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Chapter 63 Profile - Distinguishing Factors in an EAA Chapter
By Ben Hoeppner, EAA 407182
January 2021 – What makes an organization great? In addition to clear vision, a healthy entrepreneurial flair, a good application of common sense, a dose of dynamic leadership — put it all together and what do you have? You have a contingent of flying enthusiasts led by a few good men and a couple of terrific women also known as EAA Chapter 63! Situated right next to the latitudinal center of the Dominion of Canada is an impressive, rapidly expanding aviation chapter. It is located inside the corner of Hwy #1 (Trans-Canada) and Winnipeg Perimeter East at 57119 Murdock Rd.
Generally in cheerful demeanor, they have time to welcome a visiting inquirer, a searching loner, or known celebrity with equal congeniality and acceptance. Generally ready to extend a helping hand, this well-meaning bunch demonstrates these same qualities at Oshkosh every year under a 30-foot long tent with a full-length table. The table is surrounded by chairs for all who want to can stop for a drink or snack and a chat. You will find this tent near the river (creek) among the trees in an area called 101 The Woods, about 300 meters from the west camper registration entrance, near the store. The invitation is out — come see us!
As a professional executive recruiter, I was impressed right at the outset by the organization's HR abilities. A leading banker (who wore three big hats for Western Canada with one of Canada's largest banks) called a meeting to reinstate Chapter 63. A handful of supporters and curiosity seekers attended. A sense of action and progress was in the air. Before the meeting ended in late fall of 2004, every attendee had a job, a role to fill, or an assignment to complete. EAA Chapter 63 has been on the move ever since. It represents the entire province of Manitoba!
Today, a $20 annual membership gains you access to association with some of the finest aviators in the country. Not just professional pilots but a well-rounded group of people such as AMEs with technical expertise in everything from instrumentation through systems and other valuable skill sets. These guys have a wide range of divergent skills, they understand both airplanes and people.
Here's a chronology of EAA Chapter 63 progress points:
2004 – The Renewed Beginning
Jack Neima re-activated EAA Chapter 63 with the expressed purpose of being able to hold Young Eagles rallies. This was done with the Recreational Aircraft Association (RAA) non-compete understanding. It resulted in an annual AirVenture pilgrimage thus becoming a focal point of being an EAA Chapter 63 member. Now, chapter members pool their resources and communally camp in Camp Scholler for a week (or more) annually.
2004 – 2016+ Congruent with Above
Numerous, frequent throughout the year fun fly out activities must be referenced. This includes places like Disley, Saskatchewan (with Saskatchewan and High River Chapters involved); Corman Air Park near Saskatoon; and Dryden (in addition to members flying out to numerous fly-in breakfasts over the years.)
2016 – B-17 Bomber
Hosting the B-17 Visitation and Fly-in Event in Gimli, Manitoba. It should be observed that to make these events successful requires tenacious leadership plus hundreds of volunteers, a cadre of news media personalities and the best of supporters in the city of Gimli. Dignitaries, esteemed WWII pilots, and others of distinction were invited and honored. More than 100 rides were given in addition to 200 static tours. This success was ultimately the financial turning point of Chapter 63.
2017 – Pancake Breakfast
EAA Chapter 63 experimented with its first fly-in/drive-in pancake breakfast. It was a steep learning curve but attracted about 40 attendees. Plans are to extend this event in the future.
2018 – Continuous Education & Training
George Gavrailoff, a commercial pilot and air traffic controller for NavCanada, stepped forward offering to facilitate an IMC/VMC Club. Right up to lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, George was able to hold monthly meetings that were enthusiastically attended by more than 20 monthly participants (members and non-members alike.)
Chapter 63 was able to sponsor a qualified candidate to the 2018 EAA Flight Academy during the week of AirVenture.
2019 – Scholarship and Web Development
The chapter was successful in finding and funding, with the financial help of EAA Chapter 1126 in Timmins, Ontario, another suitable candidate for the 2020 Flight Academy, although the COVID-19 pandemic interfered resulting in this candidate's attendance being postponed until the 2021 calendar year. The chapter will continue in this educational venture in the future by including a well-qualified candidate for the Ray Aviation Scholarship Program. If accepted, our candidate will go on to earn his or her private pilot license through a flying school in Canada.
Norman Fillion, having an extensive background in information technology, graciously stepped forward with an offer to start a website for Chapter 63. The offer was eagerly accepted by the executive. Today we have probably one of the best EAA chapter websites in North America thanks to Norm's effort and ongoing support.
2020 – Association Merger & Aircraft Acquisition
After much discussion and surveys, it was decided among all concerned that the RAA Chapter at Lyncrest should merge with EAA Chapter 63. This amalgamation took almost a year to complete but in September 2020, all RAA bank accounts and assets were officially transferred to Chapter 63. This included money, a 50-foot x 60-foot heated/insulated hangar with extensive tooling and amenities, and the tool crib. RAA members were very positive about this amalgamation resulting in a merger of the RAA and EAA Chapter 63 membership lists. As of December 2020, the EAA 63 membership list stands at 84 members.
In May, Harvey McKinnon, a Chapter member, made us aware of a Piel Emeraude homebuilt aircraft that was stored in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. The original builder had passed away some years earlier and the project was available to a buyer. Harvey's thought was that this almost completed aircraft would be a very good choice for the chapter to acquire for a project airplane. After an inspection, the executive decided to acquire the project with the prospect of having a small number of members getting involved in the final assembly and bringing the aircraft to airworthiness. The ultimate goal will be for the current members of the build team to form a flying club and to become fractional owners, resulting in a relatively inexpensive aircraft to operate.
Nice paint job on the Piel Emeraude.
2021 – New Business, Plans, and Updates
The chapter is planning on holding the first virtual meeting of 2021 on Thursday, January 21. At this meeting, James Slade, the Emeraude Project Leader, will offer a PowerPoint presentation of the project airplane to date. It is the firm wish of the executive and membership that regular monthly general meeting can resume this year by May or June depending on the current pandemic.
The very first Young Eagles Day Camp is planned for May in the EAA Hangar. Raquel Lincoln and Joyce Stoyka are organizing this event for about 10 Young Eagles prospects who will learn the basics of flight and participate in a model airplane building exercise. This event will be subject to the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be delayed until the summer of 2021.
Due to the nature of this group’s good leadership its impact in aviation progress is gradually gaining both recognition and appreciation — a bright light in private and commercial flying!