51st Annual Convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society

Check back next week for convention photos.

Our annual convention took place in Regina, Saskatchewan, from 4 to 7 June 2014. Hosted by Regina's Roland Groome Chapter, MC Will Chabun and his team of volunteers led attendees through a fascinating tour of Saskatchewan's aviation past and present.

The convention started with the traditional meet and greet, helping participants find old friends and make new ones. The book sale and silent auction also started on Wednesday evening, with several tables' worth of enticing aviation related books, articles, and CAHS merchandise for sale.

Thursday morning started bright and early with a bus trip to 15 Wing Moose Jaw and the Western Development Museum. Our first stop was the 15 Wing Headquarters, where we met our tour guides. They took us first through the safety systems shop, where we saw the ejection seat trainer for the pilots and students. From there, we entered the hangar, where CT-155 Hawk and CT-156 Harvard II aircraft were undergoing maintenance. Participants found the ability to see under the skin of the airplanes to be a unique, fascinating experience. Our guides described the training programmes, and a typical day as a pilot trainee. A short walk took us to the hangar housing the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, our world famous air demonstration team, also known as 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron. We sat in the squadron briefing room, with some attendees occupying the numbered (odd numbers on the left of the table, even numbers on the right) chairs used by the pilots. We watched a short video showing the training and preparation carried out by the team, and then we walked into the hangar to see the airplanes. While the team was away, there were several Canadair CT-114 Tutor aircraft in various stages of disassembly for us to examine. We then took a lengthy walk against a chilly, brisk wind, to the control tower. We got a controller's eye view of the airport as several Hawks came in to land. A short walk took us to the Officer's Mess. We had a very good lunch and finished the base tour with a visit to the historic panelled bar area, with artefacts and memoribilia imported from RCAF Station Marville, France, complete with a boar's head over the fireplace.

 We boarded the bus for a short trip across town to the Moose Jaw Western Development Museum. WDM is actually one of four across Saskatchewan, all dedicated to different themes. Moose Jaw's theme is transportation, and it holds extensive displays of railway equipment, boats, cars, farm machinery, and aircraft. We were set loose unsupervised to explore the many interesting exhibits. After two hours, we returned to the bus for a bumpy ride back to the Travelodge Hotel in Regina.

Our Annual General Meeting took place on Thursday evening. The main business, besides election of directors, was the approval of a new set of by-laws. This was required to comply with changes to federal corporation law. While not compelling reading, the new by-laws will allow us to continue to operate the CAHS in the manner we prefer, instead of having to comply with default provisions in the Act that don't really suit our operation. We thank national directors Mat Joost and Rachel Lea Heide for their extensive work in reviewing the by-laws, and for working with our lawyers to ensure it was done by the deadline. The following directors were elected for 2014 - 2015 (officer positions in brackets): Gary Williams (president); Richard Goette (vice president); Rachel Lea Heide (treasurer); John Chalmers (membership secretary); Mat Joost; Richard Mayne; Colin Webster. The following chapter president directors were elected for 2014 - 2015 (officer positions in brackets): Jerry Vernon - Vancouver; Jim Bell - Manitoba (secretary); Kyle Huth - Ottawa; Richard Pickering - Montreal.

Friday and Saturday were taken up with speakers on a variety of aviation subjects, such as Bill Cameron's autobiographical "A Prairie Boy's War - from Air Cadet to a 38 Year Career with Canadian Pacific Airlines"; Russell Isinger's provocative talk, "The Avro Arrow - and why Dief made the Right Decision"; Richard Mayne's behind the scenes discussion of maintenance issues in "Keep Them Flying - the RCAF and the C-119 Flying Boxcar", and John Chalmers' review of this year's inductees to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, in "Who's Who in Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame". The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was a central focus, with John Higenbottam's fascinating examination of Relief Landing Fields of the BCATP; the history of the BCATP airfield at Caron, Saskatchewan by Joel From; and Bill Zuk's "Inside Story of 'For the Moment' a Feature Film on the BCATP". Friday evening was a free evening, for attendees to take in Regina's famous multicultural Mosaic Festival, or to perhaps rest up a bit after the hectic pace of the previous two and a half days.

The convention ended with our annual Awards Banquet on Saturday evening. After a delicious buffet dinner that loaded up our belt buckles, we listened to an inspiring presentation by Todd Lemieux, the former Chairman of the Board of Vintage Wings of Canada. Last summer, Vintage Wings embarked on a goal to fly five hundred air cadets, to inspire them to pursue their dreams. To do so, they flew aircraft from their collection to various sites across Canada, and took selected cadets on familiarisation flights in their Stearman, Cornell, Harvard, and Tiger Moth aircraft. We also presented awards to recognise the achievements of some of our dedicated members: the C. Don Long Award, for the best article published in Volume 51 of the Journal, was presented to Paddy Gardiner for his article "Mr Brown's Secret Trip", in Issue 2; the Mac MacIntyre Research Award was presented to Rachel Lea Heide for her article "Jealous Regard for Reputation" in Issue 4; the Douglas MacRitchie Memorial Award was presented to Tim DubĂ©, for his long and dedicated leadership of the CAHS Ottawa Chapter, and also to Bob Winsom, for his long and dedicated service to CAHS Toronto Chapter; and the William Wheeler Award was presented to Toronto Chapter member Gordon McNulty, for his dedicated service to the Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

The weekend concluded with an optional visit to the Regina Flying Club's open house on Sunday, where the CAHS had a promotional booth.

We thank all the organisers and participants for an excellent 2014 convention, and look forward to next year's convention, tentatively scheduled for June 2015 in Hamilton, Ontario.