COPA Flight — Nov 2010
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Plane Talk
Tim Cole

There’s no shortage of aerodrome adversaries

Airports, aerodromes, airstrips and seaplane-bases (whatever name you chose to call them) always seem to be under an attack of some sort.

Whether it is from land developers, various levels of governments, environmentalists, NS (noise sensitive) or the NIMBY (not in my back yard) folks, there is no shortage of adversaries to aerodromes all across Canada.

Aerodromes are a little easier to physically establish and maintain in the flatter portions of our country, but are much more difficult in the land of tall trees, vertical real-estate and in the cold jungle climate of the coastal rainforest (Where in some places the alders can grow several feet a year!).

Therefore, wherever we have one established, it is particularly disturbing to hear about a proposed closure or disappearance.

When members and/or aerodrome operators become aware of these situations I recommend that you go on line to the COPA website and refer to the Guide to Public Airports and the Guide to Private Aerodromes. These two documents contain invaluable information relating to airports. The largest part of the success in keeping aerodromes open rests with the local flying fraternity working in conjunction with the local authorities. Being proactive goes a long way to helping resolve these situations.

On a similar but good news note, I would like to describe Hastings Field located on North Pender Island which is owned by Mr. Earl Hastings. Earl established the runway in 1955 and for the past 55 years has made his airstrip available not only to pilots visiting his Gulf Island community but also, in The 1980’s, allowed a medivac heliport to be established on it whereby his neighbours and fellow Islander’s have emergency medical access to hospitals in nearby Victoria or Vancouver.

The airstrip is located just above sea level and is a one way in and one way out strip that runs uphill. It is described as being 1,600 feet plus, with an extension that looks like a truck runoff that makes it a little longer.

If you Google “Pender Island, B.C. Approach” there are a couple of YouTube clips that give views of the approach to the strip. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to watch the wind conditions, but once you have been in you find that it’s not bad at all.

Prior to 1955 Earl had a successful machine shop in Victoria. He told me that the decision he had to make was to remain with his successful business in town, or move to the island and follow his passion as a pilot. He chose the latter and over the years he operated a Stinson 108 and then later a Grumman Widgeon from the strip to aid him in his travel as he worked on logging operations on the B.C. Coast.

His many years of hard work have paid off and for the last two years I have attended the Hastings Field appreciation day. On August 28th Earl’s son John brought him over to visit and enjoy the 25 aircraft, pilot’s and passengers that dropped in to say hello while David and Christine Grey and other island volunteers provided Hotdogs, fresh corn and refreshments. It’s a great place to visit with lots of local things to do within walking distance. Thanks for all the hard work and hospitality Earl.
Well Done!


This year there was a record sockeye salmon run on the Fraser River. The Gravel Bar Cowboys from the Langley Aero Club were out there landing their aircraft on the gravel bars almost every evening and limiting out on sockeye.

In addition to their shore parties of cooking fresh salmon in the traditional native method over an open fire, they shared their bounty by hosting other club members to a salmon feast at the LAC DC3 club house on September 18.

That was the same afternoon/ evening that the Boundary Bay Flying Club and Delta COPA Flight 5 held a barbecue and corn roast at Delta Air Park. After attending both and sampling all the food, I rolled home in an “over gross” condition!


Earlier that day was a more solemn event, when I attended a funeral mass in North Vancouver for Carroll (Carl) Moran 1919-2010. Carl was both a pilot and AME. He trained in the RCAF, and in addition to being an instructor posted to England in 1945, he flew operational missions in de Havilland Mosquito aircraft over occupied Europe.

For 10 years, after the war, he was the manager and chief flying instructor of the Portage Flying Club, at his hometown of Portage LaPrairie. He later joined the DOT and was active as a Civil Aviation Inspector in the Central Region. He was later posted to Ottawa where among other duties he was the main liaison between DOT and COPA. Later in his career he was the Regional Superintendent of Air Regulations in Vancouver.

Carl maintained his interest in aviation right to the last and was active in many flying fraternities and associations. He will be missed by his family and aviation friends.

It is also sad to report the passing of Corea (nee Duek) Diston 1921-2010. Corie is survived by her husband Darmel. Together in the 1960’s and 1970’s they founded the Delta Heritage Air Park, CAK3.

She was a wonderfully hospitable person and opened the Koffee Port, (now the Old Coffee Shop) in the farm’s original granary. She was known for her wonderful vegetable soup and her lemon meringue pies. A celebration of life was held in Langley on October 2, 2010.


On Saturday September 11, a moving ceremony was held at the Abbottsford War memorial.

During WW II the Abbottsford Airport was founded as an RCAF training aerodrome.
Work started in 1942 and the station officially opened on July 14, 1943. The RCAF station was officially closed in 1946.

During this time basic training was conducted on Fairchild PT-26 Cornell aircraft and later operational training was conducted On B-25 Mitchell and B- 24 Liberator aircraft. The basic training was conducted in association with the Aero Club of B. C. (Now located at Pitt Meadows and is also Vancouver COPA Flight 16).

The ceremony was dedicated to the memory of the 66 military personnel that lost their lives in the service of their country while training under war time conditions at Abbottsford. Many that lost their lives were RAF personnel.

A plaque was added to the cenotaph in their memory. In attendance were: Michael Desmaze and Bill Overy who spearheaded this memorial project, Mayor George Peary, B. C. Attorney General Michael de Jong and many other dignitaries.

Flight Lieutenant Neville Kingdon, RAF and Captain Lorne Claymore, CAF flew a CF18 Hornet to Abbotsford from Cold lake Alberta. Flight Lieutenant Kingdon attended the ground ceremony as the RAF representative and Captain Claymore conducted the memorial fly past in the CF18. A military band from the 861 Silverfox Cadet Squadron attended and the squadron also provided an Honour Guard dressed in traditional WWII uniforms.

Talking about memorial events; Lt. Colonel (Ret.) John MacGregor of COPA Flight 5, John Dicker, his navigator from Ottawa, Kris Reynolds of Sechelt, B.C. and Jim Herbert of Springbank, Alberta conducted a 5,000-mile round trip in their three L19s to Fredericksburg, Texas for the 60th Anniversary Roundup of the Cessna Birddog — 37 Birddogs were in attendance.

B. C. & Yukon Plane Talk

John departed Langley on September 10 for Springbank and then points south and returned on September 21. The crew have some great stories to tell, including cross winds and Texas hospitality. For you B.C. folks that know John, take a look at his L19 when you get a chance. He brought back some interesting hardware!

Finally, a big thanks to Abe de Jager, Shane O’Conner and the members of the Fraser Valley Sport Aviation EAA Chapter 1477, for a great Wednesday night barbecue at Chilliwack on September 22.