2019 Aircraft and Crew
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The Crew




 Dave McElroy and Lise Ash  Steve Drinkwater  Ian Porter

Dave McElroy

dave mcelroy2Dave learned to fly in Cranbrook in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. His flying instructor told him at the time: “One can experience any climactic condition on earth within ten minutes of the Cranbrook Airport.” This early exposure to mountain flying proved to be a solid foundation for the ensuing decades, during which he has flown more than 3850 hours in 29 different aircraft types. He is rated for both single and multi-engine aircraft and IFR (instrument flight rules).

In 2014 Dave flew a Piper Comanche around the world, a singular achievement which raised more than $150,000 for two charities: SickKids Foundation of Toronto and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance of Perth, Scotland. In 2015 he was awarded the Norton Griffiths Challenge Trophy by the Royal Aero Club in London. This award is granted only occasionally for “outstanding feats of courage, tenacity and imagination.”

In 2018 he led the first Give Hope Wings project around Central & South America, a venture which raised over $500,000 for Hope Air.

Dave was raised in Nelson, BC. He spent the first part of his life in various parts of British Columbia including Vancouver before moving to Toronto in 1983, then on to the United Kingdom in 2000. Most of his working career was spent as a senior executive in the Wood Products Industry in both Canada and Europe; he recently retired as Deputy Managing Director of Norbord Europe. Dave and his partner Debbie lived in Stirling, Scotland, from 2000 to 2015. They moved to Kelowna in 2015.

Dave has acted as a Director and Chair of five non-profit Societies over the past three decades, in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Three of these, in British Columbia and Ontario, delivered social services to the community. The other two have been flying clubs: The Scottish Aero Club and the Kelowna Flying Club, the latter of which he now serves as President.

Lise Ash

lise ash 2

In the summer of 1980, at the age of 16, I attended an Air Cadet Camp in Rivers Manitoba to get my Gliders wings. This was an absolute thrill and adventure for a small town girl from Ste. Anne, Manitoba, who didn’t know what a glider was a year earlier.

After having spent the previous winter studying to win a scholarship, getting off the bus for training camp was the beginning of the best summer of my young life. We marched, studied, made friends, laughed, and learned to FLY.

I was as short then as I am today which meant someone was always looking for a cushion to push my back far enough forward to reach the controls. One of my generals, a gruff but encouraging man, would often yell, “It’s that short-ass pilot again. Get her a cushion - hurry, hurry.” My first solo flight was great. I felt free…free as a bird. In that moment I promised myself one day I would have my power wings. By my high school graduation in 1981, two dreams were brewing in my heart: I wanted my pilot license but I also wanted to be a nurse.  By the time I found out I’d won the flying school scholarship, I had already been accepted into Nursing School. With deposits paid and my parent’s expectations clear, nursing school became the next two years of my life.   

But I promised myself that I would never lose this dream, that one day I would get my licence, and would fly.

Life got busy, time waits for no one, so my dream sat on the back burner for 35 years. At age 52, with my dedicated family of cheerleaders urging me on, my lost dream was finally re-awakened. December 30th, 2015, was a very crisp Abbotsford morning. After waiting for weather every day for the previous five days, I completed my Transport Canada Flight test and earned my long-awaited wings.  I have no words for how I felt. When I arrived home and told my family, I cried. This 52  year old mother felt like a 16-year-old girl again.  It is very sweet having a life-long dream fulfilled at this stage of life. 

In September, 2018, at my flying club’s monthly meeting, an interesting guy came to share his adventures of flying to the greatest of places.  Dave McElroy is a man of possibilities. He’s an aviator committed to flying, mentoring, having fun, making a difference and daring the skies.

In 2014 he flew around the world, and in 2018 he raised more than $500,000 for Hope Air by organizing an adventure which took two aircraft from Kelowna all the way down to the most southern point of South America on a 65 day tour. Absolutely fabulous!

As Dave shared his stories and passion for flight he reminded us that “The sky is the limit.” Something inside me said go up and meet this man. Talk to him about your bucket list dreams and see where it can go. By the next morning we were planning a fabulous trip to the Northern tip of North America in his single engine RV6. Wow!

The dream is growing and this summer 3 or more aircraft are forming up for a 2019 Give Hope Wings Flight. We will completely circumnavigate Alaska, tour the amazing Nahanni Park and Falls, fly out to the Russian border in the Bering Sea, fly out the Aleutians as far as Dutch Harbour, criss-cross BC, Yukon, NWT - and so much more.

Come join the dream and help us help Hope Air and all the Canadians that need the special type of service that Hope Air provides. 

Steve Drinkwater

steve drinkwater

Steve is the publisher at Canadian Aviator Publishing Ltd, publishers of Canadian Aviator and COPA Flight magazines, and serves as editor for the latter. He writes and dispatches the weekly COPA eFlight newsletters. His company also publishes and sells books with Canadian aviation themes online at The Aviator's Bookshelf.

From 1995 until 2002 Steve was the owner and operator of a flight school and charter company in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. He has flown a variety of single and twin-engine aircraft, including helicopters. He now owns and flies a Piper Cherokee.

