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EAA Chapter 1410, High River

EAA SportAir Workshop
EAA SportAir Workshop

Monthly Chapter Meeting
Monthly chapter meeting

Young Eagle Flight
Young Eagle Flight

Lancaster at Oshkosh
Lancaster at Oshkosh

1410 Members at the Homebuilder's Dinner in Oshkosh.
1410 Members at the Homebuilder's Dinner in Oshkosh.

Our annual pot-luck banquet
Our annual pot-luck banquet.

It's a warm, breezy Thursday evening in High River, Alberta. We are at Hangar P11 at the regional airport getting ready for the monthly EAA Chapter 1410 meeting. We have arrived an hour before the meeting starts at 1900, to move airplanes, set up chairs, and put out a simple supper with beverages (as well as the cash dish!). Air cadets have been using the hangar for their meetings and as we clean up the notes on the whiteboard, visions appear of young people enjoying all kinds of discussions from flying and aircraft to public speaking. The flying community at this airport is alive and well!

Very quickly we have help as some local builders and flyers arrive. We enjoy the relative quiet of the hangar and casually talk about our projects and recent flying as the chairs and tables get moved around. This is when we get to spend time with visitors and new members and prepare an introduction to the group, if they are not with a group member.

Soon, however, there are groups milling around the hangar, filling plates with hot food, talking in small groups or calling out to each other across the hangar. Aircraft begin arriving - from Springbank, from Strathmore, occasionally from Lethbridge. The pilots are greeted as they move through the crowd and find their supper.

By 1855, about 30 members of our active roster of 60 have arrived and President Jeff and his exec' are moving toward the front to call the meeting to order. Such is the joy and work of 1410. From Day 1, in April 2004, this chapter has been one that carries excitement and anticipation for seemingly every member. Every meeting has planning to be done, but without letting the meeting get long, since there is also a noteworthy speaker from some area of specialized interest or from our own ranks. Members are intensely interested in the aviation activities of one another and find a role in both seeking and passing on their own cache of inspiration and flying and building experience.

Speaking of flying experience, seldom has there been more variety in a group of enthusiasts. We have builders, designers, and engine specialists; a great many repeat offenders from Van's RV group. There are Reno racers, sky jumpers and a parachute rigger; a restoration and museum specialist; Schneider trophy air-race winners; aerobatic pilots, new pilots, ex-pilots, aspiring pilots and builders; aviation historians, computer whiz kids, and writers who put out a number of articles and newsletters on behalf of the chapter. We have a huge hit list for our website and links keep popping up to us, from anywhere in the aviation world.

We fly Young Eagles throughout the year and these flights are also the centerpiece of the Fathers' Day Fly-in at our airport. Throughout the school year we host Grade 6 science classes and Girl Guide field trips.

We are the chapter of the Lancaster-to-AirVenture 2006, of the webmasters' award 2007, of SportAir workshops in Canada, and the famed Bits and Pieces newsletter for Canadian members and general interest. (Subscribe now if you have not already done so.)

We are often questioned about the life and times of our dynamic group. It's hard to quantify results when there are so many things happening at any given time, but as a guess here is my 'analysis':

We are no "old boy's club," but we have a stated commitment to reach out to every member, wherever they are in their aviation life. We actively encourage people to take leadership and service roles since we believe the growth of individual members is more important than a few 'superstars.' No matter how stellar our executive, we all accept the value of variety and change that still permits a stable 'platform' for growth. Growth is an important word for our leadership. Of course, we enjoy our old friends and colleagues, but chapter growth equals chapter life. We have a membership volunteer and members are actively recruited, through existing members and through the website and newsletters.

Some members comment that they appreciate the food; many commute from Calgary and further, and they find it convenient to pick up supper at the meeting. They also find this a great time for informal sharing and just having fun with friends.

We have been fortunate to be able to base our chapter at a regional airport -another good strategy for adding fun to our meetings. This location offers members the opportunity for a short evening flight and also gives them the opportunity to show and share rides in their aircraft. Being at the airport, I believe, will always remind us that aviation is the reason we are there.

Most of all our inspiration comes from our ties with EAA Oshkosh. Oshkosh, Wisconsin is 1410 air-miles from High River (really!), a world away across an international border with many staff and volunteers we have never met. The question sometimes arises, "Couldn't we just be a little airplane club at a rural airport and enjoy each other and our airplanes?"

On the contrary; I believe most of our members have become aware of the sense of history and importance conferred on recreational flying by EAA. Members who attend the Chapter Leaders' Workshop bring back the vision of greatness of this organization. The national and worldwide net cast by EAA is also evident at AirVenture, unlike any other convention in the world in size and scope. As more and more of us make that trip we find that the chapter really does have its roots and hopes for the future planted firmly in the base at Oshkosh. We are not just a little airplane group but a real force in our community promoting and improving aviation as EAA has done for decades.

As we work and play together, we count ourselves fortunate to have these "airplanes and people" - good friends, good times, and the thrill of flight we all share. Chapters really are where the fun is!

We meet in Hangar P-11 (High River Regional Airport) the first Thursday of each month; food at 1830, meeting about 1900 hours. Come join us. You are welcome! Check us out on the web: www.eaahighriver.org.

By Jean Dueck

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