January 27-29, 2017
How about this: past Challenger events at this cabin,
actually a log castle,
The Canadian Challenger Owners Association
invites Challenger owners and fans as well as all aviation enthusiasts
to congregate at Chateau Montebello
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous long ago evolved from a one day fly-in
Outside the Chateau skiplanes cavort in the air and on the frozen river.
The chateau fills up quickly - reserve your room now to avoid disappointment!
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our Theme for the 2017 Rendezvous
For more than a quarter century, sunshine or snowstorm, Challenger owners and fans have flocked together in winter wonderlands. This year attendees will range from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, from the South East to the Middle East. This year's theme celebrates the powerful Montebello Magic that makes the Challenger Winter Rendezvous so special and a must attend event.
The original venue in 1991 was a small cabin in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. This barely accommodated a handful of planes and a couple of handfuls of people. By 1995 the Challenger Winter Rendezvous as it became known was being held at the elegant Chateau Vaudreuil just west of Montreal. There it set a (then) world record for winter fly-ins with at least 33 skiplanes!
Starting in 1996 the gatherings alternated between Chateau Montebello, the world's largest log cabin, in even years and Chateau Vaudreuil in odd years. Montebello proved to be the group's favourite so it has hosted the event since 2002. Originally built as a private retreat for the privileged few, then for many years a jewel in CP Hotels crown, now it is Fairmont Le Ch‚teau Montebello!
The advantages of Chateau Montebello range from sheltered overnight tiedowns for the planes to five star treatment for the people. All this plus a relaxed, informal ambiance! Our current world record stands just shy of 100 skiplanes and around 300 people, with 193 seated at the banquet!
Challenger owners, wannabes and fans flock from near and far, by plane and by car, from across Canada and the United States and as far away as Sri Lanka. Challenger pilots range from those with tens of thousands of hours in everything imaginable to those still in the hopefullly someday soon stage.
This diversity is part of the appeal of the Challenger community Ė the common thread tying all these people together is their shared passion. The experienced members are generous with their wisdom and mentor the fledglings. Together they enjoy the versatility of this amazing aircraft, free from burdensome red tape and stifling air traffic control.
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous brings together people and planes for a fun and informative weekend of seminars, feasts and camaraderie. Everyone is welcome - Challenger owners, Challenger wannabes, all aviation enthusiasts.
A hundred or so skiplanes and some three hundred people are expected!
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 will be great food, warm fires and a plethora of activities, including dog sledding and swimming (outdoors and indoors respectively).
Come alone, bring a friend or arrive with your entire family, but
donít miss this
This event is organized by Major (Ret.) Claude "Crash" Roy, director of the Challenger Owners Association, with the help of Bryan Quickmire, President, National Ultralight Inc, the world's leading distributor of Challenger aircraft.
The Challenger Winter Rendezvous typically attracts several hundred people from across the length and breadth of Canada and the United States. In the middle of winter there have been nearly 100 skiplanes on the river outside the Chateau. This has become the premier aviation fly-in / drive-in of the winter!
Have a look through a few reports, pictures and videos from Rendezvous past!
2014 = 24th: EXPANDING HORIZONS
2013 = 23rd: 30 YEARS OF CHALLENGERS
2012 = 22nd: SNOW 'n FUN
2011 = 21st: WINTER FLYING - THEN & NOW
2010 = 20th: THE BIG TWO OH!
More From The Past
2009: Challenger beats Old Man Winter and Old Man Economy!
"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.
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, the fireplaces roaring and the ambiance magnifique. It's the perfect place for airplane buffs to bring spouses and children for a mid-winter escape.
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 pool,
There is a brand new spa, which is rated fabulous.
All that plus it's informal - jeans are acceptable throughout the hotel during the whole weekend.
There are no stuffed shirts here!
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 in the Chateau at Aux Chantignoles (fine French cuisine) or La Seigneurie (bistro fare) 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 five Saturday daytime sessions.
At 10:30 coffee and tea will be served outside the Quebec and Ontario rooms.
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire, owner of National Ultralight, will review the new Challenger Light Sport 'E' Series. Bryan will walk through the design process for the EL-65 and ES-65 models. He will show how they are positioned between the original Challenger II aircraft and the top of the line Challenger Light Sport 'X' Series XL-65 and XS-65. He will include a side by side comparison of features and contents.
