|Nanaimo, BC Fly-in, 2002
By Kevin Mackenzie
Congenial hosts, a variety of interesting aircraft, fun activities,
beautiful clear blue sky, and six Skymasters on the field - the
2002 Nanaimo Fly-in had all the ingredients for a great fly-in,
and a good time was had by all.
Liza and I planned to attend only the first day of the two day
event, due to other commitments. If we had known what a great group
this is, and all they had planned, we would have altered our schedule.
Although the future of next year's Nanaimo Fly-in is a bit in doubt,
we have marked off that weekend in our calendar, and very much hope
to attend the whole event next year.
fly-in activities began with a poker run to six nearby BC airports
(Victoria, Boundary Bay, Qualicum, Powell River, Sechelt and Courtenay).
Liza and I had planned to get up early and arrive in Nanaimo at
about 10 AM so we could do the run. But like Ernest K. Gann and
his wife, I think we should name our airplane the Noon Balloon,
because we have such trouble actually pulling off morning departures.
So we actually arrived in Nanaimo at about 12:30, where we were
met by Frank Benvin (at right with friend Jason).
Frank is the former president of the Nanaimo club, and is still
a very active member and contributor to the fly-in. Frank owns a
beautiful 337, which has the nicest interior I have ever seen in
a Skymaster. He showed us the custom slip covers he had made to
put over the front seats during maintenance, so as to keep the front
seats in their current pristine condition.
Frank Benvin's C337
Frank also showed us his clever rig for getting his airplane in
and out of his hangar. He has a ramp constructed from planks such
that when he takes the chocks out, his airplane slowly taxis itself
out of the hangar with no effort at all. He also has a bridle and
an electric winch that pull his airplane back up the ramp when it
is time to put it back in. I wish I had not been in such a hurry
when I saw this, I would have liked to have taken pictures for you.
Maybe next year.
So we arrived just after noon, and Frank being the hospitable sort
that he is immediately invited us to lunch at the local golf course
pub. We were joined by two of Frank's friends, and we sat outside
enjoying the beautiful sunshine and gabbing about airplanes. Before
we knew it, over two hours had gone by, and Liza and I had not even
started the poker run.
We scooted back to the airport, and Frank told us that if we would
fly to just one other airport in the poker run, we could still buy
a hand or two and participate. So Liza and I headed back to our
airplane to make the 30 minute flight to Powell River and back.
But another delightful interruption to our plans occurred when
we found Gordon Oracheski's '78 T337 parked next to ours. So we
HAD to stop and look at Gordon's Skymaster, and meet his two sons.
Gordon has a great looking bird, including an instrument panel full
of goodies: Garmin 530, Stec autopilot, and much more. You can see
some of it in the photos, although they do not do it justice.
Gord's sons Bill, Frank, and Gord himself with
his '78 T337. Panel below has Garmin 530, Stec autopilot, HSI, Shadin
Digiflo, engine monitoring, more...
Gord and his sons helped Liza and I push our Skymaster off the
grass and into the taxiway (a duty they performed twice more that
day) and we were off for a nice flight to Powell River. Powell River
is a 3600' nicely paved strip on a peninsula of the west coast of
mainland BC, north of Vancouver a good ways. It is a fun strip to
fly into because the western border of the strip is 200'+ tall trees,
and as a result you can't see the runway when on downwind or even
part of base, but when you turn final there is a beautiful clear
approach with a VASI. We made it to Powell River at about 3:50 PM,
10 minutes before the 4PM deadline
but we got our poker cards!
we returned to Nanaimo, they were just beginning to call out names
for the door prizes. They must have given away 30 prizes or more,
to my surprise. Things like home weather stations, carry all bags
(I won!) - unexpectedly nice gifts. We needed to be wheels up by
5:30, so we spent our last hour walking the ramp, and the pictures
at the end of this article are the result.
pointed out Ken Leyden's hangar to us. Ken is a master at cramming
airplanes into a small space. Within what looked to be about a 60
x 60 hangar he had several airplanes (a 340, a King Air and a 172
I think were the "other" airplanes, see photo), but all
I noticed were the beautifully painted (red) '76 P337 and the only
Reims P337 in Canada (according to Ken), a '74. Both of the airplanes
in the photos are for sale by the way, and you can get more information
at Ken's web site, www.ventureaviation.com.
Ken Leyden's '76 P337 (left) and '74 Riems P337
(right). Both for sale, click for larger..
(Article continued, next page.)