Local Pilot Receives National Recognition
Vermilion’s Geoff Hancock was presented a Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Appreciation Award on August 25.
Several guests flew in including COPA Director for Alberta/Northwest Territories and Western Vice Chair, Ken Zachkewich, from Lac La Biche to hand deliver the plaque. After celebrating with a barbecue, everyone had a chance to offer their congratulations.
“Here in Vermilion, you have a very active chapter and it’s nice to come and see the faces behind this. One thing I’m jealous of is you having a mechanic,” said Zachkewich. “I was learning to fly ultralights when I met Geoff about 24 years ago. He flew a CL-215 water bomber and we’ve been friends ever since. In fact, when I was walking down the aisle, he was fighting fires and although he couldn’t attend, he flew over three times. Geoff really inspires people to do more - to stretch their limits. Geoff once lent me a COPA newspaper, and now I have three airplanes. That sort of inspiration is instrumental in aviation. A few weeks ago it was announced that he was one of COPA’s award recipients, and although he is very deserving, I didn’t actually have anything to do with it - he was nominated by one of your own.”
As an aircraft maintenance engineer, Hancock owns and operates Hancraft Aero which has been located at the Vermilion Airport for the past four years. Stationed there, he performs aircraft maintenance and repair for pilots in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia; and he also volunteers his time on the Airport Advisory Committee with the Town of Vermilion.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Geoff on the field here and the nomination was made for his passion for aviation, but more importantly his passion for aviation in our community. With Geoff’s skills and attention to detail, he is a vital part of Vermilion’s aviation community both with his aircraft maintenance and overall promotion of the importance of the airport or garnering support for its many important issues. Having invested in our airport and making sure we are safe in the air, it was a no brainer,” said Shawn Jacula. “Having him based at the Vermilion Airport truly puts our community on the map making it a destination for aviators. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Geoff on an airplane project and it was impossible to find an aspect of a re-build he isn’t capable of. His expertise will keep many local aviators in the air for years to come, and invite the next generation to aviation.”
Several families enjoyed the celebration, and Zachkewich noted that, “Being involved in COPA gives you a sense of community; and all those people are brought together by a shared passion. It’s nice to see all of the children here because we are seeing an aging pilot community in the country, and we want to inspire youth so aviation will become a priority for them also. The other thing that is great about the COPA community is that it represents 13,000 members across the country, and so whether working with municipal governments or Transport Canada, we have a strong voice.”
Upon receiving his award, Hancock said, “Thank you very much; this is a real honour. This is a team effort. A few years ago they dug in and fought hard to keep the airport, and it’s still here thanks to every single person with the support of their families. It couldn’t be done without this entire group.”