Message From The President

Hello fellow pilots and members,

This overdue edition of The Launch/Le Déco will reach you toward the end of the season and probably in high spirits, and that is great! Without wanting to put a damper on those, please allow me to start with some very serious and important items. Safety and accidents are yet again the first topics that I want to address.

With a second lawsuit involving a tandem student, HPAC has now to split its attention and resources on two fronts simultaneously. This is too much for our little organization and for our insurers! And this puts us in a very tentative position for our next negotiations with our insurers. This already seems to have concrete consequences as your deductible went up to $5000. (HPAC has decided to TRY to mitigate that increase in special cases.)

Another major change that arrived unannounced is that our insurer suddenly advised us that minors aren’t covered by our policy! (Yes, I too was surprised by that one!) The argument put forth is that waivers signed by minors or for minors are invalid. And this is no small issue because, if it’s an issue as far as third party liability and our insurance, it is even more of an issue as far as direct liability of the instructor or tandem instructor working with a minor (in cases of bodily injury for example).   HPAC has chosen not to prohibit participation of minors, but instead warn the instructors of the legal implications of this situation. It’s a decision that will have to be weighed by each instructor. In the meantime, we at HPAC are determined to research how this situation is dealt with elsewhere so that we could hopefully find a solution acceptable to our insurer. One thing to consider in the case of third party liability is that a minor who is the pilot in command (even under supervision) could incur more liability towards a non-participant (landowner, bystander). Food for thought. And HPAC will have to reserve the right to amend its policy regarding minors as we research and work through the legal ramifications.

HPAC Annual Directors Meeting – Whitehorse, Yukon Spring 2015
From left to right Maxine Westhead (Atlantic Canada), Tom Sliepen (Saskatchewan), Dom Juretic (HPAC President, Québec), Steve Kurth (Yukon), Scott Watwood (BC), Bruce Busby (HPAC Vice-President, Alberta/NWT), Margit Nance (Executive Director), Gilles Normandeau (Manitoba/Nunavut), Nick Jones (Ontario), Tim Parker (HPAC Treasurer).

To protect HPAC and its instructors from legal ramifications stemming from accidents and to ever pursue measures that promote safety, a few requirements including mandatory reporting of accidents will now be sanctionable by disciplinary measures. The annual reports will also be not only mandatory but sanctionable. They won’t require student names any more, however. Tandem 2s will have to give to tandem instructor trainees a form stating that they have passed the initial course and including spaces to list the pilots with whom they completed their initial flights. This form will them have to be presented to the T2 for sign off.

The speed flying program is put on hold until further consultations with USHPA and until we develop a more thorough curriculum.

Speaking of curriculum, in forging ahead with our instructional overhaul, we will now be tackling a national curriculum for HG and PG. This will be achieved with a lot of preparation in the coming months and a late fall meeting of all our senior instructors. Along with a set curriculum for the training of our instructors and a new code of conduct, we believe that these and all the measures taken in the first part of this huge overhaul will be very strong cornerstones on which our sport will stand for decades to come.

Increased safety should be favored by these measures, but we won’t be coy by not saying that another aim of all these efforts is to have a more solid foundation for HPAC and its instructors, legally speaking. That’s why we say to our instructors that these requirements could one day be their biggest ally.

On to other issues: We are working hard and getting closer to an electronic waiver that would stand up to current legal standards. The main issue is finding an acceptable format for an electronic signature. Once this is achieved, HPAC will have crossed over to the realm of the paperless and this will further simplify and streamline our business processes.

This year we held our Annual Directors’ meeting in God’s country. I’m talking about one of the most beautiful regions of our country, the Yukon. A region with a burgeoning pilot population. It was a privilege to meet this bunch of free spirited pilots and build this bridge that will ensure that they feel part of our national community of pilots. This privileged bunch is lucky by being blessed with more flying sites than pilots! And the beauty of these sites is intense and their potential is awesome as proven by Shaun Kitchen’s amazing flight in June! Wouldn’t it be amazing to hold our nationals there sometime in the future?!

On top of 36 hours of intense meetings, our host director, Steven Kurth and instructor Trevor Mead-Robbins showed us some the sites and some directors got to sample them, in some cases as late as 10 o’clock at night!

Steven Kurth took me and (Treasurer and newly named Board Director!) Tim Parker to the Alaska border where we scouted flying potential in Kluane National Park (an amazing place!). All directors came back totally enthused from this incredible place, where we saw great sites, met amazing people, and had one of our most productive meetings (it was easy to get fooled with the length of our meetings as it was full daylight at 10 o’clock!).

Thank you to Steven, Trevor and the great bunch of pilots that we met!

Getting back to Tim Parker (our Treasurer), the board thought it would be a great idea to officially give a seat on the board to our Chief Financial Officer. Tim is the guardian of our collective assets, and by this measure he will have a say on every discussion that could affect your money and the vote that comes with it.

While we were in Whitehorse, we got the most fantastic news. After more than 8 years of hard work, patience and perseverance, we got the news that Parks Canada and Jasper National Park were ready to proceed with a 2 year trial that will finally allow us to fly in a national park! This surprise came with a request to hold a public event to mark the occasion. So a few of us didn’t even have time to come home and had to plan to get to Jasper on the following weekend. We selected a small but representative group to represent HPAC and that’s how we chose Will Gadd (HPAC’s ambassador-at-large, Alan Polster HPAC’s Parks Canada liaison, Martina Lang HPAC instructor, Martin Palmaz USHPA’s Executive Director), Margit Nance (HPAC’s Executive Director), and Scott Watwood, Bruce Busby, Dom Juretic (HPAC directors).

The event was planned for Saturday May 9th and you know how the weather plays tricks on you as soon as you plan an event for our sport? Well, Mother Nature forgot about that one that day! As we got up and saw the blue skies, we were surprised. Then as we got to the top of Whistler Mountain and stepped off the tram, we were almost suspicious. 10k wind coming straight in on the launch!?

Too good to be true? It was too good, but true! We all laid our wings out on the summit snow as the guests watched and the media people recorded the event with different tools. Following the lead of Will Gadd, we all took off in succession and were all awestruck by the gorgeous scenery of Jasper Park. Quite distracting! We landed at the official LZ (Marmot Meadows) in 22 degree weather! All involved had just one word to describe the day: perfect!

And now comes the hard part. Not screwing up this 2 year trial! And that’s why we posted and official guidelines page that must be read and strictly followed. Please go and read it if you think of visiting. I’m sure that no one would like to be the pilot that screws up this amazing opportunity we have at Jasper.

I usually end my President’s Word by trying to find creative ways to remind everyone to fly safe, but this year I have to go a step further. I just don’t want any accidents this year. I want a safe and fulfilling season for all of you and no accidents!!

To our instructors, I say double down on safety. We just can’t afford to do otherwise. Our insurers are already jittery. And be safe legal wise. Being safe legal wise starts with being frank with your students and tandem students. They deserve to know that this is a dangerous sport that we are working very hard on to make it as safe as possible with knowledge, technique, rigour and discipline.

Being informed consumers and participants should make them less likely to sue you, even if you did your job right. And lastly, no waivers, no flying!!

Please keep an eye on your inbox and the website for the dates of the upcoming annual (online) general meeting.

Summer’s short, so go out and get up there!

Dom Juretic
HPAC President
HPAC Director, Québec