All posts by Canada

Canada 150 Presentation at the Langley Aero Club

On Wednesday evening, January 17, 2018, I am delivering a presentation at the Langley Aero Club, Hangar #5, at 19:00 on our Canada 150 Anniversary Flight across the country. Highlights include visits to all ten Provincial Capitals, visits with Air Cadets training for their Private Pilot Licence, a stop in Ottawa and visits to a few aviation museums. I will also share some very interesting weather issues and flight planning on our journey. All are welcome.

Canada 150 Presentation at the Abbotsford Flying Club

On Wednesday evening, January 13, 2018, I am delivering a presentation at the Abbotsford Flying Club at 19:30 on our Canada 150 Anniversary Flight across the country. Highlights include visits to all ten Provincial Capitals, visits with Air Cadets training for their Private Pilot Licence, a stop in Ottawa and visits to a few aviation museums. I will also share some very interesting weather issues and flight planning on our journey. All are welcome.

Canada 150 Presentation at the Abbotsford Flying Club

On Wednesday evening, December 13, 2017, I am delivering a presentation at the Abbotsford Flying Club at 19:30 on our Canada 150 Anniversary Flight across the country. Highlights include visits to all ten Provincial Capitals, visits with Air Cadets training for their Private Pilot Licence, a stop in Ottawa and visits to a few aviation museums. I will also share some very interesting weather issues and flight planning on our journey. All are welcome.

October 15 – Victoria, British Columbia – Vimy Flight

Today was to be a special day to meet up with the Vimy Flight at their final stop in Victoria, British Columbia. Their replica World War I aircraft have had a very interesting year, from flying over Vimy Ridge, France for the 100 year celebration of the battle at Vimy Ridge, flying across Canada including Parliament Hill in Ottawa, us meeting up with them in Brandon, Manitoba at the Commonwealth Training Plan Museum, and now at their final event in Victoria.

We had another easy flight from Abbotsford to Victoria and as usual parked at the Victoria Flying Club. The Club has been around since before World War II and has conducted flight training since then.

After parking at the Victoria Flying Club it was a short walk to the BC Aviation Museum. There is no taxiway access to the museum so you have to park your aircraft nearby on the apron and walk to the museum.

Vimy Flight aircraft on display

BeBe Bilic giving the final presentation to the group at the museum. 

Larry Ricker Pre-flight inspection


Bob and Larry Ricker met the crew that we met in Brandon

On the final flight Larry carried our Canada Flag that has been across the country this past summer

The final flight for the aircraft – will be sent to a museum

October 5 – Tofino, British Columbia

Today we flew from Abbotsford to Tofino, Long Beach Airport, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

We had tried on June 29 and were unable to get here for our Canada 150 Kick-Off because there was fog all along the west coast of Vancouver Island. When that fog settles in sometimes it lasts for days. We might have missed getting here for the “Kick-Off” but I guess you can say we made it to our “Touchdown”.

Approaching Long Beach Airport


Long Beach Airport


We parked at the terminal for Long Beach Airport, small but very nice for the island community.

We had made arrangements with Orca Airways for transportation to the beach for pictures with our Canada Flag. Thanks to Charles Champenhet we had a short ride to the beach and he was also our photographer, what a nice young man.


Here we are at Long Beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean.


Pacific Ocean gently rolling in. The sand here is so fine and clean and packs real hard. Some beaches near here are occassionally used for mini-flyins. The guys with tail draggers meet up and have a beach BBQ. Sounds like fun but not the kind of operation suitable for the Turbo Arrow.


On departure from Tofino we climbed out over the Pacific Ocean then headed east toward Port Alberni.


On our way to Port Ablerni. Here is where the situational awareness is enhanced with the amazing display of terrain. 

flew to Port Albernie (CBS8)

Garmin GNS 530 enhances situational awareness with terrain feature

Port Albernie had a lot of construction recently with a new runway extension fully paved mainly to accommodate a Boeing 737. The company at the airport is modifying older B737 aircraft from Southwest Airlines, to be water bombers, the first such modification in the world. Quite an accomplishment for a little airport on Vancouver Island.

