COA Award Winners

Canada's Favourite Advanced Ultralight

The annual Challenger Winter Rendezvous is the venue for presentation of 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 welcomed visitors to his workshop.

Following are the past winners of the Vinet and Allan awards - click the images of the plaques to enlarge:

The 2017 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Ed Newhook from St. John's, Newfoundland. Ed acquired his Challenger one piece at a time via the Kit By Section program and assembled it himself. He has been flying the plane for ten years on amphibious floats. In winters past due to challenging weather conditions on The Rock he mothballed his Challenger in a trailer. Ed recently finished building a hangar at a pond so this winter he will try wheel/skis for the first time. Ed has been based at a pond on the Avalon Peninsula and also at Gander International, both at the airport and on a pond next to the runways. Ed and his wife Roxanne hosted the first Newfoundland Challenger Rendezvous, also known as Rockebello!

The 2017 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given to well known aviation photographer Jean-Pierre Bonin from Montreal, Quebec. Every year for the past ten years J-P has been out on the frozen Ottawa River capturing images of the Challenger Winter Rendezvous at Chateau Montebello. These images have been published extensively online and in print media to the delight of aviation enthusiasts everywhere. Jean-Pierre's photography has conveyed brilliantly the joys of winter aviation and inspired numerous fans get out of their cabins and participate!

The 2016 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was given to Andreas Ruttkiewicz from Vancouver Island, BC. Andreas was in a terrible road accident which ended his career flying jets in the air force and left him with severe physical wounds and deep psychological scars. Most people would have given up but Andreas started what he calls "Life Number Two". He and his wife Michele refurbished a sailboat and sailed to Mexico. Together they created a charming bakery in Sooke. Andreas assembled a Challenger and built up a successful ultralight flying school. No one is more passionate!

The 2016 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given to Kathy Lubitz from Southern Ontario. As the long serving President of the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada Kathy has worked tirelessly on behalf of grass roots aviation. She has represented our interests to Transport Canada to rationalize regulations on pilot licensing, aircraft registration, ultralight operations and private aerodromes. Kathy has guided UPAC to create a curriculum with comprehensive course materials to produce well informed, well trained, safe ultralight owners and pilots. Thank you Kathy!

The 2015 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to to John Baker and John Sutherland. These two amigos base their Challengers in adjacent hangars near Toronto. They have flown to Montebello on skis where they were tied for the Farthest Flown Award. Their longest trip to date was to Nova Scotia on amphibs to attend the East Coast Challenger Rendezvous. To further demonstrate their passion John Sutherland created several videos featured in the Challenger Cinema and John Baker opened a full service Rotax business.

The 2015 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given to Frank Hofmann. Frank has been a fixture in the Challenger Community since 1984 when he started giving ground school courses for the Ultralight Pilot Permit and the Ultralight Instructor Rating. Teaching - sharing knowledge with others - is in Frank's DNA. His full time job was Chair of the Aircraft Maintenance Department at a Montreal college. In his "spare" time Frank built a Midget Mustang and served many years as a director of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Organization.

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 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 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.

The 2013 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Bill Bryan of Markham, ON who for many years has given his full time and attention to our community. Bill acquired his Challenger via the Kit By Section Program between 2001 and 2004. He liked assembling and flying so much he sold his business to focus on Challenger activities. He became an instructor and opened a flying school. He assembled Challenger kits for other owners and became an authorized Challenger inspector. In his spare time he flies his Challenger for pure pleasure!

The 2013 Dave Allan Memorial Award was given on the 30th anniversary of the Challenger to the entire Challenger Team at Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corp. Quad City has produced not just the most popular ultralight in Canada but one of the most popular and long lasting in the world. The Challenger line of aircraft was launched in 1983 and has enjoyed continuous improvements ever since. To illustrate the staying power of the marque, Challengers swept all the Light Sport awards at Airventure Oshkosh in 2013! The award was accepted by general manager Karen Oltman on behalf of everyone at the factory in Illinois.

The 2012 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to the de Nijs family from southwestern Ontario. They assembled their two Light Sport Challengers in the workshop during the winter lull on the farm. All three generations participated - from unloading the boxes from the truck through assembling and launching the planes. It was literally every man, woman and child. They flew their Challengers 1500 km round trip to Montebello on skis to win the Farthest Flown Award. Their XL-65 was voted the Best Showplane! They took the Triple Crown! There is no better example of passion for flight!

The 2012 Dave Allan Memorial Award was won by the very deserving Rob Lake of Kingston, Ontario. Rob left his day job several years ago so he could spend his full time in the Challenger community. He has assembled Challengers for himself and for others plus he has traveled to assist owners at their locations. Rob has spent a huge amount of his personal time talking on the phone and communicating via email to answer questions and guide people on assembly of Challengers, all across Canada and the United States. Rob is indeed a most worthy recipient of this honour.

The 2011 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Bernie and Shelley Rector of East Coast Ultralight in Nova Scotia. They have a 2000' grass strip with hangar, classroom, workshop and two Challengers. Bernie has 1,500 hours in Challengers on wheels, skis and floats and he has built a half dozen Challengers. In 2011 East Coast Ultralight became a full time, full service Challenger dealer. Bernie and Shelley have hosted the East Coast Challenger Rendezvous since its inception in 2010. Clearly they have made a major contribution to furthering ultralight aviation on the east coast!

The 2011 Dave Allan Memorial Award was presented to Bob Robertson, owner of Light Engine Services, the Western Canada Rotax Service Centre. Bob's Aero Controls throttle quadrants and splitter cables are found in many if not most Canadian Challengers. He developed an excellent, high quality system for oil injection on Challengers powered by the Rotax 503. Bob is regarded internationally as an expert on Rotax engines. He is known for giving his advice freely by phone and email as well as on internet forums. Bob is not just a contributor of great prodicts and service - he also contributes to safety by sharing his extensive knowledge with others.

The 2010 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to John Woudstra of Stittsville, Ontario. John came to the Challenger community a decade ago via gliding and general aviation. He did an excellent job of building his own Challenger and has been an ardent flyer on skis and floats. John has overcome substantial personal challenges during this period yet he has continued not just to fly himself but to foster and encourage others. He has been active in the Young Eagles and Youth Flight programs to attract the next generation to aviation. John is an outstanding example of passion for flight.

The 2010 Dave Allan Memorial Award was presented to Patrick Vinet of Puddlejumper Floats! After his father Maurice passed away Patrick left his career at an engineering firm to run the float business full time. He has made Puddlejumper amphibious floats the most popular choice for light aircraft everywhere. Patrick's ongoing refinements have made PJ floats lighter and more durable plus more functional all at the same time. In float flying lighter weight is extremely important for performance but at the same time it is extremely difficult to achieve without sacrificing durability and functionality. Patrick has succeeded and is to be lauded for his achievements.

The 2009 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award went to Mike and Tracy Hughes of Edmonton who have run Challenger West since 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 have hosted the Western Challenger Owners Rendezvous every year since 2007. It's hard to imagine more passion!

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 pilots owe Greg a debt of gratitude!

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!

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 utility and pleasure for Challenger owners worldwide.

The 2007 Maurice Vinet Memorial Award was presented to Kris Falk of Terrace, BC. Kris abandoned general aviation as well as his day job several years ago to focus on the Challenger life style. Kris now makes his living flying and instructing in Challengers as well as building and inspecting them for others. He has twice flown Challengers from Montreal to Edmonton! Follow Kris on one such journey in The Adventures Of One Jelly Bean.

The recipient of the inaugural 2007 Dave Allan Memorial Award was Dave Griffith of Katevale, QC. Dave has been a member of the Challenger community for close to the full quarter century. In that time he has become the master builder of the master builders with an impressive total of 45 Challengers assembled! Dave's craftsmanship is the pride of the owners of his Challengers.

The 2006 Vinet award went to Dale Erhart of Comox, BC. Dale is an A-340 airline pilot, retired CF-18 fighter pilot and extremely enthusiastic Challenger owner. Earlier in the afternoon he had given an interesting and informative session on building his Challenger and flying it on floats on the West Coast. In a short time Dale has become a reservoir of knowledge and experience as well as a sparkplug to ignite the growth of the Challenger on the West Coast.

In 2006 a Special Vinet Award was given to Ian Coristine who had retired from National Ultralight, the Canadian distributor of the Challenger. Ian was a pioneer in the ultralight movement in the late seventies and he spearheaded the introduction of the Challenger in Canada in the eighties. His long distance flights plus his articles, photographs and video have inspired countless others to join our world.

The 2005 Vinet Award was given to Harold Young of St. John's, Newfoundland. Harold built his Challenger over the course of a single winter and produced a fine aircraft that is truly a work of art. He has become a focal point for Challenger owners in Newfoundland, providing support and encouragement for the growing flock. Harold and his Challenger are somewhat unique in that neither has ever flown off land - only from the water on floats! Harold's Challenger II C-IYNG appears in our Challenger Gallery. Click here to view.

In 2005 a Special Vinet Award was presented to Bruce Brown of St. Lazare, QC. As a full time Challenger professional Bruce has accumulated a vast repository of knowledge and experience on all aspects of the aircraft - from building to flying to maintaining. Bruce is exceptionally generous in sharing this expertise with the Challenger community. He is a cornerstone of the Challenger SOC Inspection safety initiative and has travelled all over Canada spreading safety far and wide. Bruce flew a Challenger from Montreal to Edmonton with Larry Whittaker. Read about it in Seven League Boots.

The 2004 Vinet Award went to Doug and Denise Gagnon of Nanoose Bay, BC. Doug has 28,000 hours of air force and airline time and is presently a Boeing 777 captain. Denise has 28 hours and is working on her Ultralight Pilot Permit! In September 2003 the Gagnon's flew their Challenger from Barrie, Ontario (near Toronto) to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island - 4,000 km! See Seven League Boots for a brief account of their voyage. The Gagnon's Challenger II C-IDDG appears in our Challenger Gallery. Click here to view.

The 2003 Maurice Vinet Award was presented to Dr. Tom Reavell who says he looks to the future with enthusiasm and excitement for the wonderful experiences which await him, the sights that are beyond his imagination, and the people he will have the opportunity to meet simply because he flies. We'll second that emotion!

The 2002 Vinet award went to Gord Ekstrom who demonstrates a passion for Challenger flying, building and socializing that sets an example for us all. Gord's exquisite craftsmanship has to be seen to be believed - his Challenger has a special mount for his fly fishing rod! Gord's Challenger appeared on the March 2004 cover of COPA Flight.

The inaugural 2001 Maurice Vinet award was presented by Maurice's sons Patrick and Andre to the very deserving Major Claude Roy. Claude founded the Canadian Challenger Owners Association over a decade ago and has shepherded it to become the most active and respected in recreational aviation. Claude has logged countless miles in his Challenger on floats and skis, including a flight from Ottawa to James Bay - in the middle of winter!

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