2018 saw the 11th annual Interprovincial Air Tour (IPAT), organized this year by Lee Arsenault and Marilyn Staig, both of them taking over from long-time organizer Carol Cooke. IPAT is a great opportunity for general aviation pilots to demonstrate the value of local airports to their communities. It also provides a venue for like-minded people to get together and enjoy their favourite hobby and each other’s company. People come from near and far to participate, and there was a nice mixture of repeat participants as well as some new people.
We started in Orillia, Ont. a day early on Wednesday, May 30 due to bad weather forecasted for Thursday. There were 46 planes and 95 people registered for the tour, and 18 aircraft with with 36 people flew in on Wednesday. The Orillia Rama Airport (NJ4) had been extensively renovated with a longer runway, new hangars, a new FBO and a fabulous new restaurant. On Thursday morning, more people arrived by either plane or car, although some participants opted to bypass Orillia due to the weather. We presented the IPAT plaque to airport manager Arnie Pate. We had an awesome lunch at the new airport restaurant, Tailwinds Bar and Grill, on Thursday and stayed at the recently renovated Waterfront Champlain Hotel in downtown Orillia.
Friday morning we awoke to rain outside and organized chaos in the hotel lobby as people were trying to decide whether to fly, drive or take a school bus to our next destination, Arnprior, Ont. A large number decided to fly, a smaller number decided to drive, and a handful went on the school bus. Not much fun sitting in a car or a school bus for four hours when you would much prefer flying your airplane.
By early afternoon we all made it to Arnprior’s airport (NP3) and met with the people who had bypassed Orillia. We presented the IPAT plaque to airport manager Dan Lynch and airport commission chairman Ted Strike. After checking into the Arnprior Quality Inn, we took two buses to Gatineau to board a dinner cruise on the Ottawa River. The dinner was good, but the cruise was cut short by a faulty generator. Murphy ruled again but we still had a good time.
On Saturday the weather was finally warm and sunny. Many of our participants hopped in their planes and flew to several different fly-out locations for lunch. Our grand finale on Saturday night was a rocking hangar party hosted by COPA Flight 33 at the Arnprior airport. The flight put on a fantastic barbecue dinner, including homemade salads and desserts. All this was accompanied by a magician, a classical guitarist and the Richmond Ramblers, a bluegrass bands. COPA Flight 33 went above and beyond to welcome IPAT 2018 to Arnprior.
Sunday morning we dispersed by plane, car or bus back to our home locations. Hope to see everyone back and really hope the weather is better next year. For more information, email us at leemar@interprovincialairtourorg.
by Lee Arsenault