August 18 – Boundary Bay Airport – Air Cadet Graduation

This summer the Air Cadets on the Flying Scholarship Program were training at three airports in the Vancouver area; Boundary Bay, Langley and Abbotsford. Their graduation ceremony was together  held in the big hangar at Boundary Bay Airport with all three groups combined. The reviewing officer was Lt. Col Mike French, Commander of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron – Snowbirds!

Two Canada 150 aircraft prior to the graduating ceremony.

Matching tail decals.

Bob and Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French with the Canada Flag at Boundary Bay Airport.

The Colour Guard marches past during the graduation ceremony.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French had the honour of cutting the cake with the graduating pilots.

Bob and Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French with the Canada Flag and the graduating class of new pilots at Boundary Bay Airport.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French was very helpful folding the Canada Flag.

A warm sincere handshake from the Air Cadet top brass.

August 12 – Abbotsford Air Show

Today was our family day at the Abbotsford Airshow.

My son, Chris, and his family attended the airshow for the first time. Brodie was getting around OK but Hudson still needs the comfort of his mother’s loving arms.

Valerie walked a mile or two keeping track of Brodie.

Brodie was watching to make sure that no one was getting past security.

Valerie and Brittney at the airshow. Little Hudson saw airplanes for the first time. Next year he will be walking around.

I thanked Brodie for a job well done and invited him to be my wingman.

Staff Sergeant Major John A. Buis from the Burnaby Detachment of the RCMP helped me with the Canada Flag. This good officer has flying experience on the Piper Arrow from years past at flying school at Langley. His watchful eyes were on our technique as we folded the flag and everything must have been OK since he gave us his approval.

The Snowbirds gave another amazing performance. Nine training aircraft performing together right in front of the crowd.


August 11 – Abbotsford Air Show

We are now back at our home airport and have the next three days to enjoy the Abbotsford International Airshow.

The ABBOTSFORD INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW is designated as Canada’s National Airshow and is Canada’s premier aviation festival.

The President of the Abbotsford Airshow, Jim Reith, was also an Air Cadet in the 60’s. In 1968 we met on a training course at the Canadian Forces Base Borden (then known as Camp Borden) about 100 kilometres north of Toronto,  Ontario. The six week Technical Training Course had 100 Air Cadets from across Canada. Jim and I were in the same class together for the course and hung around in the evenings with a few other guys. 

For the first two weeks we had a photography course learning how to capture images use a large press camera, the Speed Graphic which uses 4 x 5 sheet film. They are the kind of cameras that one sees in old movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s. After shooting it was into the darkroom to develop the film and make 8 x 10 black-and-white prints. That was so cool for me being taught by military photographers; I thought it was right up my alley.

Jim went on in the military and had a career as a pilot in the RCAF and later with Air Canada, while my career as a pilot was with Transport Canada. Last year we met up again for the first time since 1968 in Camp Borden and our conversations seemed to pick -up where we left off. I am looking forward to working with Jim on the airshow.

I usually have the Turbo Arrow on display in the General Aviation section at the airshow. Taxiing out I couldn’t resist stopping on the flight line for a shot with the Snowbirds. I guess the Arrow could be Snowbird #13. The paint scheme looks good, I just have to figure out how to install the smoke system.

The CF-188 Canada 150 Jet had arrived yesterday and was parked on the hot side so I thought that was a good opportunity for a photo with our Canada Flag. I will probably get a few more this weekend but had to take advantage of this early shot.

A lot of business are participating in Canada 150 celebrations and this mobile food wagon, the Double Decker Diner, was getting ready to feed the crowd.

The Friday airshow is a evening/twilight show followed by fireworks. Valerie looks like she is ready for the evening and all she needs is a red blanket.

The CF-188 flew in the evening show and one interesting thing they did at the end  of the show while on the landing roll out was the pilot lowered the arresting hook creating a shower of sparks. I really don’t think the wear on the hook will create any operational issues since Canadian aircraft don’t land on Aircraft Carriers. Once back at the flight line the ground crew carefully inspected the aircraft to make sure all is well for tomorrow’s airshow.

August 10 – Medicine Hat – Air Cadets then to Abbotsford, British Columbia

Today we fly the final leg of our Canada 150 Journey, from Medicine Hat, Alberta to our home airport at  Abbotsford, British Columbia. The Abbotsford International Airshow is on August 11, 12 and 13 so we wanted to arrive sometime today to be able to have our aircraft on display for the airshow starting tomorrow.

