A handful of float plane pilots participated in a unique fly-in event on Sept. 10 at Beaver Lake. The 2022 Splash-in event was hosted by the Lac La Biche Flying Club, Flight 165 of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA).
The event wrapped up the summer season events for the flying organization.
With 12, 6-wing water planes touching down in the lakeside community that Saturday, it was an opportunity to showcase and meet float plane pilots from across Alberta, said Ken Zachkewich, founding president of the local club.
“In our flying club, there are two of us that have float planes and we thought what better way to highlight the Lakeland area and all the beautiful water we have here than to host a fly-in for float planes in the summer.”
Pilots from the Bonnyville, Cooking Lake, Coronation and Edmonton areas attended the first ever event hosted by the club, said Zachkewich, who is also the Alberta and NWT director of COPA/western vice chair.
For many pilots who fly a small aircraft, there are many events they can attend annually across the country, but for the small group of COPA float plane pilots there aren’t as many opportunities, he says, which was a driving reason for organizing the meet-up.
“It's a smaller family. Some float planes allow you to land at an airport but a lot of them do not, so this is a good way to incorporate and include them in these community events that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.”
Zachkewich says the waterborne planes that participated came in different varieties, from straight float planes, which can only take off and land on water surfaces, to amphibious float planes like his, which are able to simultaneously land on a runway or water.
Beaver Lake meet up
The afternoon event ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and included a hot meal and an opportunity to connect with members but for the Beaver Lake community.
“We’re thankful to the residents at Holowachuk Estates for enduring and putting up with our shenanigans on the lake,” says Zachkewich.
Reflecting on the success of the fly-in, he says there are definitely plans in place to host it again, considering the positive response from attendees.
“For some guests, it was their first visit to the Lac La Biche region. Now that they’ve had a taste of the beauty of northern Alberta and the hospitality of COPA Flight 165, they will be back.”
While the summer season has wrapped up, the Lac La Biche Flying Club is gearing up to participate in the annual Winter Festival of Speed that draws hundreds of community members, tourists, race cars and pilots to the frozen Lac La Biche Lake in late February.
“We hope that the next water fly-in event on the frozen surface of Lac La Biche will be another opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.”