jan to Oct 1970, but at some point the club decided to buy another aircraft, and this time chose a Cessna 172.  This was FVBU, a 1966 Cessna 172H, and its purchase price was $8,750.  In December the rental rates, for new members, were noted as $15/hour for the C172 and $10 for the C150. For more established members the rates were $13.50 and $8.50.   The five rate levels had been reduced to just two. It was also noted that the C172 cost $14/hour to operate, and that NSC was not paying its way. From Nov 1970 to Oct 1971, NSC flew a total of just 100 hours, whereas VBU flew 200 hours, and as a result the decision was made to sell NSC.

During 1972 and into 1973 the club discussed purchase of another C172 and there was a motion to purchase a 1960 Cherokee 180 for $10,500, but this would have required a loan of $2,000 at 9%, and the motion was defeated.  In Jan 1973 the club was looking at another Cherokee, available for $11,123. It came to visit in March, and by April the club had bought it. This was FCBO, a 1964 PA-28-180.

The aircraft were parked outside at AAS, and in 1974 this cost $100/year for each plane. Intake plugs were not always used, and birds built nests around engines. And CBO was leaking. There was discussion about moving the aircraft indoors, and about building a four-place hangar, but nothing came of it. A similar proposal had been discussed in 1970-71, and it came up again in 1975.

Aircraft repairs and maintenance had become a significant item in the budget ($5,991 in 1975). The aircraft cost significantly more to operate than was collected in rental receipts (shortfall of $2,840 in 1975).  This probably contributed to the scaling back of the total value of the flying incentive.  However, the club had more than enough money coming in from the airshow. In 1975 the production grant was $10,000 and the club also netted $1,653 from film sales; membership dues only contributed $2,376 to the club’s total income. Aircraft maintenance, radio equipment, and the flying incentive were the large expenses in the budget, with clubhouse, lease and other costs being much lower.

One aircraft ownership opportunity, that the club declined, was an offer from Conair in 1976 to sell a Cessna 337 Bird Dog to the club for $30k and then lease it back for two months in summer for $6k.

In January 1977 a discussion was held regarding the idea of buying a third aircraft, but members agreed that they preferred that the money be spent to provide more subsidy to two aircraft.

Later in 1977 there was renewed discussion on upgrading the aircraft, and in September, $10k per aircraft was voted for this purpose.  But in fact VBU was replaced instead of being upgraded. It was sold to club member Lucky Hooieveid. VBU’s replacement was GHXT, a 1975 Cessna 172M, which the club would keep until December 2015. It was purchased for $10,750 plus taxes.

Early in 1978, CBO was also replaced, by GIEV, a 1976 Piper PA-28-151.  And in May the executive voted a flat rate of $20/hour for aircraft rentals (HXT and IEV), regardless of membership term.

The flying incentive had changed every year, and its continuation was always subject to a definite decision at the start of each year. In the early years it was often targeted at specific fly-outs, and qualifying pilots were expected to take other members with them as passengers. As time went by, it became a more general way to simply subsidise members’ flying. At one point it applied to rentals from any source, but was usually limited to just AAS and SAS. SAS closed its training operation at Abbotsford in 1969, so only AAS was involved for some years, but applicability was extended to Coastal Pacific Aviation when they started as a flight training centre.  While it existed, the funds budgeted each year were significant, but they did fluctuate. There is no mention of the flying incentive in the minutes or financial statements from 1976, or from later years.  The executive had discussed its discontinuation back in May of 1975, and made the decision in October, but do we do not have an explanation for why it was discontinued. We might surmise that the club had decided to focus its flying subsidies onto the club’s own aircraft rather than facilitating members to fly rental aircraft.  However, one thing that did continue as club policy for many years, did still facilitate rentals from AAS and CPA. When the club’s own aircraft were already in use, members could rent equivalent aircraft, and the club would pay the difference between the rental hourly rate and the club’s hourly rate.

All the aircraft accounting was not a trivial task, and from 1974 it came with the compensation of one hour per month free flying. There was a suggestion that other jobs might attract similar compensation. An interesting aside is that until 1968 the President had received an honorarium of $50 each year, but this was discontinued from 1969 on.

