It all started out near the end of 2014 when Elke Robinson introduced me to my soon to be best friend David Bianchi. I was complaining to Elke about the Jodel I had been flying and how it had been down all that previous summer for maintenance, and in fact, was still down. She told me I should give David Bianchi a call and fly with him in his Titan Tornado until the Jodel got back on her feet. To make a long story short (You're welcome Leon), David and I soon became good friends, and from there the flying adventures ensued through our involvement in the Pacific Pilots group. I've put links after each flight so you can ready the full "author" length version, if you'd like.
The first Adventure that the David's went on was up to Powell River with James and Stumpy (Greg). I hadn't flown up there in years and it was the first time I got to check out Julie's Airport Cafe, which is a very nice restaurant a quick stroll down the road from the airport. Powell River Blog
In December David and I flew up to Sechelt to visit my friend Nicole who had invited us up there to attend a Boxing Day Party. Because of the limited hours of sunlight, our visit was quick, but none-the-less a very enjoyable one. Boxing Day in Sechelt Blog
Before the end of 2014, we also managed to get over to Victoria (CYYJ) for a poke around the airport. We found where the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program was having their new Cessna 182 towplanes customized, and we also found the home of the then engineless PBY-5A Canso/Catalina of the Catalina Preservation Society. Victoria Visit Blog
Then, there was the unintentional multi-day New Years adventure to Powell River that saw many different members of my aviation family coming together to save the day when I had a flat tire on the Jodel. Thank you to Jason Binns, Patrick Riley, and Gary Johnson for all of your help! New Years Blog #1 New Years Blog #2
Our next little trip was a low level inspection of the Fraser River on our way to and from Chilliwack. We were joined by Peter in his very nice little Folgore. The pie was good! Pi O'Clock Blog
In fact, it was that day, sitting in the cafe eating our pie right around 3:14pm that I came up with the concept of the Pi Day Fly-in at Chilliwack. Pi Day was going to be March (Third month) 14th, which math nerds would appreciate roughly translates to 3.14, π! We spoke with the airport restaurant and wheels were turning to make it a fun little event and a great excuse to bring a bunch of pilots together. Sadly though, the weather conditions were not conducive to flight on the day of the event, so we elected to have a get together in Ladner at Speeds Pub, followed by getting some pie from the local bakery and enjoying it in the RAA roundhouse at Delta Air Park. Sadly, word hadn't spread quickly enough, because Guido ended up posting a picture of his wrist watch and the easily recognizable floor tiles in the background letting us all know he had actually gotten to CYCW, and was alone. Clearly, the wind didn't bother him at all!
Our next little trip was indeed to CYCW and it consisted of a 3-plane group. David B in the Tornado, Jen (David Bianchi's wife) and I in the Jodel, and James and Jodi in James' Coyote II. It was a nice day out and an error in my judgement led me to a reminder to never make assumptions and to always error on the side of safety. Thankfully nobody was hurt and nothing got pranged, but I did walk away somewhat embarrassed, but better off having learned from my mistake. Chilliwack Blog
I pleasant flight out to Rowena's was our next adventure. It happened to be the Bianchi's wedding anniversary lunch, so after finishing up the annual on the Jodel, I again took Jen in the Jodel and David B flew solo in the Tornado up to Rowena's for a nice meal. Bianchi Anniversary Blog
The next adventure we went on was amazing. I was part of a 3-plane group that flew up to Squamish to take aerobatic lessons with the extraordinary aerobatics instructor, Jodi Rueger. The plane we would be using for our lessons wouldn't be any of the planes we flew up in, but rather a more appropriate airplane, Glacier Air's Super Decathlon. Considering how much fun we all had, we ended up organizing a second visit to Squamish for some more upside-down flying time, which attracted even more airplanes to fly up the second time. Again, this was a beautifully memorable experience. Aerobatics Day Blog #1 Aerobatics Day Blog #2
The Double David's along with Jen, James, and Stumpy also managed to fly over to Qualicum Beach to visit David Bianchi's parents who live close the airport. We had a very nice lunch at the excellent restaurant located in the airport terminal building, and then with the departure of James and Stumpy, the rest of us took a short drive to go explore the Little Qualicum Cheese farm. Qualicum Beach Blog
After that, was the Great Vargas Fly-in (May 9th), which started out as what we thought would be a small event, but it soon ballooned into one of the most memorable moments of my life, seeing 16 airplanes and a helicopter bring over 30 people and a deaf dog to one of the most stunning beaches on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. The Great Vargas Fly-in Blog
A nearly as cool fly-out happened soon after, and it was our trip to Texada Island. I want to keep it a bit of a secret, so I'll just say it was incredibly fun, included airplanes, beaches, fresh oysters, and a pearl! It was also the first time my sister, Tessa, joined us on one of our flying adventures. Texada Island Blog
The next family member to take flying as part of the Pacific Pilot group was my dad, Daryl. He and I flew up to Courtenay Airpark where we met up with David B, Len, Lee, and David B's parents. After Len and Lee took off for home, the rest of us drove into Comox and had a nice late lunch at the Black Fin Pub. Courtenay Blog
Later in the summer the Double David's took part in the memorial service for Gary Morical. Gary had passed away in an aviation accident the day before our trip to Vargas, of which he had intended to fly out with us. The memorial service was our chance to thank him for his friendship which had too quickly come to an end, and to hear how he touched the hearts of so many people in the local aviation community. Gary's Memorial Blog
June 14th saw the Double David's first participation in the 99's famous Poker Run. This event was so much fun and we only wish the Jodel was faster and the day longer, so we could have visited more of the participating airports and met more of the great participants and volunteers. Poker Run Blog
A couple weeks later I flew down to Ephrata, Washington solo in the Jodel to volunteer at the IAC Apple Cup Aerobatic Competition. I had previously taken a course on aerobatic judging, and this was my chance to put my newly learned skills to practice.
In August, David Bianchi and I flew his Tornado, and James' shared Murphy Renegade to Abbotsford for the full duration of the Abbotsford International Airshow. James also brought his Coyote, Sharon and Darryl brought their Eurofox, and Leon brought his Symphony. The event was great, and we had a lot of wonderful interactions with the airshow visitors. There was a lot of interest in the neat little ultralights we had brought to the show. I think we'll be back next year! Abbotsford Airshow Blog
Following the Abbotsford Airshow, a group of Pacific Pilots also flew out to the Chilliwack Airshow, a smaller, but just as enjoyable gathering of airplanes and aviators. On our way home, I actually managed to get the Jodel into King George Airpark, aided by a decent headwind. That was a first!
Almost lastly, was my return to Ephrata, WA in September. This time I participated in my first aerobatic competition, called Apple Turnover. Again, I had an absolutely wonderful time, and it deserves its own blog post.
That's about it! Thank you to everyone that made my 2015 so amazing! I look forward to 2016 with much anticipation! The way I see it, we've only just begun to scratch the surface of what kind of flying we can do in the Vancouver area.
So, that's just my experience over the last 12 months. I know there are a lot of you out there that have had your own amazing adventures too. I encourage you to post your own "Year in Review" and share some of your favourite moments.
Until next time, fly safe and fly smart.
Written by: David McIntosh