Stitched panorama of RVA chez Mo / Mo’s Fly-in 2011 by Jean-Pierre Bonin ©
Slideshow of photos from Jean-Pierre Bonin’s album of RVA Chez Mo Fly-in 2015. To see the whole album, with complete aircraft identification, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/djipibi/albums/72157648728143633/with/16523190988/
Plane Jam on the Ottawa
Inviting a few friends to come over with their planes sounds easy. When the idea first came to Maurice “Mo” Prud’homme of Luskville, Québec, in 1988 nothing could have been simpler. But year after year, he kept inviting more and more friends with planes to visit him on the Ottawa River, just north of the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, Québec, and soon his February Fly-in / Rendez-vous aérien (RVA) was drawing scores of pilots – in 2015, more than 100 pilots were parked on the river.
With crowds like that, advance planning and a lot of help make things run smoothly. As president of the local Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) group, Flight 169, Mo soon found volunteers to help with tasks such as aircraft parking, registration and radio communication. His years as a chef for the House of Commons came in handy too. You can’t send pilots home hungry, and Mo’s steaming pans of beans and chili ensure there is no danger of that.
Plowing the runway on the frozen Ottawa River is a top priority. Mo counts on losing a lot of sleep in the last few days before his annual Fly-in, checking the ice thickness (15 inches in 2016) and making sure that the 4,000 by 100 foot runway is well cleared for aircraft on wheels. Ski planes land on the snow beside the runway. And of course you need parking for all the planes, not to mention the volunteers’ trucks.
Overcast, windy weather and a storm in the forecast kept the numbers down for 2016 but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of those who made it. And everyone knows you can’t fight with Mother Nature. But Mo’s Fly-in on the last Saturday of February every year is always a go, come rain or come shine.
As afternoon draws on, it’s time to fly home. Small fixed-wing planes of all shapes and sizes – and many years a helicopter or two – take off to return to their home base in the Ottawa Valley, or Montréal or even the northern United States, carrying away good memories of being with friends who share a love of planes. Maybe feeling a little sad – but hey, we’ll see everyone again at next year’s fly-in! And wasn’t it fun? Thumbs up, Mo!
A big tip of the hat to Jean-Pierre Bonin for permission to use his photos. To see more of his work, click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/djipibi/albums/with/72157648728143633