What would motivate pilots to fly
long distances aboard ultralights on skis 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 hosted 36 Challengers and over 200 people!
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
invites Challenger owners and fans as well as all aviation enthusiasts
to congregate at Chateau Montebello
Our theme for 2010 is
The Big Two Oh!
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:
spirit beats Old Man Winter and Old Man Economy!
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 fireplace. 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, will discuss recent activities and future plans. Bill Dawes of Challenger Ottawa and Pierre Brisson of Ultralight Solutions will describe their merger to provide a complete sales and service centre for Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Mike and Tracy Hughes from Edmonton will fill the attendees in on happenings at Challenger West. The presenters will field questions on all aspects of owning and operating Challengers. This session is sponsored by Challenger Ottawa / Ultralight Solutions. Refreshments will be served.
At 14:00 there will be two concurrent sessions. In the Quebec Room, Nav Canada will update us on the national airspace policy and its effect on the Windsor-Toronto-Montreal corridor including the Ottawa area. They will also elaborate upon the recent changes to Class E airspace in Ontario which have imposed a lower ceiling on the operation of Basic Ultralights.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, Randy Shipclark from Aero Kinetics in Carleton Place, ON, will offer insights on getting the maximum reliability from the Rotax engines which power virtually all ultralights. Rotax engines are capable of many years of trouble free operation and Randy will explain how proper maintenance and operation can help owners achieve this potential.
At 15:30, after a refreshment break, there will be two more concurrent sessions. In the Ontario Room, Gord Ekstrom, will do a "show and tell" about flying his Challenger 5,000 km return from Ottawa to Sun n' Fun in Lakeland, Florida. Gord flew in a flight of two Challengers alongside friend André Girard. Fellow Canadian Larry Woods, who scooted south in some 240 kt bulletplane, wrote in the July 2009 issue of COPA Flight: "For years I have been dazzled by Canadian Challenger pilots who make the trek to Sun'n'Fun, traversing a distance that would deter a sex-driven Canada Goose in migration season!"
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Kathy Lubitz, President, Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), will inform attendees of the latest in the ultralight world, including short and long term directions in Canadian Air Regulations. Mr. 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 join Kathy and will give his thoughts on the latest trends in personal aviation around the world.
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 Andre Girard, Mike Prescott, Claude Roy and Patrick Vinet about their float flying voyage to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, in the summer of 2009. Theirs was a pilgrimage to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1909 flight of the Silver Dart, the first powered flight in Canada. 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. Come learn what it's like to be chased out of town by a hurricane!
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 2009 ceremony started with recognition of the dedicated Challenger owners who flew in to the Rendezvous in spite of the ratty weather Thursday and Friday and the ratty forecast for Sunday.
Following this was the presentation of the Challenger Owners Association trophies to convey accolades to worthy owners from their peers.
Brent Thompson of Orillia, ON, went home a rare double award winner. He won the "Farthest Flown" Award for his solo flight of about 1,000 km return. As icing on the cake, as opposed to on the wings, Brent won the "Best Show Plane" Award for C-IXTX, his beautiful red and white 2005 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 2009 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award went to Mike and Tracy Hughes of Edmonton, Alberta who run Challenger West. Mike and Tracy have attended every Winter Rendezvous since ordering their first kit in November 2004. They fly hers and his Challengers and are assembling another. In addition to flying all over Alberta they made an epic Challenger voyage from southern Illinois to Edmonton. They also own a Cessna 182 which they say doesn't get much air time since they prefer to be aloft in their Challengers! Mike and Tracy had a Challenger on display at the 2005 COPA Annual Convention at Wetaskiwin and they have organized and hosted the Western Challenger Owners Rendezvous every year since 2007. It's hard to imagine more passion!
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 2009 Dave Allan Memorial Award was presented to Greg Klemp Sr of Sheer Technologies. Greg designed, tested and perfected the 582 engine cooling and cabin heating systems together with the mounts that make feasible widespread use of this more powerful engine in Challengers. The additional 30% thrust afforded by the 582 puts sprightly performance back into Challengers operating in trying conditions with floats, heavy loads and/or high density altitudes. The 582 Challenger has achieved landslide popularity since its introduction in Canada in 2005 and the pilots owe Greg a debt of gratitude!
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.
In 2003 the Challenger tour went south to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to pay respects to the Wright Brothers on the 100th anniversary of the first sustained heavier-than-air powered flight. In 2009 it was only fitting that the tour should head east to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada. An account of this pilgrimage will be rendered at the 2010 banquet, complete with great pictures. Click the pic at left to have a look at the December 2009 issue of COPA Flight. The cover has a terrific shot of a trio of these Challengers flying in close formation along the shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The front page of Section B and the following three pages will whet your appetite for what is to come at the banquet!
At the banquet we will discuss plans for our 2010 amphibious voyage. Claude Roy will organize a two-week tour leading a flock of amphib Challengers to the great AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the very first time Canadian ultralights were authorized to fly to the United States. Dubbed "Return to Oshkosh", this adventure will land at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) Sunday 25 July 2010, one day prior to the official opening of the event which will run from 26 July to 1 August. This 2,000 sm voyage will depart on Monday 19 July 2010 from the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa.
This 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 prepare a feature presentation of their flying adventure to be given at the 2011 Rendezvous.
If you are interested to join the flock for all or part of the itinerary or to meet the group en route then get in touch with Claude directly. His contact info is below.
Following are overviews of a few of the past Challenger float tours!
On the 2008 float tour five Challengers on amphibious floats flew in formation around the Great Lakes to the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebrations in southern Illinois. This adventure was featured in the January 2009 issue of COPA Flight which gave COPA's 20,000 readers a taste of the unique world of flight experienced by our Challenger community - the adventure and camaraderie to be enjoyed on such voyages. Click here to read the article on the 25th anniversary fly-in.
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 en route 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. The address is 392 rue Notre Dame.
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 call the chateau direct at 819-423-6341. All rooms have much 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 and cold buffet will be served and bar facilities will be available. The price is $55.00 per adult and $27.50 per child (under 12), including tax and tip.
The deadline for confirmed seats at the banquet was Monday 18 January 2010 since the Chateau needs to know how many people they are accommodating. Tableau Canada requires chefs to calculate the C of G (Centre of Gastronomy) to ensure they are within limits on the W&B (Waist and Belt).
If you do not have a confirmed seat then you can still come on a standby basis since there's always a few people with tickets who end up getting caught in traffic or otherwise missing the banquet.
If you do not get on board the banquet standby then you can dine in the Chateau's main restaurant or bistro (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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