What would motivate pilots to fly
long distances aboard ski-equipped ultralights in the middle of the winter
to a riverside log cabin? Why would aficionados drive long distances to
that same log cabin? How about this: past fly-ins at this cabin, actually
a log castle, have attracted 36 Challengers on skis and over 200 people!
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
cordially invites all Challenger owners and fans to congregate at Chateau
Montebello on January 25-27, 2008
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is
"Montebello is worth the experience for any wannabe. My first trip there by car years ago set the path even though I didn't realize it at the time. Wandering around on the snow covered river among a buzz of Challengers and owners I got the sense of a real close group. Everyone shared information willingly and was proud as punch to show you their airplane. Oh how I longed for the day this would be me showing off my Challenger!" -- John Woudstra, Owner.
This skiplane fly-in is a wonderful opportunity to look at Challengers close up, exchange information, tell flying tales and socialize with fellow owners and enthusiasts. There'll be great food, warm fires and a plethora of activities, including dog sledding and swimming (outdoors and indoors respectively).
The Chateau Montebello, located on the Ottawa River mid way between Ottawa and Montreal, is the world's largest and most spectacular log cabin. It is known around the globe - for good reason: the food is gourmet, the rooms luxurious and the ambiance magnifique. It's a great place for airplane buffs to bring spouses and children for a mid-winter escape from cabin fever.
36 Challengers and well over 200 aficionados have attended past Rendezvous!
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous typically attracts over 200 attendees from across the length and breadth of Canada as well as from the USA. In the middle of winter there have been 36 Challengers on skis parked together outside! The Rendezvous has become the premier fly-in / drive-in of the Canadian winter.
Refresh your memory with pictures and reports from Rendezvous past:
Account and Pictures of the Splash-in / Ski-in
Come alone, bring a friend or arrive with your entire family, but donít miss this unique weekend of winter fun and camaraderie. Snow, rain or shine, it's on!
Make your hotel and banquet reservations
NOW to avoid disappointment!
Full details appear below - scroll through it all or click the headings to go direct.
The organizer of this event is Major Claude Roy, the director of the Canadian Challenger Owners Association. Claude would be pleased to answer your questions or offer assistance. His contact info is at the end below.
The Chateau Montebello is the world's largest and most spectacular log cabin. Built in 1930 from 10,000 red cedar logs, the star-shaped structure was constructed in a mere three months by 800 log crafters armed only with axes and scribers. Three crews worked 24 hours a day in overlapping shifts! Their efforts seem to have paid off - Chateau Montebello is known around the globe and has hosted meetings of world leaders, including the 1981 G-7.
Now, every conceivable form of outdoor winter activity is offered, including dog sledding! For less hardy souls, there is an indoor Olympic-size pool and spa. The food is gourmet, the rooms luxurious and the ambiance magnifique.
Jeans are quite acceptable throughout the hotel during the whole weekend.
The Challenger Owners Association is always fortunate to be honoured by the attendance of distinguished guests at its events. Past dignitaries include (in alphabetical order, by first name since this is an informal gathering):
-- Arlo Speer - Director, Recreational Aviation, Transport Canada
The Rendezvous kicks off Friday evening with a reception from 6 to 8 pm. This started as a small gathering hosted by Faye and Gord Ekstrom and it grew - last year more than 80 people came! Whether you are a long time owner or a brand new wannabe come join us for libations and laughter before dinner!
The fly-in begins officially on Saturday morning. Local flyers and drivers start arriving around 9 or 10 and by lunch time most are there. The long distance flyers and true enthusiasts often arrive on Friday or even Thursday. Lucky them!
Each day people congregate on the ice in front of the Chateau to chat and look over the Challengers with an eye to casting their ballot for "Best Showplane". Other popular spots to gather include the scrumptious buffet lunch as well as the magnificent fireplace in the lobby.
This Rendezvous will feature lots of Saturday sessions of interest to all.
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire, Challenger distributor for Canada, along with Challenger dealers Bill Dawes, Louis Pouliot and Mike Hughes will provide an update on Challenger developments and will field questions on all aspects of owning and operating the Challenger. This session is sponsored by Bill Dawes of Challenger Ottawa. Refreshments will be served.
