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Local airport to be inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame

August 4, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Zachary Roman

The history and success of the Brampton Flying Club is being recognized this year.

The Brampton Flying Club (BFC) is being inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame later this year, and receiving the Hall of Fame’s 2022 Belt of Orion Award for Excellence.

The Belt of Orion Award was founded by Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame to honour organizations, groups, societies or associations who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of aviation in Canada.

It will be the first time a flying club is inducted to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1973. The Brampton Flying Club actually predates the hall of fame as it was founded on March 8, 1946.

The BFC is a not-for-profit corporation and operates the Brampton-Caledon Airport, which is located at 13691 McLaughlin Rd. in Cheltenham — and happens to be the largest privately-owned airport in Canada.

Back in 1946, the BFC’s flight school, which is now world-renowned, had just one instructor: Bud Young. He taught students how to fly in a de Havilland Tiger Moth CF-DHR which was purchased from the Oshawa Flying Club for $250 in 1945. 

These days, the BFC has a fleet of 24 aircraft, and has restored the original Tiger Moth, too. The BFC also has two flight-training devices.

BFC Director of Community Relations Sam Meandro said thousands of pilots have earned their wings at BFC, from recreational to commercial. He explained the BFC is also home to maintenance and refuelling services, a pilot shop and restaurant, the Toronto Chapter of the Recreational Aircraft Association, the Great War Flying Museum, the 892 Snowy Owl Air Cadet Squadron, and many privately owned aircraft and hangars.

“Since its beginnings, the Club has promoted the growth of Canada’s aviation industry and has contributed to the local and broader economy,” said Meandro in a statement. “It is also an active citizen within the greater Caledon area through numerous initiatives such as the annual Airport Day fly-in and ‘Light Up the Runway’ in support of the Bethell Hospice in Inglewood.”

Julie Pomeroy was the General Manager of the BFC from 2005 to 2019, and learned to fly at the BFC in 1972. She said flying is a lot more fun when you’re the one doing the flying. 

She said even people who are scared of flying will feel better when they do an introductory flight and really learn how an aircraft operates.

In an interview with the Citizen, she explained she first nominated the BFC for induction in Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) in 2019. She said during her time as general manager, she was always in awe of what the BFC was able to accomplish, its high number of members, and its active volunteer base. It’s why she decided to nominate the BFC for the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence, and an official CAHF induction ceremony and award presentation is planned for late October of this year.

“It’s a real honour, not only for the flying club but for the Town of Caledon,” said Pomeroy. Even Canadians not familiar with the aviation world may recognize some of the other distinguished Belt of Orion recipients the BFC will soon be alongside, such as The Snowbirds (431 Air Demonstration Squadron), Canadian Forces — Search and Rescue, and the Royal Canadian Air Force Golden Hawks.

While the BFC is not the only successful flight club in Canada, Pomeroy said it stands out as a model of success due to its good governance and sustainability.

She said it provides the aviation community, and community at large, with many benefits.

Running the Brampton-Caledon Airport is no easy task and there’s many regulations that need to be upheld. At any given time, the BFC has as many as 80 to 100 employees. Membership to the BFC has been increasing — Pomeroy said in her experience there’s usually 1,100 to 1,200 members per year — but for 2022, there’s around 1,300 members.

Pomeroy said in the case of many certified airports, taxpayer money will go towards supporting them as they’re an important service. In the case of the BFC, Pomeroy said it’s always been self-sufficient.

“It’s very expensive to replace runways and manage the airport and all the different things that are done there. So that’s a big contribution to the community… the Flying Club has paid millions in taxes over the past 10 years, for example, to the Town of Caledon,” said Pomeroy. “[We’re] huge contributors as far as jobs… for example, the grass cutting is done by contractors.”

Those interested in learning more about the BFC, its history, and the programs and services it offers can visit bramptonflightcentre.com.

“The thread that weaves the success story of the Brampton Flying Club is not about one great individual or one outstanding airplane, it is about the determination and collective effort of a large group of volunteers, members and staff to achieve a mission and build a home, a grassroots community where Canadian aviators and visitors from around the world can come to be educated, supported and inspired to achieve their dreams in aviation,” said Pomeroy.



         

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