Bryan will also discuss the switch in Challenger pricing from US Dollars to Canadian Dollars. He will explain how the new pricing stabilizes the exchange rate at 88 cents US, the level prior to the drop in oil prices in late 2014.
After lunch, from 14:00 to 16:30, there will be four sessions in two tracks.
At 15:00 coffee and tea will be served outside the Quebec and Ontario rooms.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, Claude Roy from Ottawa will give a safety oriented presentation with the catchy title: "Flying, a game you must win". Claude has been flying ultralights since 1984 and instructing since 1985. He has logged 5,600 hours in ultralights including many, many thousands of miles of cross-country. In the spirit of the Challenger community Claude is happy to share his personal experiences.
At 14:00 in the Quebec Room, Kathy Lubitz, President of the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC), will give an update on the state of ultralight flying in Canada. Kathy will highlight the main challenges we face and project what is in store over the near future for the ultralight community.
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Darwin Dzuba from Courtenay, Vancouver Island, will give a presentation with photgraphs on his experiences flying the mountain lakes of British Columbia in his amphib Challenger. Darwin's words and images will give a sense of the beauty and a sense of the practicality.
At 15:30 in the Ontario Room, Jim Bell from Winnipeg will give a presentation titled "GET FOUND! Help SAR help you". Jim will emphasize your best survival strategies if you have made an unscheduled out landing. Jim is the Manitoba & Nunavut director for the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA). He has owned a Challenger since 2005.
After the afternoon sessions there will be ample time before the banquet to head back down to the Challengers on the river 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. You may wear jeans or, if you wish, an informal tuxedo. The meal will be superb, the company will be A-list, the conversation will be stimulating.
As the diners feast the evening's periprandial entertainment will play on the big screen. Each year the Challenger Winter Rendezvous is attended by such highly talented aviation photographers as Jean-Pierre Bonin, Pierre Langlois, Daniel Villeneuve, Benoit Foisy, Bill Fawcett, Olivier Lacombe and Christine Fullgraf. Samples of their work and images submitted by attendees will be shown in a continuously running slideshow.
After the meal dignitaries in the audience will be introduced, the latest Challenger news will be recapped, and the slate of cross Canada events for the coming year will be announced. The intrepid flyers who flew in to the fly-in will be lauded. Awards will be presented for the Farthest Flown and Best Showplane. The recipients of the Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award will be honoured.
To finish the evening there will be a presentation by 2006 Vinet Award winner Dale Erhart from Comox on Vancouver Island. Dale is a retired air force, airline and corporate pilot. He assembled his Challenger from a kit about ten years ago and enjoys flying it on amphibious floats around the West Coast.
In the picture above is the Nieuport 11 replica which Dale recently built and now flies as part of the Vimy Flight group. The group plans to airlift their WWI fighters, a half dozen in number, to Vimy, France in April 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Dale will compare and contrast building and flying his Challenger and his Nieuport. He may even toss in comparisons with flying the CF-18, A340, and/or the Global Express!
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 Challenger Owners Association awards which convey accolades to worthy owners from their peers. The ceremony starts with recognition of the dedicated Challenger owners who flew in to the Rendezvous then the trophies for "Farthest Flown" and "Best Showplane" are presented.
Finally there is the presentation of the two highest honours of the COA - the Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the Dave Allan Memorial Award.
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 Dave Allan Memorial Award was founded in 2007 to be given each year to a person who has made a substantial contribution to inspire or empower the Challenger community. 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 always welcomed visitors to his workshop.
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, the granite shores of Lake Superior and the white sand beaches of Lake Huron. They have ventured east to Atlantic Canada and migrated south to the Gulf of Mexico!
2017 will be the 19th consecutive Annual Challenger Float Tour! Departure will be on Saturday 5 August 2017 for a leisurely three week trip. The flock will head south to the Gulf of Mexico in a "Return to Alabama" as they follow in the wake of the 2012 adventure...
The 2012 float tour, named Deep South Adventure, was a 5500 km jaunt down the west side of the Appalachians and Alleghenies to the Gulf of Mexico then across Florida to the Atlantic then up the eastern seaboard. Whew!
Participating pilots must have at the very minimum one full year of Challenger experience
plus one full season of flying on amphibious floats.
If you are interested in joining the flock for all or part of the itinerary
or if you would like to meet the group en route then get in touch with Claude Roy directly.
If you donít have the experience to do big trips then start small - fly a day trip to a local, but new to you, place. Today the back yard, tomorrow the world!
To whet your appetite here are recaps of a few past Challenger float tours...
2015 was the 17th Annual Challenger Float Tour and it headed westward! The goal was to attend the 9th Annual Western Challenger Rendezvous being held July 10 through 12 at the Wetaskiwin Airport near Edmonton.
This was a 4,000 mile round trip (6,400 km!) so three weeks were allocated to allow plenty of time for sightseeing en route. Four amphibious Challengers made the trip and arrived in Edmonton on schedule. Four Challengers times 4,000 miles each is 16,000 miles by ultralight. Over the 16,000 miles the only mechanical issues encountered were one flat tire and a starter problem!
The 15th annual adventure in 2013 was a pilgrimage to the Challenger's 30th Anniversary celebration at Erie Airpark near the Quad City factory in Moline, Illinois. To visualize the location look west and a little south from Chicago 250 km to the Mississippi River. This pilgrimage entailed a round trip by a flock of amphib Challengers from Quebec (3,200 km) and Ontario (2,300 km) plus a solo voyage by an amphib Challenger from Edmonton, Alberta (4,500 km).
The 2013 eastern flock closely tracked the 2008 edition when five Challengers on amphibious floats flew in formation up and over the Great Lakes then down the other side via Oshkosh to the Challenger 25th Anniversary celebration.
The 2008 adventure was featured in the January 2009 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.
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 was rendered at the 2010 banquet with many great pictures. Click the pic at left to view the December 2009 issue of COPA Flight. The cover has a terrific shot of a trio of these Challengers flying in formation along the St. Lawrence.
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! In 2010 a Challenger flock returned for the 10th anniversary.
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 on this page here.
Those fortunate enough to be owners coming by Challenger will find the flight easy and beautiful. As the GPS flies, the Chateau Montebello 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 tiedowns will be located in the protected harbour in front of the Chateau. Auto gas will be available.
Monitor radio frequencies 122.75 en route and
If you are coming by airline fly to Ottawa, ON (YOW) or Montreal, QC (YUL).
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, 392 rue Notre Dame, Montebello, Quebec
If you are coming by car (quel dommage!), Montebello is 80 km from Ottawa: cross to Gatineau and go east on 50 or 148. From Montreal it's 120 km: take the Trans Canada west to Hawkesbury, cross the bridge to Quebec and go west on 148. Alternatively from Montreal go north on 15 then west on 50. The Chateau is on the south side of 148, just west of the village at 392 rue Notre Dame.
The chateau fills up quickly - reserve your room now to avoid disappointment!
Make your room and banquet reservations NOW to avoid disappointment!
Contact the hotel directly for your room and contact Major Claude Roy directly
To reserve your room at the Chateau Montebello call Fairmont reservations 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.
To get our special group rate
tell the operator you are with the Challenger Owners group.
Ours is a VERY popular event so the Chateau gets fully booked VERY quickly. If you call and that is the case then there are a number of quite charming and economical alternatives in the picturesque village of Montebello nearby. Everyone who has stayed there has been pleased with the accommodations.
Listed below are just a few of the local inns and B&B's:
For still more choices of habitat click here to have Google Maps do a Search.
If you are silly enough to procrastinate even longer and even the alternates 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!
And now for banquet details - contact Claude Roy by January 20th to reserve!
At the Saturday evening banquet a sumptuous hot and cold buffet will be served and bar facilities will be available. The price is $60.00 per adult and $30.00 per child (under 12), including tax and tip.
The Chateau needs to know by Monday 23 January 2017 how many people they will be accommodating at the banquet. This is because before serve-off 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).
Accordingly Claude needs a firm commitment of your presence at the banquet one week prior to the event - ie Friday 20 January 2017. This confirmation should be in the form of a personal cheque sent to Claude at your earliest convenience and dated 20 January 2017 at the latest. The amount of your cheque should cover the full amount of your reserved seat(s).
If you have confirmed seats at the banquet and cannot attend for any reason, for example on the way to Montebello you are beamed aboard a flying saucer and dissected, then Claude's lovely wife Joan will attempt to sell your tickets at the door to the mob of standby hopefuls. In the past when this has occurred a full refund has always been issued. (Of course a refund is the least of your problems if you were just dissected by aliens!)
If you do not have a confirmed seat then you can still come on a standby basis in case someone with tickets is noshow. (See preceding paragraph for details.)
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.
The main switchboard number at the Chateau Montebello is 819-423-6341.
To learn and see more order our comprehensive information package and video!