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Flying For Canada
Pilot Ken Bouchard promotes unity his own way

  • Reprinted from CARP NEWS, Ontario Edition, June 1997
    Cover Story by Roberta Avery

Bouchard is not a name usually associated with flying the Maple Leaf for Canadian unity. But that's exactly what Ken Bouchard plans to do when he launches the two-seater plane he's been building since retiring 11 years ago.

A resident of Port Severn, Ont., this adventurous 71 year-old wants to let Canada know that not everyone in the Bouchard family wants to see Quebec separate. To press home his point, he's even painted large Maple Leafs on the wings and fuselage of the Plane.

"I decided I would fly the Maple Leaf on the sides and wings of my little two-seater and perhaps make my fellow Canadians more aware of their flag and the great and wonderful country we live in," Bouchard says.

Bouchard - a distant relative of Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard - has invested more than 1,800 man-hours working on his plane, which he built in the garage adjoining his home (a garage, incidentally, which he also built himself). The cost of making this dream come true? Bouchard puts it around C$33,000.

The [STOL CH 701] land, sea and ice plane (it has been fitted with skis and floats, as well as wheels) has so- far passed a series of strict government tests, and Bouchard has now received the final paper work - he's now ready to take a test flight.

"When you're my age, and done it all, it feels good to have built your own plane," he says. "But, to tell the truth, I'm more interested in trying to help my country. I've decided I will take my little puddle-jumper to the air and let people see that Ken Bouchard is just one Canadian trying to keep our country intact."

Flying is a passion that has certainly been in Bouchard's blood for a long time. He remembers when, as children, he and his elder brother, Harry, would call themselves "The Right Brothers" and fantasize flying across the globe.

Ken Bouchard, as a young
pilot in the 1940s.
kb2.jpg (13847 bytes)

When the Second World War broke out, Harry wasted no time enlisting, eventually becoming a flight officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Harry was shot down and killed carrying out a night raid over Germany. Ken was only 17 when the news of his brother's death reached home, but it didn't stop him from enlisting in the RCAF, where he served as a bomber navigator.

It wasn't until after the war that he obtained his pilot's license, but he's been flying ever since. The love of aircraft led him to pursue a career as an assembly inspector working on hundreds of CF-100 All Weather jetfighters, and his hard work eventually led to his being assigned to the famous AVRO Arrow.

Bouchard displays a great deal of pride when speaking of the Canadian fighter-interceptor, which he says was "years ahead of its time." Watching the Arrow take off on its first test flight was one of his proudest moments.

"I had worked all night, but I stayed to watch the greatest flying spectacle I have ever seen," he says. That was on March 25, 1958. Less than a year later Prime Minister John Diefenbaker cancelled the project. For Bouchard and the other staff working on the Arrow, it was a.day that would forever be known as "Black Friday."

But those times are far behind him now, and Bouchard is hell-bent on leaving his own small mark on the pages of Canadian flight history. And, he's happy to add, his wife Peggy loved lending a helping hand. "I'm looking forward to flying with Ken in this plane," she says, adding she hopes she'll get to see more of him now the project is complete. "I only got to see him at mealtimes but I never minded. He was doing something he enjoyed. He's always got something on the go."

Roberta Avery is a Midland-based freelance writer.

CARP NEWS.  Reprinted from CARP NEWS, Ontario Edition, June 1997, Cover Story


NOTE: This article represents the viewpoints of the author, and not necessarily those of Zenith Aircraft Company.

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