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Chapter 154 – One of the Oldest
By Ron Wood, EAA 1013645, President, Chapter 154
June 2020 – Regina and South Saskatchewan EAA Chapter 154, one of Canada’s oldest chapters, was started back in 1962. Larry Siebert was working on a Baby Ace at the time. While many thought this was an impossible task, the Mac Tools rep told him of others doing the same thing. One of those was an EAA member and the seeds of starting a local chapter were planted. While on a training course in Wisconsin, Larry took the opportunity to visit with Paul Poberezny to get the details and came back armed with literature and membership forms to get the chapter going.
In the September 1965 Sport Aviation newsletter it was reported that 34 aircraft projects were underway and seven homebuilts had first flights since the chapter was formed. Pretty ambitious considering there were no fast build kits back in the day.
In the early days there were also a lot of aircraft being built in basements. This resulted in documented cases of two basement walls being jackhammered and one getting an enlarged window. Some pretty understanding wives to allow that. One, Ann Parr, won the Mink Coat award (actually a trophy) from Ray Stits at the 1969 EAA convention in Rockport, for the help and encouragement given to her airplane-building husband.
In September 1978, EAA Chapter 154 was honoured with a visit by Paul Poberezny and the EAA’s Spirit of St. Louis replica on its commemorative tour. The tour stop coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Regina Airport and Regina Flying Club. The Spirit of St. Louis pilot, Vern Jobst, dressed in period costume as Lindberg on arrival in Paris, and he enjoyed sharing the Lindburg story with the school children and all who attended the event. The following day the Spirit and accompanying Stinson, headed west for a short visit at CFB Moose Jaw where the base commander had a ride in the Spirit and Paul Poberezny had a ride in a Tutor. (Wouldn’t it be neat if that Tutor was now a Snow Bird scheduled to perform at Airventure – sadly that's not going to happen, at least for this year.)
In 2015, the chapter took on a whole new challenge. EAA was looking at bringing its B-17, Aluminum Overcast, north for a Canadian tour and reached out to Western EAA chapters to host the event. We found such great enthusiasm for the tour stop that when EAA postponed for a year we decided, with the help of other local aviation groups, to host the Commemorative Air Force's B-25 Miss Mitchell.
B25 Miss Mitchell in Regina having a busy day.
The B-25 tour stop was a great success and taught us many important lessons to help make the B-17 tour stop an even bigger success in 2016.
B-17 Aluminum Overcast with those all-important volunteers.
After two very busy summers we were looking forward to a quiet 2017 when out of the blue we were contacted by a former chapter member to ask if we could help host a tour stop. This time for the Vimy Flight of World War I replica Nieuport 11s touring across the country to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge on its centennial and Canada's 150th anniversary. On short notice the chapter exec jumped into action, notifying media, acquiring hangar space, and arranging volunteers. The event once again went off without a hitch and was very well attended.
Vimy flight visit.
Another surprise we got in 2017 was the donation of a partially complete Zenith CH 701 kit to the chapter. The kit was left to us from the estate of a Regina pilot, Richard Paice. It was his wish that the Chapter 154 complete the kit. One of our members had just finished an RV-12 project and offered up his garage for the summer. With a space secured, the group build was on. Three EAA Chapter 154 members have now committed to purchasing the completed kit, and the project was moved to one of their garages. Work sessions typically happen on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings and are open to all chapter members.
Donated CH 701 — first work session.
Other chapter events include VMC sessions; the 27th annual Fly-In Breakfast at Disley, and the annual banquet held in the fall.
Today as we social distance to slow the spread of COVID-19, the chapter's CH 701 build has been put on hold. The current build sessions consist of Zoom meetings to discuss the latest gee whiz gadget to mount in the panel and anything aviation in general. Contrast that to 1968 when the Weyburn fly-in breakfast was cancelled as they couldn’t get out notices due to a postal strike. It is a scary time we live in but also a truly amazing time. Stay safe and blue skies.