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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedSpecial anniversary for Canadian ultralights
Story and photo by Meghan Plummer

John Woudstra and Claude Roy brought their Challenger II amphibious ultralight aircraft from Canada to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a program that allows Canadian ultralight pilots to fly their aircraft across the United States border.

Ten years ago, Canadian ultralight pilots couldn’t fly their aircraft across the U.S. border. That is, until Claude Roy had something to say about it.

Roy worked with Transport Canada and the FAA to create a program that allowed Canadian ultralights and their pilots to fly into the United States. Roy made the inaugural flight to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2000 in his amphibious Challenger II; this year, the same aircraft is parked in the Ultralight area, celebrating the 10th anniversary of that first cross-border ultralight flight.

Flying the Challenger since 1983, Roy is an ultralight instructor, president of the International Challenger Owners Association, and a Transport Canada examiner for passenger carrying in ultralights.

John Woudstra, Roy’s flying partner, parked his Challenger II next door. The two men flew from Ottawa, Ontario, to Oshkosh 800 miles, in just more than six days—four days of flying, two days weathered out in Shawano, Wisconsin. They arrived at Oshkosh Sunday morning.

“We try to pull off one of these stunts every year,” Woudstra said of the 800-mile flight. “When you try to fathom the thought of flying an ultralight aircraft 800 miles, it’s not in most people’s realm of thinking.”

This was Roy’s third year flying into EAA AirVenture, but Woudstra’s first, having driven in past years.

“This, for me, quite truthfully, was a bucket list item—to fly into AirVenture,” Woudstra said.

Currently, U.S. sport pilots cannot fly across the Canadian border, but Woudstra said he hopes a regulation will be in place within the next two years. “We’re doing our best to foster a relationship and make sure it’s reciprocal across the border,” Woudstra said.

Roy and Woudstra, who are camping under their Challengers’ wings, plan to stay through Tuesday, depending on the weather.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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