In a surprise announcement on Thursday (April 27), the board of directors of the entity that organizes the annual Webster Memorial Trophy competition has cancelled this year’s competition, citing financial challenges. This year’s competition, which seeks to identify Canada’s ‘best pilot’, was to be held at the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre in Breslau, Ontario in August.
The competition was created by Dr. John Webster in 1932 as a memorial to his son, also named John, who died while practising for an aerobatic competition at the Saint-Hubert airport in Quebec in August of 1931. The younger John had represented Canada flying his Curtiss-Reid Rambler in England’s King’s Cup Air Race just a month earlier. The most recent competition was hosted last August by the Southern Interior Flight Centre in Kelowna, British Columbia.
The competition was held annually until 1939 and resumed after the Second World War in 1947. No competitions were held from 1955 until again resuming in 1980. Except for 2020 and 2021, when the COVID pandemic caused the competitions to be cancelled, the event had been held annually since.
Criteria used in assessing a pilot’s skills include:
- Precision aircraft handling
- Normal, abnormal and emergency procedures
- General operational knowledge
- Overall airmanship
- Pilot decision making, situational awareness and overall threat awareness and management
Candidates are also tested on their aeronautical knowledge via a written examination and an interview.