Century Flight 2010 in Whitehorse

For the past 3 days I’ve been surrounding myself with little airplanes. Whitehorse is currently hosting “Century Flight 2010”, the largest gathering of airplanes in the Yukon since Word War II. The is the 2nd event organized by John Lovelace, who for 10 years was host of the television series “Wings Over Canada”. A total of 103 aircraft made it to the Yukon over the weekend and are now doing day trips around the territory.

Cathy and I spent an hour or so at the airport on Saturday afternoon, watching the early arrivals. I had my air-channel scanner with me, which greatly increased the fun of it. Heading downtown to run some errands while still listening to the tower/aircraft conversations, though, I heard an aircraft with the registration “Whiskey Delta Mike” on the radio. I used to own “Whiskey Delta Mike”, so I did a u-turn and headed back up the hill. However, when the plane taxied in, it was C-FWDM, not C-GWDM which is the one I owned. Just as well – I had a knot in my stomach about seeing it again.

With the gates to the aircraft parking area open on Sunday, it was great to be able to have a close look at not only visiting aircraft, but also some of the very interesting aircraft owned by Yukoners. This is a 1946 Ercoupe. Unfortunately, many of the planes parked at YXY haven’t flown in a long time.

This plane sports a decal from last year’s Century Flight tour as well as this year’s.

When this Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer was built in 1957, many aircraft still had tailwheels, which are much harder to land and somewhat harder to take off in (my first 44 hours of flying were in “taildragger” Fleet Canucks). The landing gear configuration is largely what led to the popularity of the Tri-Pacer – 9,490 of them were built before production ceased in 1964. This beautiful example is from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Detail on a 1967 Beechcraft A23-19 Musketeer.

Looking down the line to the active runway. While most people think of flying as a rich man’s sport, anyone who can afford a motorhome could afford an airplane. As with motorhomes, you can spend pretty much any amount you want – you can get a Cessna 150, for example, for around $15,000. From there, the sky’s the limit ๐Ÿ™‚

The Lions Club did a great job of feeding everyone during the official Open House from 4-6 pm on Monday. Everything was by donation – I hope that they did really well.

Another Yukon plane, this beautiful 1978 Cessna 185 is worth $200,000 or so.

This is what $2 million will get you! This 1998 Cessna 208 Caravan is from Lloydminster, Alberta.

Of the 11 flying aircraft based at Vernon, BC, 5 of them are in Whitehorse. The Snowflakes are a precision flying team.

This is an RV-9A, a high-performance homebuilt aircraft from Vernon that took the pilot about 3 years to build. Homebuilts seem to get more popular all the time – there’s a lot of it going on in the Yukon (see the Yukon homebuilders’ Web page).

Another homebuilt, an RV-6. One of the things that I really enjoy about fly-ins is talking to the pilots – pilots never get tired of talking about flying and their planes ๐Ÿ™‚

This new (2009) 2-seat Chinook Plus 2 is one of the very few ultralights in the Yukon. While I think they’re a great way to get into the air, the odds of me getting Cathy into this machine are about zero – she thinks that a Cessna 172 is too small.

This is Chinese-built CJ6A Nanchang is certainly the most unusual of the attendees. For warbird enthusiasts, this is an affordable way into the hobby/sport.

The detail on the Nanchang is extremely good.

These decals from fly-ins, all in the North, go back to 1988.

An Aviat A-1B Husky, built in Wyoming.

The lovely little Grob G-115C Bavarian is built in Germany. This is a 1999 model from London, Ontario.

The cockpit of the Grob.

A 1976 Rockwell Aero Commander from Midhurst, Ontario. These planes are as fast as they look, and can be picked up for around 100 grand.

The tail of the sweetest Cessna 170 I’ve seen in many years. This 1952 “B” model is from Medicine Hat, Alberta.

What can you say about what it takes to make huge sheets of polished aluminum look like that?

Alkan Air’s Cessna 208B taxis past an RV-6 from Rocky View, Alberta.

The air traffic controllers seem to have had some fun with this event, but there have also been some frustrations keeping aircraft sorted out. This Air Canada flight departed (a bit late) in the middle of a lot of planes coming back from a day trip to Haines Junction.

The Yukon has put its best foot forward to greet these flyers – everyone I’ve talked to is amazed at how beautiful it is.

While most of the pilots and passengers are staying at hotels, many chose to camp right at the airport.

It’s now been almost 44 years since I started flying – but it’s also been 17 years since I’ve flown in the left front seat. For financial reasons, I quit flying not long after moving to the Yukon, but the past 3 days has convinced me that I need to get back in that seat.

My first plane was a partnership – I put up $7,300 to buy 1/3 of Whiskey Delta Mike in 1983. Airplane prices are at a low ebb right now, and a comparable machine can be picked up for $30-35,000 (and there are a lot of them for sale). Because of the current drop, I think that a good plane is an investment – not a great investment perhaps, but certainly a lot better than any other toy you can buy. To get my commercial multi-engine licence renewed will be a fairly long process, but that process will start in a few hours. Once I get Cathy up in the air for a few hours we can decide how much further to go…


Century Flight 2010 in Whitehorse — 6 Comments

  1. What a wonderful event for Whitehorse. I love the polished aluminium – imagine the sun glinting on that! We may be able to tempt you over here. We have the around Easter “Warbirds Over Wanaka” – South Is. (it’s on the net) and “Wings Over Wairarapa” – lower North Is.

  2. COOL! I wish I had been in Whitehorse when they were all there. My dad started Skagway Air Service with a Piper Tri-Pacer. The business grew over three decades, up to 11 aircraft. They closed down the air service 3 years ago because they couldn’t get a mechanic to live in a town without a doctor. They still have 9 planes just waiting for buyers to come along. Want one?

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  4. Wasn’t this a fun event Murray? It was wonderful seeing you there. While chatting I noticed the longing in your eyes to get back in the left front seat. Hope you do! See you in the skies.

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