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Canada’s Top Amateur Pilot




Liam Cohen 2017 Webster Trophy winner. Photo: Mike Doiron.

Owen Titerle, 2017 runner-up. Photo: Mike Doiron.

Imagine being named “Canada’s Top Amateur Pilot!”  Liam Cohen, a student at Seneca College in Peterborough, Ontario, earned that title in 2017.


The Webster Memorial Trophy recognizes Canada’s accomplished amateur pilots.


Runner-up was Owen Titerle, currently flying at Coastal Pacific Aviation, Abbotsford, B.C. He received the Eunice Carter cup.


Every year, candidates compete in nine regional finals. Regional finalists then gather for the national competition, hosted in 2017 by Mitchinson Flight Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


With the highest aggregate score across his flight assessment, simulator assessment, written examination, and interview, Cohen received the John Webster medal for good airmanship.


He also won the NavCanada Trophy for excellence in pilot/controller communication.



Visits to Aviation Industry Sites



Competition week is not all about exams and assessments. Webster finalists are invited by local members of the aviation industry to tour their sites. In 2017, the group visited Transwest Air, the Nav Canada Tower, the STARS Air Ambulance operation and the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum.



Webster Trophy finalists Tom Kumaran, Central Ontario, and Liam Cohen, Eastern Ontario, seated in a King Air 350 operated by Transwest Air. Photo: Mike Doiron.




Generous Prizes


Numerous sponsors, notably Air Canada, the major Webster Trophy sponsor, offer a wealth of prizes. The winner came away with two tickets donated by Air Canada for a flight anywhere within North America and the Caribbean, a development day with the Snowbirds and an Aerospace watch from Breitling Canada. The runner-up also received a Breitling watch.


Painting by Bob Bradford. Canada Aviation and Space Museum collection.

Both men were presented with framed prints of an original work by well-known Canadian aviation artist Robert Bradford depicting the Curtiss-Reid Rambler III, CF-ABZ, flown by Montreal pilot John Webster in the King’s Cup race in Britain in 1931.


The painting shows a tense moment as Webster’s yellow Rambler and a D.H. Moth nearly collide while emerging from the clouds during the race at a point near Leeds, England.


Finalists all received a Webster plaque marking their achievement, a $1,000 grant toward a Flight Instructor Rating donated by Moncton Flight College, a guaranteed job interview with Air Canada once qualified, and various other prizes listed on the new Webster Trophy website. (See links below.)


In addition, the winner’s school received a $2,000 institutional grant donated by FlightSafety International.


An Accomplished Amateur


John C. Webster of the Montreal Light Aeroplane Club, 1931.

Origins of the Webster Memorial Trophy date back to 1931. On August 10, just one week after his return from a very respectable showing in the King’s Cup, John Webster was practising for an aerobatics performance to take place August 15-16 at the Canadian Air Pageant at St. Hubert, Québec. Flying a Curtiss-Reid Rambler I, CF-ABY, he went into a spin from which he did not recover. He was 29.


His father, Dr. J. Clarence Webster of Shediac, New Brunswick, set up the annual competition in his memory to encourage Canadian amateur pilots.


Since 1932, the Webster Memorial Trophy has been awarded 54 times. A total of 26 men and women on the winners’ list have gone on to permanent jobs with Air Canada.





My thanks to Brenda Reid, national administrator for the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition, for sharing background on the annual competition.

In addition to the Webster Trophy website, sources include Flight magazine, July 31, 1931; newspapers of the day; and Library and Archives Canada registration and accident files for CF-ABY, the Rambler I which John Webster was flying on August 10, 1931.

Special thanks to photographer Mike Doiron of Moncton, New Brunswick, for permission to use his photographs from the 2017 Webster Trophy finals.

Mike says he started in photography as a hobby at a very young age and continues to take pictures 45 years on. He spent over 40 years in aviation as an educator, administrator and inspector. He taught basic flying as well as aerobatics. Today he concentrates on photography. “Although I enjoy all types of photography, I especially enjoy shooting aviation and anything that flies.” See his photography portfolio at:




Finalists in 2017:

Amateur pilots invited to apply:

Webster Memorial Trophy winners since 1932:…nners-since-1932/

General background on the Webster Memorial Trophy: