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International Lake Memphremagog Ski/Fly Meet Set for February

From Bits & Pieces Newsletter, November Issue

By George Weller

  • U.S. and Canadian pilots reach across the border at a previous International Fly-in at Lake Memphremagog.
  • Several Canadian airplanes parked on frozen Lake Memphremagog. At far right is the international border cut through the trees. Photos courtesy of George Weller

Canadian and U.S. pilots will have the unique opportunity to meet each other on an icy international border at the annual Lake Memphremagog International Skiplane Fly-In in Quebec and Vermont on Saturday, February 14, 2015.

It’s a weather-dependent event: Last year the fresh snow was too soft and deep that it forced us to cancel. Three years ago there were 41 planes, including several on wheels, participating along with three flybys.

All pilots participating do so at their own risk. In 2011 two pilots ignored the thin ice warning and sank. Even though the water was shallow, it took a lot of effort and resources to get the planes out. So if you have trouble, you are responsible to fix it!

Planes should plan to arrive between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. local, and things should be finished by 3 p.m. Bring some lunch and a lawn chair or something to sit on to be comfortable while we talk across the border with each other. The ice is usually 2 feet thick.

The meet location is due north of the Newport, Vermont, airport (EFK) on the 45th parallel on Lake Memphremagog just west of Providence Island (in the middle of the lake). The border can be easily seen, as there is a 20-foot-wide swath cut across the island and continuing from coast to coast.

This is not an official border crossing point, but for this special aviation event, you do not need your passports as long as you play by the rules. It is also the only event where you may bring a plane that is not normally able to cross the border, visit with aviation enthusiasts from the other country, and let them see your plane.

Event activities are at your own risk. For our mutual benefit and to avoid trouble, the rules are simple:

  • Canadians land on the Canadian side, and Americans land on the U.S. side - be sure.
  • Do not let any part of your plane enter the other country at any time in the air or on the ground.
  • No exchange or passing of any items of any kind, except sharing food, across the border.
  • Everyone flies and operates at their own risk.

The authorities will allow us to mingle with each other and have lunch together across that line and to see each other’s airplanes during this event only. This is a unique opportunity for Canadian and American aircraft owners to get to see each other without having to get passports or special aircraft permissions. Canadian RCMP and U.S. Border Patrol officials are usually on-site.

With the constantly increasing restrictions at the Canada/U.S. border, it is a unique opportunity for us to show authorities that small aircraft are not a big threat but can even be helpful in discovering a threat. You are encouraged to report any suspicious activities to authorities.

For current information, visit www.CTQ2.org. Join the e-mail list for event updates by e-mailing gweller@ctq2.org, or call 819-876-2528.

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