Parrywinkle, April 26, 2018


Outgoing Manager, Joan Hughes (centre in white), is toasted by the Thirsty Thursday Girls at Hudson Legion Branch #115 in appreciation of her service and friendship there for the past 15 years.

Did I ever tell you about the first, and only, time I flew in a small Cessna plane? Together with my beautiful Sunshine, it was in February about 30 years ago over the Grand Canyon. Being the gentleman that I am, I let the other six passengers board first. And so it was that I ended up in the co-pilot's seat.


FREAKIN' FUJIYAMA! - “Would you like to get a closer look at those wild mustangs down there James?” asked the pilot and my new best buddy. “Sure. I would love to.” At which point, like a fighter plane peeling off for the attack, we swooped below the rim and all hell broke loose.

Sitting right behind me, the tiny wife of a most corpulent Japanese gentleman started pounding me on the shoulder screaming something unintelligible while gesticulating wildly at the small window to my right. Looking out, I saw in the distance a mountain with snow on its peak.

“Yes, just like Fujiyama your sacred mountain in Japan,” I replied giving her my biggest smile. At which point her hubby upchucked all over me. Oops. It suddenly dawned on me. Thinking I really was the co-pilot, she was asking me to open the window so he could get some air!

Mustangs forgotten, we made a speedy landing. With this diminutive dynamo screaming and hitting me all the way down. I can only imagine what she must have told their family upon her return to Japan. Possibly, “Never go to America. Your husband is sick, you ask for help, and they make jokes and laugh at you!”

And that's the truth dear readers. And by the way, I never did get the chance to explain that I was a passenger, a Canadian, and didn't speak a word of Japanese!


LEAVING LAURENTIDE AVIATION - All of which came flooding back to me earlier this week when I once again sat in a Cessna right here in Les Cèdres courtesy of ever-young Irish-born Hudsonite, Terry McConnon who, at the age of 81, has just sold his beloved Laurentide Aviation, Canada's oldest flight school that he has owned for the past 20 years. And who told me that ever since he was 18, he has dreamed of one day being the oldest commercial pilot still flying in all of Canada. Which he probably is!


HURRAH FOR HUGHES - And now to Hudsonite Joan Hughes, no relation to wacko Howard Hughes who built the giant Spruce Goose, a prototype strategic airlift flying boat which made just one brief flight back in 1947 and which was actually built of birch. Go figure!

Well, after 15 years as the stalwart manager of Hudson Legion Branch #115, and before that with 25 years at Whitlock Golf and Country Club, Joan has officially retired to do some travelling, visit family, and enjoy life to the full.

Fêted with a scrumptious buffet in most convivial company by the Legion's Thirsty Thursday Girls recently, Joan, who has also directed the kitchen there over the years with considerable aplomb told me “I am very touched. I have really enjoyed my time here and while I will obviously continue to be a member, it is time to move on to do other things and I know that I have left the legion in good hands with Terry.”

See story here.


CONN WOULD BE PROUD – That Terry being Terry Connolly, named this week as her successor and with yet another aviation link. For Terry's late father Dennis, who passed away in 2013 and who would have been 100 years old this past Sunday, April 22, had always dreamed of being a pilot, training with flying clubs until World War II broke out and he joined the Air Force.

With the rank of Sergeant Pilot, Conn as he was known was shipped overseas in 1941 where he flew Spitfires and met his beautiful bride-to-be, Lilian, in London, England. Following 178 operational trips, including six sorties on the Dieppe Raid, he would go on to instruct Hurricane and Kitty Hawk pilots here in Canada before joining Trans Canada Airlines and, after over 31 years, left Air Canada - where he was affectionately dubbed Perry Como of the skies - to pursue a retirement that lasted 37 years with his beloved Lilian and their family.

Said Terry, who was twice manager of the Hudson Yacht Club over an 11-year period and who coordinates The British Car Show held every two years in Hudson with the next on May 27, “I am really looking forward to my new role. The legion contributes so much to our community and they are all wonderful people.” Ain't that the truth!

And that's a wrap!


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