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 Jan 30 to Feb 1, 2009
Our theme for 2009 is
One Hundred Years of Canadian Ultralights
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:
2008: Report and
Great Pictures - Even a Video!
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 will kick off Friday at sunset (or earlier!) when the attendees will gravitate to the lobby bar for libations and laughter around the magnificent three-story six-sided granite firplace. This is an excellent opportunity for people new to the Challenger community to meet other enthusiasts - name badges will be issued and introductions made. Once appetites are whetted the group disperses for dinner. Most dine at Aux Chantignoles (fine French cuisine) or La Seigneurie (bistro fare) in the Chateau while a few stroll into the nearby village where the local plates are excellent.
On Saturday morning the local flyers and drivers start arriving around 9 or 10 and by lunch time most are there. The long distance flyers and drivers plus the true enthusiasts usually arrive on Friday or even Thursday. Lucky them! Saturday before lunch is the best time to watch Challengers arriving from all directions.
All through the day people wander down to congregate on the ice in front of the Chateau chatting and looking over the Challengers with an eye to casting their ballot for "Best Showplane". Other popular spots to mingle include the lobby around the fireplace in comfy chairs and at the scrumptious buffet luncheon.
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 dealers Bill Dawes of Ottawa and Mike and Tracy Hughes of Edmonton 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 Ontario Room, Mike and Tracy Hughes of Challenger West in Alberta, will "show and tell" about flying their newly acquired Challenger C-IROC all the way home to Edmonton from the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebrations in Illinois.
At 14:00 in the Quebec Room, Kathy Lubitz, President of the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), will inform us of the very latest in the ultralight world, including the reform of all Canadian aircraft categories and the ongoing airspace reviews. Frank Hofmann, in his dual role of Eastern Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), and Canadian Representative at the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), will give us his thoughts on trends in aviation.
At 15:30 after a refreshment break there will be two more concurrent sessions. In the Quebec Room, Patrick Gilligan, Vice President of Operations at COPA, will review the new 406 mHz Emergency Location Transmitters and Personal Locator Beacons as well as the new technology SPOT satellite tracking service.
At 15:30 in the Ontario Room, LCol (Ret.) Carl Mills, originally from London, ON, and now living in Toronto, will give us a presentation on the Silver Dart to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada in February 1909.
After the afternoon sessions there will be ample time before the banquet to head back down to the Challengers on the ice or to mingle in the lobby.
Saturday evening the banquet will be held in the Chateau's private dining hall so we can talk the Challenger talk and walk the Challenger walk. Dress is casual - wear jeans if you wish or an informal tuxedo. The meal will be superb, the company will be stimulating. Awards will be presented and future Challenger events such as the annual summer Float Tour will be discussed.
The post-feast presentation will be a slide show narrated by Patrick Vinet, Claude Roy, Henry McKinlay, Keith Robinson and Bryan Quickmire about their pilgrimage flying five Challengers on amphibious floats in formation around the Great Lakes to the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebrations in Illinois. The images and anecdotes in addition to being entertaining will give the audience a good sense of the adventure and camaraderie to be enjoyed on such voyages.
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 2008 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 Rob Mathers for his flight to Montebello from Windsor, Ontario. Patrick Caron, who flew from Sherbrooke, Quebec, won the "Best Show Plane" Award for his beautiful 2002 Challenger II.
The Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was founded 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 2008 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was bestowed upon Larry Whittaker of Kugluktuk in Nunavut. Major health issues delayed Larry from taking delivery of his new Challenger built by Dave Griffth near Montreal. After a long recuperation Larry airlined to Montreal and then as his checkout in type he flew on wheels over 3,000 km west to Edmonton with Bruce Brown mentoring in the back seat. Larry then continued solo on wheel/skis over 1,600 km more - north to Kugluktuk on the shore of the Arctic Ocean. The ferry flight home totalled just about 5,000 km - not bad for a beginner! Larry gives new perspectives to southern flyers via his eloquent blog of his experiences operating an ultralight above the Arctic Circle.
The Dave Allan Memorial Award was founded in 2007 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 2008 Dave Allan Memorial Award was presented to Jean-Claude Lachance and Pauline Labrecque of Turbulence Aviation. Over the past decade Jean-Claude and Pauline designed, developed, manufactured and marketed numerous products specific to Challengers. Their products range from the practical (like wheel/skis) to the luxurious (like custom interiors). The Turbulence products are creatively conceived, superbly crafted and fully supported. Jean-Claude and Pauline have enhanced the utility and pleasure derived by Challenger owners worldwide. This was evidenced by the resounding applause from the gathering!
Click here for the list of past award winners - it makes very interesting reading!
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.
On the 2008 float tour five Challengers on amphibious floats flew in formation around the Great Lakes to the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebrations in Illinois. Images and anecdotes will be presented at the Saturday evening banquet to give a sense of the adventure and camaraderie to be enjoyed on such voyages. This adventure will be featured in the issue of COPA Flight published just before the Rendezvous to give COPA's 20,000 readers a taste of the unique world of flight experienced by our Challenger community. Click here for a report on the 25th anniversary fly-in.
At the banquet we will discuss plans for our 2009 float flying adventure
to commemorate the very beginnings of Canadian ultralight aviation one
hundred years ago. In February 1909 the Silver Dart flew off the ice on
Bras d'Or Lake at Baddeck, Nova Scotia to make Canada's first powered heavier-than-air
flight. Alexander Graham Bell led the design team and J.A.D McCurdy was
Claude Roy will organize a two-week float flying adventure leading a flock of amphib Challengers from Ottawa to Baddeck to honour the Silver Dart. This adventure will begin Saturday August 15, 2009 at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, Ontario and then stretch over 2,000 miles to Baddeck, Nova Scotia. There the flock will respectfully dip their floats in Bras d'Or Lake and take time to visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.
This particular adventure requires all participating pilots to have one full year of Challenger experience plus one full season of float flying. Participants will take lots of pictures and will subsequently prepare a feature presentation of their flying adventure to be given at the 2010 Winter Rendezvous.
If you are interested to join the flock for all or part of the itinerary or to meet the group enroute then get in touch with Claude directly. His contact info is below.
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 the destination was the birthplace of aviation, the sand dunes of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The flock crossed 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 2002 instead of the east coast of the United States it was the east coast of Canada - Prince Edward Island - and in 2001 the east coat of Lake Huron.
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 which is 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
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.
Make your hotel and banquet reservations NOW
to avoid disappointment!
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. To get our special rate of $180 tell the operator you are with the Challenger Owners group. If all the rooms in the group's block are taken then you can still reserve at the regular rate on a space available basis. All rooms have lots of character and many have two double beds.
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 26th the hotel needs to know the exact number of people who will be attending. Accordingly, by Friday January 23rd 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 23, 2009 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 23rd 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
Members of the Challenger Owners Association without email receive a letter from Claude Roy giving details of plans for the upcoming Winter Rendezvous and summarizing the highlights of the previous year. Click here, en français ici.
The main switchboard number at the Chateau Montebello is 819-423-6341.
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