York Soaring Association was founded in 1961 by Walter Chmela, who came to Canada from his native Austria in 1950. Operations commenced when Walter personally purchased two Doppleraab two-seat trainers and an Auster (seen in the header of this article) as a tow-plane. The club operated from a number of different airfields over the next few years during which time the Doppleraabs and the Auster were replaced with two Ka-7’s and a 150HP Piper Pa-12, respectively. The fleet grew during this time with the addition of two single-seat gliders: one Mu-13 and one LK-10.
Walter realized that the future of York Soaring was dependent upon the club owning its own airfield and in 1969 he purchased the field the club still operates on today. The field was initially a 100 acre property 8km east of the town of Arthur and, upon purchasing it, a hangar was built and a single 2000 ft. East-to-West runway was graded. A few years later, an adjoining 100 acre property was added and a NorthWest-to-SouthEast runway as well as a SouthWest-to-NorthEast runway was built. Another, larger hanger was added for club aircraft and the original hanger was left for use by private owners.
During the 1970’s the operation underwent another round of upgrade to its fleet of gliders and all gliders were replaced by a fleet of six – 2-33 basic trainers, two 2-32’s high performance trainers, two Blaniks, one 1-34, three 1-26.s and 2-1-23’s. During this time the tow-plane fleet grew to four – three Pa-18’s and a Pa-12, and a hangar for the tow-planes was built.
Today, after the operation was purchased from Walter by the York Soaring Association (YSA), the club continues with the ongoing task of fleet upgrading. YSA now has a powerful fleet of tow-planes and an assortment of gliders and sailplanes for everyone from a beginner to an expert level glider pilot. Lear more about our fleet here.
York Soaring Association is now a member run organization which has developed over the years to become a lot more than merely property and aircraft. Its 150 members offer a great variety of talents and volunteer to take on many of the duties that need to be carried out to make the club run smoothly. With the exception of aircraft maintenance all work is done by the club members.
York Soaring has an active social committee that puts on regular barbecues and fundraising dinners; has a group that specializes in mentoring badge and cross-country flying; and others that take part in excursions to other flying venues around the world such as the USA, France, and New Zealand.
York Soaring is also the home base of Youth Flight Canada and Freedom’s Wings. YFC provides bursaries to deserving young people who cannot on their own afford to fly. YFC pays 50% of their nominal membership fee and all but $5.00 of each flight. FW’s which has its own Twin Grob, is dedicated to providing flight experience and flying training to physically challenged people free of charge. In fact York Soaring is proud to have the only paraplegic gliding instructor in Canada as one of our members.
When Walter started the club his aim was to make the wonderful sport of soaring available to almost anyone who was interested and to young people in particular because that is where he saw the future of soaring. The bursaries offered by YFC, air experience flights and training for the disabled, and the annual air cadet camps are the manifestation of this goal. In fact in May 2007 Walter received national recognition for his almost 70 years of service to soaring by being inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame.
By following the vision for York Soaring that Walter had almost 50 years ago York Soaring continues to bring new members into the very special world of soaring. Whatever your age, able-bodied, or physically challenged, you are welcome at York Soaring. It’s getting better all the time.