Five Canadian amphib Challengers flew in formation to Illinois to join in the 25th Anniversary celebrations. Of course tripping Challengers rarely go to the destination in a straight line the shortest way - that's for airlines! Our goal is to maximize pleasure not minimize time in the air!
Four of the five Challengers flew over 2,000 miles on a great counterclockwise circle around the Great Lakes. Erie Airpark in Illinois is conveniently located about halfway round the the circle. Pilots Patrick Vinet from Montreal and Claude Roy from Ottawa rendezvoused north of Toronto with Henry McKinlay from Honey Harbour and Keith Robinson from Go Home Lake. The fifth Challenger departed Edenvale to rendezvous with the four on Georgian Bay but after the fly-in instead of heading back east with the four it headed west all by itself!
Originally I had planned to fly my own Challenger C-FXSL with the flock over the full circle. However we had a Challenger C-IROC built in Eastern Ontario that needed to get to its new home at Wetaskiwin near Edmonton, Alberta. Accordingly I flew IROC with the group of four from Georgian Bay up and over the lakes and down the other side to Illinois. Mike and Tracy Hughes of Challenger West met us in Illinois and Mike piloted IROC the remaining 1,700 miles to Alberta. In total C-IROC logged 2,700 miles!
Our departure from southern Georgian Bay was delayed a day and a half by hurricane Ike. Otherwise we had no significant weather issues except for high winds every day enroute. The most memorable surface winds were when our five amphib Challengers refuelled in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. The METAR and TAF were both claiming 29 mph right across the runway. I don't think it was quite that much but it was certainly over 20 mph. We managed the landing without incident but we took the easy way out - takeoff was from a taxiway aligned into the wind. The taxiway was a thousand feet long and we were off in at most a couple hundred feet!
The January 2009 issue of COPA Flight has an account and pictures written by Claude Roy and edited by Henry McKinlay with inputs from the rest of our group. Click here to enjoy it!