Jan. 30 - Feb. 1, 2015
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.
For Challenger owners the runway, river, lake or field is a gateway
Our Theme for the 2015 Rendezvous
A QUARTER CENTURY OF
A quarter century ago, on a frigid winter weekend, one handful of Challenger owners flew and another handful drove to a bachelor cabin on Lake Manitou in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. The agenda called for spaghetti, sleepover and socializing. Thus the Challenger Winter Rendezvous was born!
From that modest beginning the Challenger Winter Rendezvous has been held, sunshine or snowstorm, every year for twenty-five years! It quickly outgrew Maurice Patton's cottage and by 1995 it was being held at the elegant Chateau Vaudreuil just off the western tip of the Island of Montreal. There it set a world record for a skiplane fly-in with no less than 33 skiplanes in attendance!
For a few years the Challenger Winter Rendezvous alternated between Chateau Vaudreuil in the odd years and Chateau Montebello in the even years. Chateau Montebello, the world's largest log cabin, proved to be the group's favourite. Originally built as a private retreat for the privileged few, then for many years a jewel in the crown of CP Hotels, now it is Fairmont Le Château Montebello!
Since 2002 all the Challenger Winter Rendezvous have been held here. The advantages of Chateau Montebello range from sheletered overnight parking 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 193 people seated at the banquet!
Challenger owners, wannabes and fans come 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 – 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 regulations 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. Join us at our 25th!
Several hundred people and a hundred or so skiplanes 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'll 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
don’t 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., Canadian Distributor of the Challenger line of 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 reports, pictures and videos from Rendezvous past!
2014: 24th Annual = EXPANDING HORIZONS
2013: 23rd Annual = 30 YEARS OF CHALLENGERS
2012: 22nd Annual = SNOW 'n FUN
2011: 21st Annual = WINTER FLYING - THEN & NOW
2010: 20th Annual = 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. Refreshments will be served at 10:30 and again at 15:00 courtesy of National Ultralight. Registration, which is free, is in the main lobby and will be easy to find!
At 11:00 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire, owner of National Ultralight, will present "Goodbye E6B - Hello Digital Flight Planning & Management".
Today's portable devices with software displaying sectional maps make preflight planning a breeze. Rubberbanding allows rapid exploration of alternate routes and stops plus effortless evaluation of doglegs and detours.
These capabilities are also available in flight along with an impressive array of weather information from ground based and satellite based sources. Not long ago no one would have dared imagine ultralights with weather radar!
Bryan will demonstrate flight planning and management using a variety of devices and applications. The concepts of strategic versus tactical weather decision making will be expanded. Questions and discussion will be welcome.
After lunch there will be four sessions in two parallel tracks.
At 14:00 in the Ontario Room, John Baker from Oshawa, Ontario, an Independent Rotax Maintenance Technician (IRMT), will offer his expert views on the care and feeding of Rotax engines. Rotax engines are by far the most popular not just in Challengers but in all of the advanced ultralight and light sport aircraft sector. John's insights will help attendees understand how proper maintenance and operation can help owners experience years of trouble-free enjoyment.
At 14:00 in the Quebec Room, Luc Vaillancourt from Ottawa, Ontario, will give an informative presentation on how to survive should you ever go down in the woods in your aircraft. A bush pilot for over 40 years, Luc taught survival and orienteering, is an Instructor/Examiner with the Canadian Ski Patrol and is a past member of the Sûreté du Québec (QPP) Mountain Rescue Team.
At 15:30, after a refreshment break, there will be two more concurrent sessions.
At 15:30 in the Ontario Room, Vincent Landreville from Ottawa, Ontario, an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) as well as a Challenger owner, will be talking about aircraft maintenance logs, their importance and how to fill them in properly. Advanced Ultralights are required to have a written record proving that they have followed the Manufacturer Specified Maintenance Program. While there is no mandatory format for these logs it makes sense for many reasons to keep legible, logical records.
At 15:30 in the Quebec Room, Bryan Quickmire from National Ultralight will host a panel of Challenger owners who are presently assembling XL-65 kits. All are first timers who will share with the audience their triumphs and their challenges. They will also offer tips and techniques for everything from organizing the workshop to managing time to fabricing the airframe.
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 - wear jeans if you wish or 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, Challenger news from 2014 will be recapped, and the slate of cross Canada events for 2015 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 2015 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award and the 2015 Dave Allan Memorial Award will be honoured.
To finish the evening there will be a no doubt lively presentation by Claude Roy, Patrick Vinet, Kevin Brown, Bruce Marshall and Mary-Francis Marshall. The adventurers will recount with pictures and anecdotes their 3,500 km trip in the summer of 2014 touring the Gaspe Peninsula and attending the East Coast Challenger Rendezvous. This segment of the banquet is always great fun!
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.
The 2014 Best Showplane award went to Mike MacNeil from Ottawa for his yellow and blue Challenger C-IGKT. The 2014 Farthest Flown award was won by the very deserving Kevin Brown. Prior to Montebello the weather was cold and snowy, recall the "polar vortex", so non-local fliers were reduced to driving. Kevin however couldn't drive because all the roads in his area on the leeward shore of Lake Huron were closed due to heavy snow squalls. Not one to be defeated Kevin managed to excavate his Challenger from its hangar and made the trip to Montebello in style by air!
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 2014 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Kevin Brown who had minutes earlier captured the 2014 Farthest Flown Award! Kevin epitomizes passion for flight having participated in numerous long distance Challenger flights on floats and skis. Kevin epitomizes determination in his pursuit of the Challenger dream. He assembled his Challenger in an unheated garage over the course of a frigid winter and he built his own airstrip and hangar just south of Owen Sound, ON. Passion, determination and a great sense of humour make Kevin the perfect choice for this award!
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 2014 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given to Dan Pandur of Snowbird Aviation in Westlock, AB. Dan owns a new Challenger Light Sport XS-50 and a Classic Challenger II Clip Wing Special. He also owns a stunning replica of an SE5A biplane which was flown by such WWI aces as Billy Bishop, Albert Ball, Edward Mannock and James McCudden! Dan has assembled a number of Challengers for their lucky owners and for many years he has been quite active as a Challenger instructor. Dan was one of the very first instructors to be designated by Transport Canada as an examiner for the Passenger Carrying Endorsement to the Ultralight Pilot Permit.
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!
2015 will be the 17th consecutive Annual Challenger Float Tour and it will go west! The goal is to attend the 9th Annual Western Challenger Rendezvous to be held July 10 through 12 at the Wetaskiwin Airport near Edmonton.
This is a 4,000 mile round trip (6,000 km!) so three weeks will be allocated to allow plenty of time for sightseeing en route. The flock will depart the Ottawa area around June 27 and return around July 18.
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 don’t 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...
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.
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!
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 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 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 Montebello village at 392 rue Notre Dame.
Make your hotel and banquet reservations NOW to avoid disappointment!
Contact the hotel directly for your room reservation and contact Claude Roy directly for your seats at the banquet. Details and contact info are below.
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 low group rate of $209 tell the operator you are with the Challenger Owners group. If all the rooms in our group's block are taken or if you call after the deadline then you can still reserve at the best available rate assuming there is space.
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:
819-423-0001 / 1-877-423-0001
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 23rd 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 26 January 2015 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 23 January 2015. This confirmation should be in the form of a personal cheque sent to Claude at your earliest convenience and dated 23 January 2015 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 since there's always a few people with tickets who do not show up. (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!