Wings Magazine

The Webster Memorial Trophy Competition

The John C. Webster Memorial Trophy Competition was established in 1932 by the late Dr. J. C. Webster of Shediac, N.B.

December 11, 2007  By Amy & Wayne Foy

 Andrew Midcalf – 2007 Webster Memorial Trophy Winner

The John C. Webster Memorial Trophy Competition was established in 1932 by the late Dr. J. C. Webster of Shediac N.B. who wished to perpetuate the memory of his son, John, who lost his life at St. Hubert, Quebec in an aircraft accident while practising to represent Canada in an aerobatic flying competition known as the Trans-Canada Air Pageant.  During the previous month in July of1931 while flying his Curtiss-Reid Rambler, John Webster had represented Canada in the King's Cup Air Race held in England. The Webster Trophy itself was designed by the renowned Canadian sculptor, R. Tait MacKenzie.  It is a beautiful bronze figure of the mythical Greek god, Icarus and symbolically represents youth and flight. 

Mrs. "Dodi" Cox, widow of the very first winner of the Webster Trophy is still alive at ninety-eight and voluntarily gave up her driver's licence only two years ago. She retains vivid memories of those early years and was present at the accident that took John Webster's life. Her husband, Edward C. Cox also attained other notable Canadian aviation awards of the time as well as winning the Webster competition three times.

The Webster Memorial Trophy Competition is an annual event intended to determine the "top amateur pilot in Canada".  Interrupted once by World War II and again in 1954 due to escalating administrative costs, the competition was reactivated in 1980 under the sponsorship of Air Canada and is now governed by the Webster Trophy Association.  2007 is the seventy-fifth year of the trophy's existence as it resides permanently in the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

The "Webster" is currently open to any Canadian citizen, British subject or landed immigrant holding a valid Canadian Private Pilot Licence – Aeroplane or Canadian Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane.  To be eligible, applicants must have never received pilot training from the Canadian Armed Forces, excluding Air Cadet flight training, or have used their Commercial Pilot Licence professionally for hire or reward within the five years prior to the final competition month. Also, they must never have been declared a past winner of the Webster Trophy.


 Andrew Kent – 2007 Webster Memorial Trophy Runner-up

For the purposes of determining the finalists who will be eligible to compete at the national level, the country is sectored into nine specific geographical areas called Regions.  Competitors apply to Webster via information posted at all the Flight Training Units across the country, or from advertisements in aviation Trade publications such as Wings and from contact points on the Webster website.  Upon approval of the application, the competitor is notified along with a specific package and may take a flight test from a local Pilot Examiner approved by Transport Canada as one of the options.  Another option being introduced this year is to submit a valid copy of their Transport Canada authorized Private or Commercial Flight Test Report form providing that the test was completed within the time period set down in the new rules. This new option is to help alleviate the expense of having to take two flight tests, one for the licence and one for Webster, when they are both almost identical.  The flight test report is then submitted to Webster for marking and recording of the results. At the conclusion of the period allocated for the regional flight tests, all marks are reviewed and the top pilot in each region is determined and notified that they have become national finalists.

The national competition takes place each year at a different location across the country and in 2007 it was held in Ottawa in late August.  Each year a Flight Training Unit is asked to host the competition by providing facilities and assistance including accessibility to their aircraft as required in order to complete the competition's flight tests. In 2007, the Ottawa Flying Club accepted that role and made all the participants feel very welcome.

Once the finalists who will compete at the national level are selected and notified, those who require it are flown to the destination city courtesy of Air Canada where their accommodations are also paid for under the sponsorship grant. The competition at the national level consists of a long-hand written examination on aviation knowledge based on the level expected from a qualified Transport Canada licenced Private Pilot. The competitors also complete a navigation planning exercise of a fictitious trip, after which the written examination and navigation exercise are scrutinized in minute detail by a team of judges with extensive aviation background. The judges consist of retired airline pilots and Transport Canada Civil Aviation Inspectors with years of flying experience to their credit. Over the three day period that the competition is run, the competitors will also take two separate but distinct flight tests which are conducted by current Transport Canada Civil Aviation Inspectors from Flight Training Standards, who volunteer their services for this event.  In a competition of this nature, weather can play havoc and did so this year, not only near the end of the regional competition, but during the nationals as well.  Nevertheless, all the requirements to determine a winner and runner-up were eventually met and the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition culminated with a prestigious awards banquet at the Canada Aviation Museum on the following Saturday evening.  The setting for such an event could not have been more appropriate and was attended by many of the prominent people in the aviation community.