As is normally the case, the airshow performers have a practice session on the day before the show. For Abbotsford Airport, there was a NOTAM (notice to airmen) indicating that the airspace will be closed for three hours this morning starting at 10:45 PDT for practice sessions for air show performers, so that meant that we needed to arrive before 10:45 or would have to land at some other airport like Chilliwack and wait until we could go to Abbotsford.

This summer British Columbia has had very hot dry weather and the worst fire season on record. Most of the southern half of the province is filled with smoke. I started planning for this leg last evening, checking the forecast for this morning’s departure from Medicine Hat, the enroute weather, and the weather for this morning’s arrival in Abbotsford. I had called the Abbotsford Control Tower last evening and informed the controllers of our plans for this morning; departing Medicine Hat early enough to arrive in Abbotsford before the airspace is closed. They are a great bunch of folks in the tower and I have worked with them for many years since my aircraft is based at Abbotsford. They were very understanding and said they would be very accommodating for our arrival this morning.

 With forecast light winds from the north-west and clear skies, I figured we would fly above most of the smoke at 12,500 feet and take about 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach Abbotsford, and to make it all work we needed to depart Medicine Hat before 08:30 MDT.

So I filed a flight plan to depart at 08:20, cruise VFR at 12,500 feet where we would be in the clear, direct to Abbotsford. If I had planned IFR there could have been airway routings that would have taken us longer to get to Abbotsford and we might have arrived after the airspace closure time.

The Air Cadets arrived on time at 08:00, we chatted for about 5 to 10 minutes regarding our trip and my being an Air Cadet and on the same course 50 years ago that they are on this summer. Today, some were in ground school, some were scheduled on training flights and one cadet was taking his Private Pilot Flight Test. I encouraged all of them to continue flying and perhaps consider a career in aviation.

We wished them success and then it was time to head out to the airplane for a photo with the Arrow and the Canada Flag.

With all that taken care of it was now time to start the day’s flying. This morning we had good summer prairie weather with light wind on departure and all along our route of flight to Abbotsford. There were several NOTAMS with restrictions for airspace closures to allow the water bombers a chance to deal with the forest fires. Our cruise altitude was above their airspace so there was no conflict. The Arrow had been fuelled yesterday and pre-flighted earlier this morning, so we were ready for engine start at 08:15. Everything went as planned and we took off at 08:23 MDT.

It was nice to look over the open prairies with blue skies above, knowing that soon conditions would change making the flying more challenging. The Garmin GNS 530W GPS was updating our position as we went and calculating our ETA. During the climb out from Medicine Hat it showed 10:57, not good. After we leveled off and accelerated the GPS updated our ETA to be 10:38, now we felt real good!

The haze layer ahead was now quite visible and by the time we reached Lethbridge you could see the smoke and even began to smell the smoke at 12, 500 feet.

A little further along we were over the Rocky Mountains and the visibility decreased considerable with the smoke filling the valleys.

The flight continued uneventfully as we headed westward. I usually contact the ATC Centre for Flight Following and on this leg I was talking to Vancouver Centre. After passing the Princeton VOR we were handed over to Victoria Terminal for our arrival into Abbotsford. It was so comforting to be greeted with a “welcome home, Bob” as we began our descent. Ryan Van Haren, the controller, had noticed “Arrow 150” on the radar and had been following us for quite some time. Ryan is a very experience pilot, an aircraft owner and one of the guys that started the BC General Aviation Association. He has so much enthusiasm for aviation that it is just overflowing.

The Abbotsford weather was marginal VFR with light winds and with very little traffic the tower controller cleared us for a straight in approach for Runway 25.  It felt good to touch down on a very familiar runway.

While taxiing in I contacted Kamloops FIC to close my flight plan and was again greeted by a friendly voice, this time Bob Houldsworth. I first met Bob at the Vancouver Flight Service Station in the late 80s when we both worked in the same building, he as a weather briefer and me as an Inspector with Transport Canada. We had a brief chat on the radio, perhaps our last on the air as Bob will be retiring shortly.

After flying 462 nautical miles today in 3 hours and 17 minutes we arrived in Abbotsford at 10:40 PDT, with five minutes to spare before the airspace was closed. 

Mission Accomplished!