At 14:00 there will be two concurrent sessions. In the Quebec Room, Ms. Oonagh Elliott, Inspector, Aviation Enforcement, Ontario Region, Transport Canada, will let us in on a few secrets about staying away from the long arm of the law. In the Ontario Room, Mr. Marcel Pinon, Service Level Manager, Nav Canada Headquarters, will give us a slide presentation on the services offered by Nav Canada and on an important Service Level Study concerning the Toronto-Montreal corridor. A refreshment break will follow.
At 15:30 Ms. Kathy Lubitz, President, Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), will inform us of the very latest in the ultralight world, including the ongoing reform of all Canadian aircraft categories. As well, tradition willing, Mr. Frank Hofmann, in his dual role of Eastern Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), and Canadian Representative, International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), will give us his thoughts on the latest trends in the world of aviation.
After the afternoon sessions there will be ample time before the banquet for mingling and beverages in comfy chairs around the fireplace in the lobby.
Saturday evening the banquet will be held in a private dining hall so we can talk the Challenger talk and walk the Challenger walk. Dress is informal - wear jeans if you wish. Attendance is typically two hundred people who all enjoy the superb meal and excellent company. Awards will be presented and future Challenger events such as the annual summer Float Tour will be discussed.
This year's post-feast presentation will be a slide show by Henry McKinlay, Andy Ricketts, Keith Robinson and Claude Roy, about their 4-ship float flying expedition "Around Algonquin Park" this past summer. This adventure was featured in the December 2007 issue of COPA Flight - the text and numerous photos gave COPA's 20,000 readers a taste of the unique world of flight enjoyed by our Challenger community. This presentation will expand on the voyage with numerous images and anecdotes.
On Sunday after partaking of the Chateau's top notch buffet breakfast there will be much hustle and bustle as the flyers prepare their Challengers for the return home. For the more local participants there will be an optional group fly/drive to the renowned Willow Inn near Montreal to partake of their excellent fare. Come if your figure dares!
The Saturday night banquet is the venue for presentation of the Maurice Vinet Memorial Award, the Dave Allan Memorial Award and the awards for "Farthest Flown" and "Best Showplane".
The 2007 ceremony started with recognition of the many Challenger owners who flew in to the Rendezvous in spite of the brilliant sun, clear blue sky and light winds. ;) Following this was the presentation of the Challenger Owners Association trophies to convey accolades to worthy owners from their peers.
The winner of the "Farthest Flown" Award was Dave Scott for his flight from Baldwin, Ontario to Montebello. Dave was clever enough to make the trip on Thursday in perfect conditions. The rest of the flyers from points west were shut out by weather on Friday and had to pilot their cars! When the votes were counted Dave also nabbed the "Best Show Plane" Award. Good show Dave!
2007 marked the founding of the Dave Allan Memorial Award to be given each year to a member of the Challenger community who has made a substantial contribution of a technical nature. Dave Allan passed away from cancer in 2006. Dave was an extremely talented and knowledgeable Challenger builder and inspector. He gave freely of his time to owners across Canada who called for advice and he welcomed visitors to his workshop.
The inaugural recipient of the Dave Allan Memorial Award was Dave Griffith of Katevale, QC. Dave Griffith has been a member of the Challenger community for close to the full quarter century. In that time he has become the master builder of the master builders with an impressive total of 45 Challengers assembled! Dave's craftsmanship is the pride of the owners of his Challengers.
The Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was founded by National Ultralight Inc in 2001 to honour the late Maurice Vinet who passed away from cancer in 2000. Maurice's company Puddlejumper Floats opened up new realms of pleasure for Challenger owners worldwide and is now run by his son Patrick Vinet. The Vinet Award is presented to a Challenger pilot who exemplifies Maurice's passion for flight.
The 2007 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Kris Falk of Terrace, BC. Kris abandoned general aviation as well as his day job several years ago to focus on the Challenger life style. Kris now makes his living flying and instructing in Challengers as well as building and inspecting them for others. He has twice flown Challengers from Montreal to Edmonton! Follow Kris on one of those journeys in The Adventures Of One Jelly Bean.
The 2006 Vinet award went to Dale Erhart of Comox, BC. Dale is an A-340 airline pilot, retired CF-18 fighter pilot and extremely enthusiastic Challenger owner. Earlier in the afternoon he had given an interesting and informative session on building his Challenger and flying it on floats on the West Coast. In a short time Dale has become a reservoir of knowledge and experience as well as a sparkplug to ignite the growth of the Challenger on the West Coast.