The club’s aircraft were not always used responsibly.  In 1970 a member was disciplined for flying NSC with a passenger in the right seat, plus two kids somehow standing in the back.   In 1973 it was noted that some members were using VBU for hire, and that this was illegal. This concern was minuted again in 1979. Also in 1973, a member was expelled after a long executive discussion regarding his use of club aircraft.

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Another major development in 1968 was that the club acquired the building which would become its permanent home, so far. This was the old firehall, the first building completed when RCAF Abbotsford was built during the war. It had not been used as the firehall for some years. The big doors in the east wall were boarded over and a lean-to extension had been added along that wall. But the garage space was still used as a garage, with access for smaller vehicles via doors in the north wall.  SAS was interested in the building, but in March, the airport manager, Harold Luesley, gave first refusal to the AFC.  The club moved in some time after the 1968 airshow.  Meetings were held in what is now the bar and lounge, and the garage continued by that name.

The winter of 1968-1969 was particularly cold, and the building needed a new furnace, which would cost $950. The clubroom needed curtains, and the floors need to be waxed.  Chairs were all to be labelled as belonging to AFC, but this did not actually happen until 1970, when they were given out on loan to the municipality. In early 1969 the Air Rangers were given permission to use the building for their meetings. And a janitor was hired at a cost of $12/month.

Up to 1970, the clubhouse was used by the Matsqui Police as a communications centre during the airshows, and from 1971 it became the base for handling airshow cash.  Before that, a workbee had been organized to clean up the garage, and it was estimated that $400 would pay for it to be remodelled.

Airport buildings did not originally have electricity meters installed, but naturally, they became required as buildings were leased. The club took until 1971 to have a meter installed.

The original 1968 rationale was that the building would cost about $1,050/year, and the membership dues were fixed at $15 on the basis that with 70 members they would pay the cost of the building. In fact the total costs, including the lease, property tax, janitor, insurance, utilities and renovations turned out much higher – $2,041 in 1969, and rising to $3,856 in 1979 .  A discussion in Jan 1978 re-affirmed the concept that annual dues should cover the costs of the clubhouse, and the 1979 financial statement does show 100 members each paying dues of $30, plus 15 new members who each paid $60 initiation, for a total dues revenue of $3,900.

The renovations and new facilities included a shuffle-board and a cigarette machine for the lounge in 1971. The exterior was painted in 1972.  The fireplace was built in 1975    In 1973 the garage renovation was still just a plan, and its estimate was now $1,000. The kitchen was renovated in 1976, and new chairs purchased. A patio door was installed in 1977, a patio was built, and a horseshow pit created.  1978 saw new curtains, and new carpets in the washrooms, and necessary renovations were estimated at $7k to $8k with the roof as a priority. A new sign was installed outside in 1979, the exterior was painted again, and 12 cedar trees were planted around the patio. In November the meeting room (formerly the garage) was renamed in honour of Butch Merrick.

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The club’s affluence and acquisition of assets (aircraft, cash and clubhouse), its steady income from the airshow, and its hugely subsidized flying and social possibilities, were enviable things. They were generally perceived as having been built up over the years by the dedication and work of members who had developed the airshow from nothing to its recognized international status. Membership was valuable, and from 1968 on, this spawned a number of developments and trends.

Previously, anyone wishing to join the club simply had to complete the application and pay the dues. From 1968, applicants were first required to attend an interview with the entire executive, who then decided on the merits their application. They were then required to pay an initiation fee, in addition to their annual dues. The initiation fee was considered a buy-in to the assets that had already been accumulated by the members. For 1968 the annual dues were $10 and the initiation fee was $15. By 1976 they were $20 and $30, and in 1979 they were $30 and $60 respectively.  It also took time and effort for a new member to work into the full privileges of membership. The effort was the volunteer work required to help produce the airshow – without enough volunteer hours a member could not qualify for the next year’s flying incentive.  The time element was reflected in the hourly rates for club aircraft being higher for newer members, and also in that new members could not qualify for the flying incentive until they had been a member in good standing for one year.  Good standing also required attendance at general meetings, with only a limited number allowed to be missed. In 1973 six of the meetings could be missed, and this was reduced to three for 1974.  In time a bylaw amendment fixed the attendance requirement at two thirds of the general meetings. Even so, meeting attendance was often very low. Sign-in sheets were introduced in 1972, and again in 1973.  From 1974 a roll was called at every general meeting, and members would be fined 25c for lateness or not wearing their name badge. The roll call and fines were started again in 1977.

