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Moe's Ottawa River Fly-In 2020

By Bill Evans, EAA Chapter 266, EAA 794228

April 2020 - The last time I attended this event was with John Wyman in his ski-plane, a Champ, say five years ago. It's one of my most memorable flying events. At that event, the previous week's weather had been clear, which magnified the attraction. Dozens of bush pilots and others flew in. It was amazing as well as unique.

Our takeoff was from CLA6, when John Wyman's friends in matched yellow Cubs arrived overhead. The sky called, we took off in ground effect, circled south before getting above the trees, and so on until we got to something like VFR altitude. Bill Wyman was also there but had more power, so to prevent icing he circled around our little wing. The Champ was close to full power the whole time.

Upon arrival I was stiff enough in my snowsuit that John had to drag me head-first out of the front seat before we all crashed into the snow. We laughed until we hurt.

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The scene on arrival at Moe's fly-in.

That year the river airport was decorated by dozens of Technicolor aircraft in metallic paints. All the colours of the rainbow were represented.

Those aircraft were mostly owned by Ontario and Quebec bush pilots, who regaled us with their best tales of the north. (Say, Jean, isn't this just about the same spot we crashed last year?)

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Parking on the river.

This year, Ed Hanniford did not have his Luscombe on skis, and while my Bakeng Deuce has flown in winter on skis, my head will not fit under the sliding canopy and I cannot bear the cold of an open cockpit. In truth, once it falls to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold bites and limits flights to circuits.

So we rented a Murano all-wheel-drive at CYUL, and were underway by 6 a.m. (You need AWD to ascend the riverbank near Aylmer, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.) The point was proven by a two-wheel-drive Sienna owner who spun his tires on the riverbank until they went flat. If you drive, you need four-wheel-drive and snow tires.

We pulled into the parking at about 9:30 a.m., which was before most aircraft arrived. Moe's special chili and buns and a 2-foot-square cake were served at about 11 a.m., so there was time for inspecting the birds that came and chatting with the pilots. There were literally gallons of Tim Horton's coffee. I learned that another pilot has started building a Bakeng Deuce, presumably with a Lycoming O-235 though, I am guessing. I gave his friend my contact info, as I also have a Deuce. I hope to take him flying. I took snapshots until my hands froze, twice!

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Once the arrivals began, those on skis could land on the river snow, but most pilots landed on the cleared runway and taxied to the ice parking strip. Some of the best engine covers generate heat from the sun, so pilots can stay as long as they wish. Over this area of the river, there are no towers or power lines, so pilots came in low and visually inspected the field at five feet before pulling up and coming around to land. Great fun!

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Since Moe's Ottawa River Fly-In began, bush flying has changed. Many new roads have been built, such that bush operators have been forced to consolidate, and not many operators still fly Beavers and Otters. Increasingly, bush flying is for hunting and fishing trips. My point is that the two dozen skiplanes we saw five to 10 years ago, all in flying colours, those planes were not so numerous this year.

I have a folded SS heat muff that might add some heat to the Bakeng Deuce. Bakeng now offers a canopy, so winter flying might be possible. Hmm...

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There were as many ladies in snow suits as men, and quite a few of them volunteered to make the fly-in happen. The cold did not seem to be a factor for the locals. Also, Moe has slotted barrels to burn what must have been a cord of firewood, and whatever fingers or toes are frozen soon thaw out near the fire. Moe put up a 40-foot plywood wall facing the sun. The radio said the wind was 23, but it was zero around that wall and a little sunlight warmth reflected off it.

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Perhaps the cake decorator "corrected the spelling" of Fly-In (flyin'?) to Flying!
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