In 2006 a Special Vinet Award was given to Ian Coristine who had retired from National Ultralight, the Canadian distributor of the Challenger. Ian was a pioneer in the ultralight movement in the late seventies and he spearheaded the introduction of the Challenger in Canada in the eighties. His long distance flights plus his articles, photographs and video have inspired countless others to join our world.
The 2005 Vinet Award was given to Harold Young of St. John's, Newfoundland. Harold built his Challenger over the course of a single winter and produced a fine aircraft that is truly a work of art. He has become a focal point for Challenger owners in Newfoundland, providing support and encouragement for the growing flock. Harold and his Challenger are somewhat unique in that neither has ever flown off land - only from the water on floats! Harold's Challenger II C-IYNG appears in our Challenger Gallery. Click here to view.
In 2005 a Special Vinet Award was presented to Bruce Brown of St.
The 2004 Vinet Award went to Doug and Denise Gagnon of Nanoose Bay, BC. Doug has 28,000 hours of air force and airline time and is presently a Boeing 777 captain. Denise has 28 hours and is working on her Ultralight Pilot Permit! In September 2003 the Gagnon's flew their Challenger from Barrie, Ontario (near Toronto) to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island - 4,000 km! See Seven League Boots for a brief account of their voyage. The Gagnon's Challenger II C-IDDG appears in our Challenger Gallery. Click here to view.
The 2003 Maurice Vinet Award was presented to Dr. Tom Reavell who says he looks to the future with enthusiasm and excitement for the wonderful experiences which await him, the sights that are now beyond his imagination, and the people he will have the opportunity to meet simply because he flies. We'll second that emotion!
The 2002 award went to Gord Ekstrom who demonstrates a passion for Challenger flying, building and socializing that sets an example for us all. Gord's exquisite craftsmanship has to be seen to be believed - his Challenger has a special mount for his fly fishing rod! Gord's Challenger appeared on the cover of the March 2004 COPA Flight.
The inaugural 2001 award was presented by Maurice's sons Patrick and Andre to the very deserving Major Claude Roy. Claude founded the Canadian Challenger Owners Association over a decade ago and has shepherded it to become the most active and respected in recreational aviation. Claude has logged countless miles in his Challenger on floats and skis, including a flight from Ottawa to James Bay - in the middle of winter!
You may recall that in 1999 an intrepid group of voyageurs made an eight day, 2,000 km trip in their amphibious Challengers. (See Float Flying Adventure.)
That was the first of what has turned out to be the Annual Challenger Float Tour. Since then Challengers have explored the majestic fjords of the Saguenay Region, the granite rocks of Georgian Bay and the miles long sand beaches of Lake Huron.
At the banquet we will discuss plans for our 2008 flying adventure which will be to Illinois to help Quad City celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Challenger on September 20-21, 2008. Dubbed the "History Tour", this adventure will stretch over 2,400 statute miles and along the way out and back we will visit air museums in Canada and the United States.
Departing from the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, ON, on the way to Moline, we will visit air museums like the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum in Trenton, ON, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON, and the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, MI. On the way back, we will go to the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, the Piper Aircraft Memorial Museum in Lock Haven, PA, and the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY.
In 2007 the two-week float flying adventure drew a big counter-clockwise circle around Algonquin Park, in Central Ontario. The view was classic Canadian Shield scenery in the Temagami, Killarney, Muskoka and Haliburton regions. This adventure was featured in the December 2007 issue of COPA Flight.
The 2006 Challenger Summer Float Tour, dubbed "Le grand tour du Québec", visited such exotic spots in Northern Quebec as St-Bruno-de Guigues, Rouyn, Val d'Or, Senneterre, Clova, Parent, Wetomaci, La Tuque, Lac-à-Jim and Canadian Forces Base Bagotville. The 2005 voyage was to the north shore of the world's largest inland sea - Lake Superior!
In August 2004 another float flying adventure happened, this one to Quebec's St-Lawrence North Shore as far as Natashquan. Claude Roy, Andre Girard and Tom Reavell visited enchanting places like Charlevoix, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Iles, the Mingan Archipelago and one of the world's most exclusive deer preserve: Anticosti Island.
