June 25, 1947 - January 29, 2023
~ Final Flight Plan Open; Ready for Take Off ~
Ronald Douglas Wyers was born June 25, 1947, in Toronto, Ontario filed his final flight plan on January 29, 2023, from his hangar at the Grand Forks Municipal Airport with his co-pilot Cheryle and ground support pup Krewe by his side.
His children Jeffrey Wyers and Kristine Wilson (Nevin Thompson) and his grandsons Myles and Maddox, stepson Trevor Wood (Predrag Rapo), sisters Gail Hindle (Paul), Linda (Darrell) Brown, brother Marvin, in-laws Susan (Ron) Citulsky, Ed (Audrey) Rosenberg, mother-in-law Margaret Rosenberg, aunts & uncles, cousins and nieces/nephews will dearly miss him.
Ron developed an interest in aviation at a young age when his Uncle Bob McQuarrie took him to Regina Airport followed by building and flying model aircraft. After Graduating in 1965 from Mount Elizabeth High School in Kitimat BC, Ron enrolled at Devry Institute of Technology in Toronto but soon realized it wasn't his destiny.
He returned to Kitimat and in 1968 enrolled in a parachuting/skydiving course making his first jump in January 1969 at Smithers. Training continued and in October of 1969 he received the Canadian Sport Parachuting Licence C 361 and Jumpmaster Rating.
Ron had now developed a love for flying and in 1970 enrolled in a flight training course, and received his Private Pilot Licence in March 1972 & Night Rating endorsement in January 1973.
In 1973 Ron moved to Kelowna, and opened a skydiving training facility 'Skydive Okanagan' that he operated until July 1990. During that time he received a Level 1 Coaching Certification issued in 1980 by the Canadian National Coaching Certification Program and in 1983 received the Class A Instructor Rating issued by the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association.
He organized the 1987 & 1989 Canadian National Paraski Championships at Big White. Kelowna Regatta skydiving performances filled the summers delighting spectators.
During these years, Ron worked in the construction industry in Prince George and Kelowna's Imthorn Construction and purchased Fires N'Fans in 1979 installing solar heating systems, solar window film and woodburning appliances.
A career change in 1990 saw Ron enrolled at British Columbia Institute of Technology in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Program and he received his AME Licence in April 1994.
He has owned and operated Western Aviation Services Ltd. since May 1993 and provided aircraft maintenance at the Boundary Bay and Langley, BC airports until 1997 when the company was relocated to the airport at Grand Forks.
Certification was granted by Transport Canada to operate as an Approved Maintenance Organization which allowed aircraft maintenance and major modifications to be performed on commercially operated aircraft as well as private aircraft. The Ultra-Light flight training division began in early 2012 under the name "Westav Sport Aviation" providing professional training in the sport aviation sector. Expansion plans were underway to provide all Transport Canada approved flight training programs when Ron was diagnosed with ALS.
Ron worked with commitment and his talent was endless. He took on obstacles he didn't know could exist at the airport. So much so that he later made a life changing statement: "I picked the right airport just the wrong town."
Renovating an open hangar that took on many functions from air worthiness inspections, aircraft restorations for clients, western Canadian distributor for RANS advanced sport class kit planes imported from Hayes, Kansas, a container of floats from Czechoslovakia, assist build and partial build programs with new kit owners, fabric covering workshops, Stewart Systems water borne paint distributorship and paint shop illustrated the talent Ron possessed to diversify when changes in the industry warranted.
Arlington Air Venture in Washington State was an annual trek for Stewart Systems forum workshops and a cross country to Oshkosh's renowned air show in 2011 piloting his newly built RANS Coyote II that was earmarked for the flight training he would open in 2012.
A man of few words, a sincere and gentle soul, Ron's June 2020 ALS diagnosis was devastating to a man who had taken great care to live a healthy lifestyle. His desire to "fly high & drop fast" was exhilarating to watch as he came in for a landing with a wide satisfying grin either piloting a plane or a parachute.
Skiing was another passion having learned to scale mountains living in Kitimat and challenging the advanced runs at Big White, Red Mountain and Phoenix Ski Hill where he served on the board for a few years. He spent his winters at the local curling rink and leaves many friends with good memories.
By his side for 16 years was his little Lhasa Apso Chloe until she was killed August 30th by a coyote at the airport. Summers were spent biking the mountain trails with Skydrone UAV Drone partner, Ernest Ziesman They had established a drone base at the airport in 2015 offering TC approved training and inspections.
Aviation was his dream and the Grand Forks Flying Association COPA Flight 62 filled his life for many years sharing his knowledge and experience with youngsters who signed up for the Young Eagles introductory flights.
He volunteered alongside local pilots Jock Mackay, Barry Daniels, James Traynor, Jim Lewell, Bruce Penner, Ben Peach & Bill Gillespie when the Canadian Snowbirds performed in 2000 and 2017 opened his hangar for many summer airport fly-ins.
From his high school friend Bruce Currie and wife Bobbie visiting from Kelowna, stories were shared of Ron's English Rover that was always in the garage at Sid's Shell where they worked after school. Bruce's version, "My most vivid memory is of it in the shop, hood up backwards I think, and Ron underneath."
Skydiving friends Henry & Ron Komant flew in for visits and boosted his morale. There was always something to be done in the hangar! BCIT class mates Ian Uhryn and Tom Stott were frequent visitors with their families just to remind Ron neither chose aviation careers.
Ron's cremation was cared for by Clark's Funeral Services in Trail and he will be laid to rest on July 2nd with his parents, Thomas Conn Wyers (May 2008) and Violet Millicent (Feb 1996) at Lakeview Memorial Gardens across from Kelowna International Airport; a fitting location to monitor flights and flying club activities where he was an active member.
Skydive Okanagan, his last drop zone & training centre, was located in the old forestry building across from the airport in 1989/90. "Ron's Day" at the Grand Forks Airport will welcome his family & friends on July 1st from 2-6 for a memorial fly over.
The family is sincerely grateful to Interior Health Palliative Care Program Clinician Molly Skerritt & staff, Drs. Geoffery Coleshill, Nathan Dalla Lana and the UBC ALS Team at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre for the exceptional care , the Kelowna ALS Support Group and Louise Adderley for countless long distance morale boosting chats.
Donations in Ron's name can be sent to PROJECT HOPE, ALS Society of BC (projecthopealsbc.ca), 1228-13351 Commerce Parkway, Richmond, BC V6V 2X7.
"Lift your wings high into the sky, and touch the clouds for you have earned the ride and when you reach for the throttle, remember the joy each flight has left in your heart".