There was a sense in which the existing members did not want to offer membership too easily to new applicants, and also a sense that membership should not be shared with too many people. This gave rise to the first suggestions of limiting the membership numbers — that 75 might be a good place to stop.  The membership roll had been fairly stable around 70 to 80 members for some years, but it started to grow, and in 1976 a decision was made to limit the roll to 100. This prompted the need to examine exactly who was on the roll, who had paid their dues, and who was in good standing. The result showed a total list of 120, but some members were considered as not being active in the club. However, it took until late 1977 to settle on a list of names to be struck from the roll. In the meantime, new members were admitted quite regularly anyway, despite the agreed cap of 100. In fact, there was a motion in Nov 1976 to raise the cap to 125, but it was defeated. At the same time, the new policy naturally created the need for a waiting list. Applicants could be interviewed and approved, but they could not become a member until a place opened up. They also had to pay a $40 application fee, which would be credited to their account when they were admitted.  It should be noted that the membership cap never achieved the status of being a bylaw – it was simply an agreed policy. However, it was taken seriously in subsequent years, and it wagged a bylaw into existence, which greatly affected the dynamics of membership.

In particular, it created the need for a new grade of member – Associate Members, and a bylaw was approved in Oct 1977. The new membership grade was intended to accommodate airshow volunteers, and those on the waiting list to become full members. At that time, the membership roll had been pared down to 102 names, and there was a significant waiting list (already 19 names in Feb).  The first step transferred 7 names from full membership to associate membership. These were members who were no longer flying or active (or not very much), and were deemed to no longer need the benefits of full membership – or who the club no longer needed as full members. This opened up seven places for those on the waiting list. The executive took active control from here on, regularly dropping members, specifically choosing who to admit from those on the waiting list, and rejecting some applicants when interviewed. In Feb 1978 eight more members were dropped from the roll, eight replacements were chosen from those on the waiting list, and two new applicants were rejected. The expectation of associate members was that they should be active in the club, while waiting patiently for a full membership slot to open. In 1979 they were given name badges.

In May of 1979 the executive looked at whether the membership cap could be removed, and there was a proposal to raise the cap to 115, but this did not happen.  In spite of the cap remaining in place, in 1979, a total of 37 new members were admitted and 16 new associate members. The cap had brought some rigour to the task of maintaining the membership roll; but it had created a need for significant administrative effort; it must have caused the loss of many members; and it had created two classes of member – those with all the privileges, and those without.

While considering membership classes, we should also mention Life Members. The first was John Spronk. When Skyway Air Services closed their flight training operation at Abbotsford in early 1969, John’s position as CFI ended. He was soon offered a position with Pacific Western Airlines, and this required a move to Edmonton. His contributions had been central to the development and success of both the flying club and the airshow, and in recognition of this, he was made a Life Member of the club. Perhaps the expectation was that his would be a permanent departure, but after two years in Edmonton acquiring all the necessary ratings and seniority, he was able to move back to Abbotsford and to the club.  In 1973 there was some discussion regarding his right to vote as a Life member, but his status and privileges were, of course, confirmed.

The second Life Member was Butch Merrick, and this decision happened in May of 1976. He was presented with a plaque in November. Butch was a founding member of the club, holding Membership Card Number One,  and had made huge contributions of volunteer effort to both the club and the airshow. Unfortunately, he died suddenly in January 1979, and later that year the club’s meeting room was named in his honour.

