Top amateur aviators invited to join national competition
Ottawa to host Webster Competition for title of Canadaâ€™s Top Amateur Pilot.
Thursday May 10th 2012 - by Lindsay Hughes
The title of Canadaâ€™s Top Amateur Pilot will be up for grabs in Ottawa this summer, as the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition celebrates its 80th anniversary. Sponsored by Air Canada â€“ Flight Operations, and hosted by the Rockcliffe Flying Club (RFC), nine regional finalists will compete for the title over the course of four days at the RFC and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in the nationâ€™s capital.
Organized by Wayne and Amy Foy since 2006, the competition is open to all Canadian amateur pilots, and provides an opportunity to meet other amateur pilots and industry leaders, and gain attention from potential employers.
All nine finalists in the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition will take part in â€œWebster Week.â€ They will be flown to Ottawa courtesy of Air Canada on Monday August 13, and will attend events including a tour of the Ottawa International Airport air traffic control centre, a night sponsored by Transport Canada using King Air and Citation flight simulators, and written and practical flight tests. On the last night, the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition awards banquet will be held, where the winner will be announced.
â€œWebster Week has really blown up; itâ€™s so much more than a competition,â€ said Wayne Foy. â€œIt has really grown into a very prestigious national event.â€
Dr. J.C. Webster created the annual competition in 1932 in Shediac, N.B., to honour the memory of his son, John Webster, who died in 1931 while practising for the Trans-Canada Air Pageant, an aerobic flying competition where he was set to represent Canada.
The competition has seen two breaks in its history; the first during World War II, and the other in 1954 due to financial difficulties. Since then itâ€™s been growing with the help of Air Canada and an increasing number of industry sponsors.
â€œWhen Amy and I took over we had an average of about 35 competitors across the country and maybe around 12 schools, and about eight supporters,â€ said Foy. â€œLast year we broke a record of having 103 competitors, and 30 schools, and well over 35 supporters, including some pretty big names, as well as smaller ones. Everybody has their contribution to the program and we certainly appreciate everything people donate to the program, it all benefits the program and the finalists themselves.â€
In addition to a wide range of sponsored prizes, the winner will be symbolically presented the Webster Trophy at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, where it is displayed throughout the year. Designed in 1932 by Robert Tait MacKenzie, the Webster Trophy is a bronze sculpture of the Greek legend Icarus, who symbolizes youth and flight.
â€œThis year the competition is celebrating the trophy itself that was designed and initialed back in 1932. Weâ€™re celebrating that itâ€™s been persistent since 1932,â€ said Foy.
The host city changes every year as the competition travels in rotation through eastern, western, and central Canada, in keeping with the theme of a national event. Foy said it was appropriate for the 80th anniversary of the event to be held in the city where the trophy lives, adding that the Rockcliffe Flying Club has been an essential contributor to this yearâ€™s success.
â€œItâ€™s absolutely amazing the amount of support theyâ€™re giving us. Itâ€™s one of the best schools weâ€™ve used so far,â€ said Foy. â€œTheyâ€™ve taken a tremendous workload off our shoulders. Weâ€™re extremely excited about having them as our host school.â€
To apply, participants must have successfully completed a flight test for a Canadian private or commercial pilot licence in the past year. Alternatively, applicants can contact any Transport Canada-authorized pilot examiner to complete a regional flight test. Application forms are available online at webstertrophy.ca and must be submitted before June 1.
Flying an Avro Canada CF-100 jet fighter, Jan Zurakowski became the first pilot in a Canadian plane to break the sound barrier in December 1952. The ensuing thunderclap rattled windows in nearby Malton, Ont. www.canadiangeographic.ca