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Canada's Amateur-Built Aircraft History

Isabelle Hopkinson Sully and Vern Jobst
Isabelle Hopkinson Sully and EAA's Vern Jobst exchange messages for Paul Poberezny at Goderich's 50th Anniversary of the first amateur-built aircraft flight in Canada on August 24, 2005.

Note: We received several e-mails in response to our story in the June issue of Bits and Pieces, including several regarding our brief mention of Canadian Amateur-Built aircraft history. This next story expands significantly on that subject. - Editor

In keeping with our earlier theme of Canada’s aviation history, we now look at the role that amateur-built aircraft have played, together with the players who brought this aircraft category to us.

In a December 1999 EAA Sport Aviation article, “Canadian Council News, 45 Years in 2000,” Rem Walker - then Chair of the EAA Canadian Council - details a chronological itemized list of steps from early efforts to today’s “Chapter 549 Exemption’” covering amateur-built aircraft.

“Keith Hopkinson of Goderich, Ontario, under the flight authority of Flight Permit 001, made the first flight in an aircraft constructed under Department of Transport regulations that recognized homebuilt aircraft in Canada on October 3, 1955.”  Read more

“This flight really started in 1953, when EAA was formed in the United States and formalized requests that had been made to allow homebuilts to be officially recognized in that country. This provided the impetus for Keith Hopkinson to try and persuade the Department of Transport to allow this activity in Canada. With the help and encouragement of EAA Founder Paul Poberezny and with the support of a petition presented through the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, a portion of which was prepared by Al Bartlett, the federal government agreed to use Hopkinson’s construction of a Stits SA-3A Playboy as the test case. The rest is history!”

Rem went on to list the efforts by EAAC President Herb Cunningham as well as the EAA Technical Committee under the direction of Ted Slack in bringing these early efforts to today’s realm.

Homebuilt aircraft represent a significant portion of private flying in Canada. Individuals in home workshops have created aircraft that reflect inventive genius that is as example of what can be accomplished by people with a dream, and the freedom to create and fly.”

(Read the whole story here.)

Another article of historical interest to amateur-built aircraft in Canada, was published in the April 1956 edition of Experimenter and cites the “Report and Minutes of the Inaugural Meeting of the Ultra-light Aircraft Association of Canada.”

“About 25 interested parties gathered in the Pilot’s Lounge at SkyHarbourAirport on Wednesday, February 15th to discuss the formation of an association in Canada similar to the Experimental Aircraft Association in the United States.

Keith Hopkinson acted as chairman and outlined briefly the history of EAA, its aims and work, the publication it puts out known as the “Experimenter” . . . He explained the present status of the homebuilder in Canada and the progress he had made with the Department of Transport to the point that a temporary ‘Permit to Fly’ had been issued his modified Stits Playboy. At the present time, he informed the group, a set of draft regulations were being circulated by the Department of Transport to the various associations, namely the Canadian Owners and Pilot’s Association, Aircraft Industries and Transport Association, and the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association as well as the various divisions of the Department of Transport. It was hoped, he stated, that within the next few months sufficient information would be gathered that a final draft would be presented to the proper authorities for an amendment to the existing air regulations.”

The minutes go on to report the inaugural discussions for the formation of the “Ultra-light Aircraft Association of Canada”. (Ultra-light being the name used for homebuilt or amateur-built aircraft at this time.) The following bylaws were adopted:

  1. “Each member would be a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
  2. The association would function as a chapter of EAA.
  3. Its officers and members would act as liaison members between the Department of Transport and interested parties who were building projects.
  4. Monthly meetings would be held at SkyHarbourAirport in the Pilot’s Lounge the last Wednesday of Each month”

The minutes are signed:

“Yours Respectfully
Donald Fisher, Secretary
Goderich, February 15, 1956

(Read the report here.)

So to all the persons and all the organizations that have played the various supportive roles in getting us today’s freedom to dream, plan, build, and fly; our appreciation and a sincere “thank you” from all of us, the grateful Canadian aircraft homebuilders.

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