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Throughout this whole period, the fly-outs, fly-ins, socials, banquets, dances, general meetings, work bees, committee meetings, and airshow activities, etc etc continued unabated.  And the club supported a number of worthy community causes.

The club had organized the airshow preview event in June of 1968. It was a good month for a fly-in, and in time, Father’s Day fly-ins would become a regular event, with pancake breakfasts and spot landing and flour bombing contests. Butch Merrick was always on hand to organize the food. In early 1974, John Spronk was planning for the fly-ins to include an annual air race, but that particular idea was abandoned by April.

Fly-out participation was high; encouraged by the flying incentive and low hourly rates. Crossing the US border was less inconvenient than it is now. A total of 108 people planned to make the trip to Renton in April 1968; using four aircraft, a number of cars, and a bus.  US flyouts also included Roche Harbor, Blakely Island, and Olympia.  More frequent trips were made to destinations in BC.  In addition to the organized fly-outs, Sunday mornings became the time to show up at 8.30am, and then launch on spontaneous fly-outs to wherever seemed like a good destination at the time. In May of 1973 there was even a motion that the club aircraft be specially reserved for this every Sunday morning, but it was defeated. Perhaps they didn’t really need to fly-out anyway – at one point in 1974 Butch Merrick was cooking breakfast regularly every Sunday, for whoever was there at the club.

Not every social, banquet or dance was well attended, and sometimes they were a net cost to the club. The issue of beer in the clubhouse appears in the minutes a number of times. In 1969 it was decided that the club needed a liquor licence for its Saturday night events.  At one time it was decided that the bar would only be open on meeting nights. At another, it was decided that there would be no alcohol allowed in the meetings and that the bar would be closed during meetings. The bar was always an honour system, and more than once there was a shortfall from the funds that should have been there, which in 1974 resulted in a decision that beer should be discontinued.

The club maintained its community relations by sponsoring organisations such as the Air Cadets, and events like Miss Abbotsford. The Miss Abbotsford competition was a longstanding annual commitment. Various local organisations, the club included, sponsored a girl to enter, paying for her expenses. The club entries always visited the club to meet members. The eventual competition winners were treated as celebrities at the airshow every year. Numerous deserving groups were taken for airplane rides at the clubs expense, these included the St John’s Ambulance members, a Junior Hockey team, Job’s Daughters, airshow volunteers, and trainees from the Wildwood Training Centre. In 1968, members had to be reminded to not make commitments on behalf of the club, such as free rides. The club also provided bursaries for students at Selkirk College, BC Vocational Institute, and Trinity Western.

 

