IFALPA's Hall of Fame

Annual Alpha Omega Gathering at Restaurant Bonaparte, Montreal,  May 7 2017

All those who attended the 72nd Annual IFALPA Conference at the Bonaventure Hotel and Alpha Omega Dinner at the Restaurant Bonaparte, had a very enjoyable weekend. We had 21 Alpha Omega members at the conference and 20 in attendance at the dinner. 

The Conference officially ran from Friday, May 5th to Monday, May 8th, but several A/O members were present for the Global Pilots’ Symposium (GPS) on Thursday.  Many others later attended the Welcome Reception that evening at the hotel.

Captain KC Mueller (ALPA-UAL-ASAP-USA) served as morning MC and kicked off GPS with a few words of welcome. GPS is a joint initiative of IFALPA, ASAP, OCCC, and SPA. IFALPA President Captain Ron Abel began with a heartfelt thanks and acknowledgement of the importance of GPS. Addressing the symposium theme of change in the aviation industry, Captain Abel appealed to the "...thought leaders in our industry, to guide these changes." Guest speaker Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief of Air Transport World, delivered the keynote speech. This insightful address from a different industry vantage point was both fresh and informative especially hearing viewpoints on customer service.  Other interesting presentations were given by Mark Hamlin, industrial psychologist, and several panel discussion groups, one on Unity in Collaboration and another on Atypical Employment.  A/O member Duane Woerth opened the afternoon session and A/O member Don Wycoff was on the afternoon panel.

On Thursday evening the Conference Welcome Reception was held at the Bonaventure Hotel.

On Friday, guest speakers from the government of Quebec, Marie Josée Blais, Assistant Deputy Minister for Science and Innovation and Aref Salem, Montreal City Councillor responsible for Transportation, opened plenary after a kind introduction from Captain Ron Abel. The President's Report to Plenary and the Annual Report of the Executive Officers caught attendees up on what has been achieved over the past twelve months and current hot topics.

Each vying for the hosting role for Conference 2019; VC President Captain Ilja Schulz and VNV President Captain Arthur von den Hudding presented videos and delivered speeches to campaign for, respectively, Conference 2019 Berlin, or Conference 2019 Amsterdam.

Special guest speaker, The Honourable Marc Garneau, Canadian Transport Minister, graciously agreed to speak at Plenary. He addressed some key issues being discussed at IFALPA this year including drone use, laser strikes, pilot fatigue, and aerodrome security measures. 

The evening Hospitality Event, hosted by Vereinigung Cockpit - German ALPA, featured a selection of German cuisine, a DJ with live saxophone accompaniment, a bar, video installations, and of course, the giant Brandenburg Gate! A fun selection of goodies was on offer to campaign for Berlin as Host city for Conference 2019. The Dutch VNV hosted a hospitality event at another location outside of the hotel.

On Saturday, May 6th, the morning consisted mainly of presentations from the sponsors.  First were the Platinum Sponsors.  Captain Mark Feuerstein of Boeing took the opportunity to introduce the newest member of the 787 Dreamliner family, the 787-10 and treated the audience to a video of its inaugural flight in Charleston. He also shared some exclusive news on the 777-9 including large format displays. Airbus Captain Harry Nelson explained that he was trying out a new presentation format this year. He ushered the audience into a new era through a video presentation featuring the projected aviation world of the year 2030 and his conversation with "Commander Abeona" a fictional pilot of the future so named for the Roman goddess of travelers.

The Gold Sponsor presentations kicked off with Captain Mark Elliot from Bombardier discussing the C-Series airplanes. The next speaker was Captain Yan Souza de Abreu from Embraer who presented the status of their E2 Program, "A new design on a proven platform”. Mr. Christopher McGregor from ATR presented a talk focused on safety. CAE was represented by Captain Frank Collins who discussed their pilot training programs and explained that supplying pilots to an industry in desperate need of them is what CAE focuses on.  He explained, "At CAE we create over 1,000 pilots a year through our training." Mr. Larry Lachance of NAV CANADA gave us a look into the future of ADS-B surveillance with their implementation of these services in the northern regions of Canada. Last, but certainly not least, came the presentation from Runway Safe by Mr. Marc Klein who declared, surprisingly, "I truly hope you never use our product!"

On Saturday morning we had a meeting of the Alpha Omega Coordinators in attendance.  Miguel Marin, Terry Lutz, Dennis Olden, Stu Julien, Ted Murphy and I discussed topics of interest to the A/O Club and also what to present to Ron Abel, IFALPA President, later that day.  We decided that the A/O website has considerable value but needs more membership participation and perhaps some minor adjustments to encourage usage. We also agreed that the fees for the IFALPA conference were too high for A/O members and we should discuss this with Capt. Abel.  Miguel Marin was nominated to back up Steve Last as website focal.

After this meeting we had lunch with Capt. Abel and Christoph Schewe, IFALPA Managing Director, to discuss the A/O Club.  We were very courteously received and it became evident that Capt. Abel is a firm supporter of the Club.  He said that IFALPA will take our request for lower fees into serious consideration.  He also said that he would like to have an annual meeting with the club coordinators but perhaps over a beer next year.