The 5th annual floatplane adventure took place in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the first heavier-than-air flight by the Wright Brothers. On this momentous occasion, Major Roy organized a two-week float flying adventure to visit the birthplace of aviation, the sand dunes of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. Claude along with Tom Reavell and Henry McKinlay made the pilgrimage, tagged "Centennial Flight 2003", crossing the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. On the way back, the States of Delaware and New Jersey were also visited.
In August 2000 a group of Challengers became the first Canadian ultralights to attend Oshkosh with its 10,000+ aircraft and nearly 1 million people! This marked the opening of the United States border to Canadian ultralight aircraft and pilots. In a historic role, the Canadian Challenger Owners Association spearheaded the regulatory changes to permit such cross-border flights. Accolades were received from the EAA and COPA as well as from the FAA and Transport Canada!
Again this year, groups of owners of ski-equipped Challengers are planning to fly in formation to the Challenger meet, adjusting their itineraries to allow other Challengers to join up en route. We would like to extend an invitation to other Challenger owners to join them and participate in an aerial odyssey.
Join a flock, come solo or, better still, organize a formation from your local area! The aerial odyssey is a wonderful opportunity to put some lasting memories in your logbook. Earmark a few days of your vacation backlog and come along! Of course flight plans are subject to weather so leave slack in your schedule!
This is true adventure - a great start to your plan to expand the horizon!
For more information or to join up with a group or form one yourself contact Major Roy at the email address or phone number given at the end of this page.
Those fortunate enough to be owners coming by Challenger will find the flight easy and beautiful. As the GPS flies, the Chateau is at N45 39 / W74 57. This is just west of the village of Montebello, Quebec, on the north shore of the Ottawa River, an endless runway for Challengers on skis. Secure tie-downs will be located in the protected harbour in front of the hotel. Auto gas will be available.
Monitor radio frequencies 122.75 enroute and 123.2 within 5 nm of the Chateau Montebello.
If you're coming by car (quel dommage!), Montebello is 80 km from Ottawa: cross to Hull and go east on 148. From Montreal it's 120 km: take the Trans Canada west to Hawkesbury, cross the bridge to Quebec and go west on 148. The Chateau is on the south side of 148, just west of the village of Montebello.
You must reserve your room directly with the hotel (see below) and your seat(s) at the banquet directly with Major Claude Roy (see below and Contacts).
To reserve your room at the Chateau Montebello call the reservation line at 1-800-441-1414 or contact the chateau directly at 819-423-6341.
Ours is a VERY popular event so the Chateau does tend to get fully booked VERY quickly. If you call and that is the case then there are a number of quite charming alternatives in the picturesque village of Montebello nearby. Typically there are well over 200 attendees so inevitably many stay in the village and all have been pleased with the accommodations.
Click below for information on these inns and B&B's:
Royal William Montebello 819-423-0001 / 1-877-423-0001
If you are silly enough to procrastinate even longer and even those alternatives are sold out then contact Major Roy for assistance. His email and phone info appears at the end of this page. Do this soon or bring a tent and sleeping bag!
At the Saturday evening banquet a sumptuous hot-cold buffet will be served and bar facilities will be available. The price is $50.00 per adult and $25.00 per child (under 12), including tax and tip.
By Monday January 21st the hotel needs to know the exact number of people who will be attending. Accordingly, by Friday January 18th Major Roy requires confirmation of your presence at the banquet. His email, phone and mailing address are under Contacts. Your confirmation must include a personal cheque sent to him and dated January 18, 2007 at the latest. The amount should cover the full amount of your reserved seat(s). If there is any doubt about your cheque arriving by the 18th let Claude know by email or phone.
If for any reason somebody does not show up for the banquet, Major Roy will do his utmost to sell their seat(s) at the door. So far, last-minute takers for the empty seats have always been found and nobody has lost their deposit.
Another warning for procrastinators: the banquet has a maximum capacity of 200 people for food service - if it fills up (and it inevitably does) then you will have to dine in the Chateau's main restaurant (not the worst fate imaginable!) and then rejoin the group around 9 pm for the official program.
OFFICIAL CHALLENGER OWNERS ASSOCIATION LETTERS
Canadian members of the Challenger Owners Association receive an annual letter reviewing happenings in the Canadian Challenger community and giving details of plans for the coming year. Click here, en français ici, for this year's.
The main switchboard number at the Chateau Montebello is 819-423-6341.
To learn and see more order our comprehensive information package and video!