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A B C D
1 How many terms as President did John Spronk serve? 1 1 2 3 4
2 What year were the trees (the hedge) planted behind the club? 2 1968 1942 1979 1991
3 How many trees were there originally? 3 32 24 12 6
4 How many trees are there now? 4 32 24 12 6
5 What year did John Spronk become the club’s first Life Member? 5 1961 1967 1969 1979
6 Who was the second Life Member? 6 King Hussien Don Nikkel Butch Merrick Gordy Cockriell
7 To whom was the club’s first Cessna 172 (VBU) eventually sold? 7 Bob McFarland Lucky Hooieveid Wayne Cave Dick Heke
8 Who was the first Manager hired to run the airshow administration? 8 Doris Matthews Ron Thornber Ian Smith Harold Luesley
9 Who was Treasurer for 1966-67 ? 9 Doris Mathews Sid Collins Sandy Bazen John Mor
10 By 1979, how many aircraft had the club purchased? 10 3 4 5 6
11 How many aircraft did the club still own in December 1979? 11 1 2 3 4
12 What was the membership cap number agreed in 1976? 12 75 100 125 150
13 What year was the grade of Associate Member introduced? 13 1962 1968 1976 1979
14 From 1968, how many airshow directors were appointed by the AFC? 14 7 14 21 28
15 What was the name of the annual payment made by the airshow to the club? 15 Campground Payment Sponsor Dividend Production Grant Investor’s Payback
A B C D
16 Which club members were not expected to volunteer with the airshow? 16 Directors Women None Members in good standing
17 What was the name of the payment made to members who flew rented aircraft? 17 Flying Incentive Flying Subsidy Renter’s Subsudy Pilot’s Payback
18 What type was the first aircraft considered for purchase by the club in 1968? 18 Cessna 150 J3 Cub Cessna 172 Champion
19 In 1969, how many different aircraft hourly rates were charged to members on the basis of seniority? 19 2 3 4 5
20 What was the name of the first civilian flight training unit at Abbotsford? 20 Skyway Air Services Sumas Air Service Abbotsford Air Services Coastal Pacific Aviation
21 What year was the Short Stranraer flying boat rebuild finished at Aerovive? 21 1970 1962 1967 1975
22 What year did the Golden Centennaires perform at the airshow? 22 1958 1967 1971 1978
23 What year did the Golden Hawks come to Abbotsford? 23 1958 1961 1967 1973
24 When was the fireplace completed in the clubhouse lounge? 24 1969 1963 1973 1978
25 What was the original purpose of the building we use as a clubhouse? 25 Mess Hall Fire Hall Guard House Officers’ Club
26 How many original wartime buildings are still standing at the airport? 26 3 4 5 6
27 In which building was the original Terminal, which came into operations after the airport was transferred to civilian use? 27 Building 1 Building 2 Building 3 Building 33
28 In what year did Lady Baden Powell hold a Girl Guide Rally at the airport? 28 1948 1956 1966 1972
29 In 1979, what were the club’s annual dues, and what was the initiation fee? 29 $10 and $20 $20 and $60 $30 and $30 $15 and $25
30 Who was Miss Abbotsford in 1967? 30 Gloria Swanson Carol Sim Linda Swanson Lana Turner
A B C D
31 Who flew Miss America at the airshow in 1970? 31 Bob Hoover Captain America Bud Granley Dib Dibnah
32 Who opened the airshow in 1974? 32 Richard Nixon Pierre Trudeau Hussein bin Talal Ayatollah Khomeni
33 What year in the 1960’s was there no RCAF presence at the airshow? 33 1998 1964 1967 1969
34 Who is best credited with inventing the now common term City of Abbotsford? 34 George Ferguson Henry Braun Chuck Dennet Matthew Begbie
35 Where were the first airshows in what is now the City of Abbotsford? 35 RCAF Abbotsford Parajump centre Lundstrom Farm Mill Lake Park
36 How many Founding Members were there? 36 10 17 25 40
37 Who is currently the second most senior member of the club? 37 Millie Watson Murray Webb John Pawlovich Don Richardson
38 In what year was Conair formed? 38 1969 1971 1973 1975
39 Who was the first DoT Airport Manager at Abbotsford 39 Phil Gaglardi Harold Luesley George Miller Harold Porter
40 What was registration of the aircraft bought by the club in 1977 40 VBU CBO HXT IEV
41 Where was the inaugural meeting of the AFC? 41 Building 2 Armouries Abbotsford Air Services Fire Hall
42 What year did the RAF send two Belfasts to transport the Short Stranraer back to UK? 42 1962 1970 1975 1986
43 What was the name of Art Scholl’s dog? 43 Elevator Snoopy Aileron Deadweight
44 How was the airshow billed in 1965? 44 Abbotsford Air Show Rotary Air Show Centennial Air Show Abbotsford International Air Show
45 How many days was the 1964 airshow? 45 1 2 3 4
46 What was the club’s purchase price for HXT? before tax 46 $8,500 $10,750 $11,250 $16,800
47 From what year was the AFC President required to be an airshow director? 47 1962 1967 1969 1975
48 What year was the first extention to what was then runway 06-24? 48 1945 1958 1970 1981
49 What was the last year that John Spronk performed in the airshow? 49 1966 1969 1974 1979
50 Which club member was part of the Canadian skydiving team for the 1964 world championships? 50 Hank Hamm Doris Giles Dave Giles Doris Matthews

 

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

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

By Steve Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

No photo description available.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Chuck Dennet at work on the Starlifter

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

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

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