Sad News - Walter Chmela

General Club Information in the last 180 days - Posts open to Club members only
Charles Petersen
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:59 pm

Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Charles Petersen »

Sad news from Eva: Walter Chmela, Founder of York Soaring Association, passed away in hospital last evening, July 10th.

Walter, was a force of nature, relentless in his mission to bring gliding to Canadians, especially young pilots, and over the years, York trained hundreds.

Walter was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, - a well-deserved honour.

As of yet, there are no plans for anything like a memorial service. But I think we will toast him in remembrance at the upcoming club dinner.

Some photos are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ioHAi4dYfMuqqUne6 Use 'open in a new window to view.

If you want to send a sympathy card, Evs' address is 10 Courtwood PlaceToronto, ON M2K 1Z9
Charles Petersen
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:59 pm

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Charles Petersen »

Here is a video from the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame Induction. It is very well produced

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74K9gBlEhmQ
Dave Bax
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 10:53 am

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Dave Bax »

Sad news indeed, the club owes its very existence (and much more) to Walter.

The club will leave a card in the club room, on the table nearest the office.
Unfortunately rain most of the week, but Sunday might be ok.
So will plan to close the card at the end of Sunday, or early Monday 19th.

Of course the club card does not exclude members sending individual cards as well.
Paul Moggach
Site Admin
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 9:34 am

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Paul Moggach »

Help.jpg
Pic 17 (2).jpg
WaltsTowplane.jpg
Stan Martin
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:12 pm

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Stan Martin »

We have lost so many of those early pioneers in the development of the sport and our enjoyment. I have known Walter from the late 70's. This one really sinks in and leaves a mark. He made the club one of the strongest of its kind. We all owe much to the man and his vision.
Last edited by Stan Martin on Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Charles Petersen
Posts: 62
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:59 pm

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Charles Petersen »

Long time York member Rainer Zimm, known to many of us, is not currently a member of York ('cause e lives in Goderich), and consequently cannot post to our Forum, wrote this on Facebook:
Farewell my Dear; soaring instructor, mentor, guidance counsellor, business associate and friend. From your early humble beginnings after immigrating to Canada picking tobacco in Drumbo, Ontario to your induction into CANADA's AVIATION HALL OF FAME ~ it's been one WILD ride! All the adventures, soaring flights, disappointments and shared experiences over the last 56 years amount to a lifetime of personal developments for me ~ that will never be forgotten. The amazing legacy that you have built at York Soaring Association will live on. One of the many stunning achievements in your busy, complex, dedicated lifespan.
You can rest now Walter F. Chmela as your job on this planet is complete.
Until we meet again
Tony Firmin
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:18 am

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Tony Firmin »

Walter was indeed a somewhat mercurial character with a strong resolve, to whom York members owe gratitude for the organization that he initiated and developed over so many years. In his early years, at the end of the war, he spent time in a British Prisoner of War camp in the South West of England. I gather it was a relatively pleasant experience, so despite being 'on the other side' we got along well.
Doug Carman
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:10 pm

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Doug Carman »

Indeed, he and his mates didn't quite know how well off they were at the POW camp, so they escaped and went to a nearby airfield where they attempted to start an aircraft and go back to Germany at night. After repeated failed attempts to start the engine(s), they wandered back to the camp and carried on as if nothing had happened. If they had known what they would have faced going back (into the infantry and likely getting shot at or shelled), they never would have tried. He was very thankful later when he found out how bad it was near the end, that the engine didn't start. Walter had it better than most at the camp because he was fluent in English already, having been well brought up in Vienna. He said he always had lots of cigarettes, which were the common currency of camps and the military in general, and got on well with the staff.

The other thing some don't remember was his sense of humour. I spent a couple winters with him and Jerry Dempsey on the Auster project, and it was an almost non stop humorous banter. On the other hand, he was clever. He asked the second winter if I'd be willing to help the chief tow pilot, and I said yes. In the spring I found there was no chief. He just started telling everyone that I was the chief. What a guy!
Kenneth Voort
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon May 24, 2021 8:15 am

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Kenneth Voort »

I have very vague memories of Walter, but I do remember him.

I owe my love of flight to him. I didn't quite make the cut with the Air Cadets, so my squadron sent me off to York. If it wasn't for Walter, and what he built at York, I likely would have never believed I could fly. He sparked in me a lifelong love of the sky through what he built, and I will forever be grateful for that.
With grace and beauty, Strength and cunning She’ll stay aloft — until; Inevitably — she loses. And must glide earthward. And lie there helpless, Lovesick for the sky.
Wayne Hewison
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:16 pm

Re: Sad News - Walter Chmela

Post by Wayne Hewison »

I remember doing an annual check-flight with Walter in his beloved 2-32 many years ago. Just before we entered the circuit he "looped it". That's a Walter! He was a great pilot, an inspiration for many of us and most important of all a great friend. I will miss him.
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