Over the years Steve has served on a variety of boards in both the public company and not-for-profit sectors, and until recently served on the Sechelt (B.C.) Hospital Foundation board where he headed the governance committee. He currently serves as treasurer at the Elphinstone Aero Club on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.

As a new partner in Give Hope Wings, Steve is looking forward to funneling his passion for aviation and volunteerism toward raising funds for one of Canada’s greatest charities, Hope Air.

Ian Porter

ian porter tab photoIan got his private pilot license at age 19, flying from a small, snow-covered airstrip in Ontario. After completing degrees at the University of Western Ontario and Queen’s University, Ian began a career in commercial real estate.

After relocating to British Columbia, Ian quenched his thirst for adventure travel and flying by piloting Paragliders and Paramotors both in the mountains of British Columbia and in many countries around the world, launching and flying numerous previously un-flown routes.

He has also piloted a Schempp-Hirth Discus B glider around the mountains of B.C., enjoying thermal and ridge lift flights, to as high as 18,000’ and is now working on expanding his access to the beautiful B.C. backcountry with a 1953 Piper Supercub “taildragger”.

Ian lives in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver with his wife Michelle, 3 children (Samantha, Sydney and Christopher) and 2 “always ready for an adventure” yellow labs (Scooby & Gunner).


The Aircraft

Vans RV6, C-FYQS

Vans RV6 final

Dave flies this attractive Vans RV6, C-FYQS. RV’s are high performance “Experimental” or “Homebuilt” aircraft. Vans Aircraft was founded 45 years ago near Portland, OR. Since that time the company has designed and manufactured no fewer than ten models – from the RV1 to the RV 14 – each of which is an extraordinary aircraft. The company builds and sells the aircraft in kits, with final assembly being done by the owner. Dave purchased his RV6, C-FYQS, on returning to Canada in 2015. Both the aircraft and the pilot are equipped for instrument flight.

The superb design and flight characteristics of the RV series have resulted in Vans being the most successful homebuilt aircraft in history. There are now 10,000 RV’s flying in all parts of the world; this number comprises more than half of the world’s entire homebuilt fleet. Why this extraordinary success? Very simply – because of the beautiful Vans design which is fast, fuel efficient and versatile. RV’s are equally adept at long distance, formation and aerobatics flying. Dave is an accomplished formation flyer and an enthusiastic aerobatic pilot who also flew as a race competitor in Royal Aero Club Air Racing heats when he lived in the United Kingdom.

Piper Cherokee: C-FVFM

C fvfm

The Piper Cherokee 140 was designed initially as a training aircraft and, thanks to its docile handling and easy-to-fly characteristics, became very popular with flying schools. Many senior airline pilots today got their initial pilot training on a Cherokee 140.

The Cherokee line of aircraft was originally introduced in 1962 with the model designation of PA-28. Very early in the production run, Piper replaced the 140 hp engine with a 150 hp version, but elected to continue with the 140 designation for a few more years. Since the beginning, Piper produced many variants of the PA-28, from the 140 all the way up to the PA-28RT-201T. Other names replaced the Cherokee moniker at different points, such as Warrior, Archer, Dakota and Arrow.

So popular has the basic airframe become over the years that PA-28s are still being manufactured today, albeit with more advanced technology and power. The current models are the PA-28-236 Dakota, used more as a personal aircraft, and the PA-28-181 Archer III, used by many schools for initial pilot training.

Steve purchased his Cherokee 140 last year and has been enjoying flying it since. His has the 150 hp engine and has also been equipped with a specially designed exhaust system that allows for more horsepower during the takeoff and climb phases of flight. Original radios and most instruments have been replaced with modern equivalents. It sports new paint and interior. Previously owned by an aviation maintenance professional, it has been immaculately maintained over the years.

Pipistrel Virus SW: C-FETZ

Designed and manufactured in Slovenia, the Pipistrel Virus SW is the most economic high-speed cruiser and definitely the fastest high-wing aeroplane in its category. Made from state-of-the-art composite materials, it’s lightweight, robust and features a useful payload of more than 300 kg (660 lbs) and range of well over 700 N.M (1,300 km) carrying just 100 liters of fuel.

The Virus SW is able to operate at all elevations from sea-level up to 15.000 feet, take-off and land from short runways and over obstacles thanks to unique airbrakes, is the quietest light aircraft and has one of the lowest operating costs in its category.

Speed, efficiency and ultra-long range are signature for Pipistrel. Thanks to its superior aerodynamic efficiency, state-of-the-art composite material structure and lowest fuel consumption figures in the category, the Virus SW is ideal for High speed cross-country flying and high-mountain operations. 

C-FETZ is a 2013 Pipistrel Virus SW equipped with a 100 HP fuel injected Rotax engine, which is smooth, reliable and fuel efficient. “Echo Tango Zulu” is equipped with a glass cockpit featuring twin Dynon screens and two axis auto-pilot. Safety while flying in mountainous terrain is enhanced by impressive full weight climb performance, up to 17:1 glide ratio, and “air brakes” for steep and rapid descent over obstacles into tight landing areas. Also, a full airframe parachute system is installed for ultimate security.