That evening was the Awards Dinner with most of the A/O members in attendance.  As the doors opened our members secured 2 tables for A/O while others were invited guests of IFALPA delegations.  It was a very nice dinner with a full program of awards and raffled prizes.  There was an active disc jockey who attempted to match music with each award (not too successfully at times!).  The award winners were as follows:

The Polaris Award for heroic aviation achievement was awarded to crew members of the Modern Express rescue:

 Captain: Carlos Ferreira, First Officer: David Abad, Winchman: Antonio López-Cerón, Rescuer: Daniel Fernández

Crew members of the Gure Uxua rescue: Captain: Philip Andre, First Officer: David Abad, Winchman: Brian Chouza, Rescuer: Daniel Fernández

Capt. Abel then awarded the Scroll of Merit to three distinguished pilots for their meritorious and invaluable accomplishments:

Capt. Matti Allonen, Captain Thomas Mildenberger, SFO Mark Rogers

Presidential Citations were presented by Capt. Ron Abel for their outstanding contributions to IFALPA:

Captain Sayeed Mahb Helal,  Carole Couchman, MBE

After the presentations, Capt. Abel told the audience that the Scroll of Merit winners will have the honor of becoming A/O members that Sunday.  This was a very nice gesture and recognition of the club at the highest level.

On Sunday afternoon IFALPA sponsored an early evening event at Cirque du Soleil which is headquartered in Montreal.  Cirque du Soleil is an acrobatic show held under a large circus tent featuring a variety of spectacular performances with colorful costumes and exciting music.  Members walked the 20 minutes from the hotel to the event and were treated to a very nice event.

After the event our A/O members walked to the Bonaparte Restaurant which was only 10 minutes from the site.  Others met at the restaurant.  We had a private room with our own bar and service staff.  We had drinks for about 30 minutes before starting dinner around 8:30.  The menu consisted of four courses.  The first course was either salad or pea soup.  The second course was snails, goat cheese with almonds or scallops and shrimp.  The main course was duck, salmon or beef.  A “Symphony” of house-made desserts followed.  The meal was superb and the service even better.  Many thanks to Miguel Marin and his wife Claudia for locating the restaurant and sampling the food beforehand.

During dinner we welcomed three new members to the club.  Capt. Matti Allonen, Capt. Thomas Mildenberger and SFO Mark Rogers received their special ties after telling an appropriate joke and something about themselves.  We also had a number of good jokes told as the dinner progressed and a special poem recited by Denis Leonard.

We had very nice turnout for the evening with 36 in total and 20 Alpha Omega members. We were very pleased to host IFLAPA President Ron Abel as our guest.

Many who came to Montreal had been there before and had their special places to visit.  The Cathedral, the Old City, and local tours were some of the highlights enjoyed by the members. 

On Monday Berlin was selected as the venue for the 2019 IFALPA.  Singapore has expressed an interest in hosting the 2020 Conference.

Next year’s IFALPA Conference will be in Luxembourg from March 16th to March 19th 2018.  The hotel or hotels have not been identified as of yet, but there will probably be several as there are no hotels large enough for the all of the attendees.  Our A/O dinner will be on Sunday, March 18th, and we will be looking for another great venue.

Special thanks to Capt. Ron Abel, Christoph Schewe, Ana Zachovy, and the rest of IFALPA staff for their outstanding support during the year and for our dinner.

The following is a list of attendees.

Eli                                            Bahat

Chris and Gudrun                   Denke

Fred                                        Deveaux

Georg                                      Fongern

Ray and Colleen                     Gelinas

Boaz                                        Hativa

Jim and Verna                         Johnson

Stu and Carina                        Julian

Denis                                       Leonard

Terry and Nancy                      Lutz

Miguel and Claudia                 Marin

Ted                                          Murphy

Dennis and Shelley Stallworth Olden

Zvi and Edna                           Rosenberg

Frank and Maureen                 Santoni

Charlie                                     Simpson

Francis and Catherine             Truchetet

Martin and Joan                       Vanstone

Gary and Kathleen                   Wagner

Greg and Lynn                         Wolfsheimer


Ron                                          Abel

New Members:                      

Matti                                        Allonen

Thomas                                   Mildenberger

Mark                                        Rogers

Regrets were received from: Rick Brennan, Fanie Coetzee, German Diaz Barriga, Dennis Dolan, Skip Eglet, Jussi Ekman, Greg Fallow, Heinz Fruwirth, Brian Greeves, Jimmy Ho, Harry Hopkins, Jon Hutchinson, Feroze Kahn, Tom Kreamer, Steve Last, Carlos Limon, Ron Macdonald, Paul McCarthy, Dave Moore, Frank Mueller-Nalbach, Roger Mulberge, Derry Pearce, Bob Perkins, Joachim Puff, Paul Rice, Wim Shuurman, Mark Seal, Robert Swain, Hans Peder Tanderup, Bob Tweedy, Hank Vermeulen, Richard Woodward.


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Ray Gelinas on Fri, 30/06/2017 - 21:55

Excellent job Frank.

It was great to see everyone again in Montreal. Colleen and I hope to be able to join you next year in Luxembourg.

Off to Canada's 150th Birthday tomorrow on Parliament Hill. Hope to hoist a pint or two. Cheers!

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Frank Santoni on Sat, 01/07/2017 - 23:22

Hi Ray,
Happy 150th to Canada. Maureen and I had a great time on PEI and Novo Scotia and will send along details in an email soon. Luxembourg should be another great time. See you then if not sooner.

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