Story and Photos By JEAN-PIERRE BONIN
I like to call myself an aviation freak.
Though I never became a pilot, I have been an aviation lover since I was a teenager, but it was not until some decades later that I stumbled into general aviation. In 2000, a neighbor began building a Ultravia Pelican Sport 600 kit plane in his garage and that was the start of a whole new era for me.
From an aircraft photographer, attempting, like others, to upload some pictures to websites like Airliners.net, I slowly began to widen my interest (and contacts), making me a more complete aviation photographer. Through the last 10 years or so, I have witnessed the true Spirit of Flight as pilots, owners, mechanics and just “plane” volunteers have shared their passion with me.
Youngsters are always fascinated by airplanes. Thanks to pilots like Dan Fortin (above) for keeping the flame alive.
My son and his girlfriend had flown before in airliners. Buying them a sightseeing tour in a Cessna brought a whole new meaning to flight for them.
Sometimes aviation passion can become contagious and make you go beyond your wildest dreams. Here is a plane from a group of students in mechanical engineering at Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, who decided to design, build, test, assemble and fly an airplane, starting from scratch. This was their end of studies project. The Épervier first took flight early 2009, from an idea to reality in just under two-a-half years! A awesome feat!
Vintage Wings of Canada members and volunteers go for a formal picture. VWC is a “flying museum” founded by Michael Potter in Gatineau, Quebec. Here again, time and energy are required and a great deal of it comes from volunteers who give so much so the general public can enjoy the view AND the sound of vintage aircraft as they are flown in airshows around Canada and the U.S.
A fly-in not only attracts pilots, but also aviation enthusiasts from the surrounding area — an excellent way to promote GA and discuss aviation with everyone. One can go to a fly-in by car, but the real way to go is by plane!
At the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu fly-in held during the International Balloon Festival, each pilot and their passengers arriving by air are given free passes to the entertainment site.
Air shows are always appreciated by all as thousands gather to see the routine of teams and acrobatic flying.
Perhaps we could say airshows are a good way to bring up whole new generations of pilots…
But flying is still the best way to enjoy GA! By day…
or by night!
Jean-Pierre Bonin is a retiree from College Ahuntsic in Montreal. Though his professional life in education was not related to the world of aviation, he has long been fascinated by flight. His leisure time was often invested in photography, be it birds or aircraft. In recent years, he became a regular contributor for the Quebec Aviators and Bush Pilots Association magazine La Brousse, also periodically contributing to COPA Flight, the monthly journal of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. Participating in many fly-ins and social events of aviators in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, he became friends with quite a few general aviation pilots and slowly developed a local regarding his photographic work. Thus, he has been invited to events throughout the years and has had the opportunity to fly with numerous pilots and quite a nice array of aircrafts (balloons, ultralights and pendulars, single or double-winged aircrafts, single or multi engines, pushers or pullers, on wheels, skis or floats, helicopters, warbirds…). Quebec aviators like to remind him that he probably flies more than most of them in a given year.
Though some of his pictures have been published in aviation magazines, his work is mostly available through uploads on Flickr. With close to 30,000 pictures online, most related to aviation and aviators, there is no doubt he finds little time to ask himself what he will do now that he has retired from work!
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