This year the winner of the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition was Andrew Midcalf who is currently flying out of the Brampton Flight College, Brampton, Ont. This is the second year in a row that the Brampton Flight College has produced a Webster winner.  Andrew  received a beautiful bronze medallion depicting the Webster Trophy.  He also received an Air Canada pass for two, valid anywhere within the Air Canada system and a flight with the Snowbirds.  Furthermore Andrew had the opportunity to fly in a World War 2 Harvard aircraft the following day with Michael Potter, courtesy of Vintage Wings, Gatineau, Que.

Additional awards and prizes included a top of the line aviator's head-set from Sennheiser, a cheque for five-hundred dollars from the Air Canada Pilots Association and a framed print of the John C. Webster Curtiss-Rambler aircraft signed personally by the renowned Canadian artist, Mr. Bob Bradford. Mr. Bradford could not attend the banquet that evening, however, Andrew had the opportunity to visit with him at his home in Brampton and the print was more officially presented to him once again at that time. Andrew Midcalf's name is added to a growing list on the pedestal of the trophy for all to see who visit the Canada Aviation Museum.

The runner-up for the 2007 Webster Memorial Trophy Competition was Andrew Kent who is currently flying out of the Edmonton Flying Club, Edmonton, Alberta. Andrew received a top of the line head-set from Sennheiser as well, a professional pilot log book courtesy of Aviation World, Toronto and a framed print of the John C. Webster Curtiss-Rambler also signed by Bob Bradford.  Andrew Kent's name now goes on a plaque attached to the Eunice Carter Memorial Award, honouring a previous long-standing and much loved National Administrator of the competition, who unfortunately succumbed to cancer a few years ago.
All the competitors received personalized lithographs from the Snowbirds signed by the current team and also received year long memberships from the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association and Webster plaques signifying their national finalist status.

The competition provides entrants with a challenge and gives finalists national exposure to senior officials and other dignitaries within the aviation industry. It is a proven fact that many of Canada's potential aircrew employers watch the annual Webster Competition with interest. Since the competition's revival in 1980, numerous winners and finalists have been offered flying positions within the industry. In fact, one of the earlier ones became President of Trans Canada Airlines. In order to get an appreciation for the influence that the Webster competition has, go to the website at and click on past winners. Any name seen in bold type has been hired on by Air Canada.

In order to organize and maintain such a worthwhile programme it is essential that many people, companies and associations become involved.  Webster has been fortunate to be sponsored totally by Air Canada which has been enthusiastically supportive and recognizes the need to foster greater activity in the general aviation sector.  Aviation is not always business.  It is supposed to be fun also and Webster affords all non-professional pilots and those who aspire to become professionals to have their skills evaluated by Pilot Examiners, compete against their peers, perhaps win a regional title and experience the excitement and thrill of competing for a national title along with meeting a variety of interesting and prominent people from all sectors of aviation. In 2008, the national finals of the competition will take place in Moncton, New Brunswick, from August 20-23 and will be hosted by the Moncton Flight College. The Regional competition is planned to be launched by February 1, 2008 which can be confirmed early in the new year by checking the web site at

Webster is changing some of its past practices and modernizing its image.  It is intended that over the next few years the competition will continue to grow to become one that everyone in aviation will wish to be a part of. This year alone seven new contributors including Wings have joined an already impressive list of dedicated supporters which is confirming that Webster is here to stay.  It is not only an excellent programme but also an important part of Canadian aviation history.



Andrew Midcalf

Andrew is 28 and the 2007 Webster Memorial Trophy Winner. He currently holds a Private Pilot Licence with both night and multi-engine endorsements and is en route to a Commercial Pilot Licence with hopes of a career in commercial operations. Andrew has come to Canada from the U.K. and learned to fly at the Brampton Flying Club. Andrew was in the Royal Air Force as an aircraft technician working on Hercules for most of his time in the RAF. Andrew represented Western Ontario this year.

Andrew Kent

Andrew is 19 years old and is the 2007 Webster Memorial Trophy Runner-up. He holds a Private Pilot Licence with night endorsement and also a Glider Pilot Licence. He learned to fly at Harv‚s Air Pilot Training and at the Edmonton Flying Club and is currently a dispatcher at EFC. He is attending the University of Alberta, faculty of engineering and hopes to become a flight instructor in the near future. Andrew represented Alberta this year at Webster.
Webster Memorial Trophy Competition Launches The New 2008 Programme Including Major And Exciting New Changes.

Application forms and information packages for amateur pilots wishing to compete in the 2008 Webster Memorial Trophy Competition are expected to be available for downloading in English and French by the end of January from the web site which can be accessed at . There will be a small administration fee for all competitors of $25 which is part of the application process.

This year a number of dramatic changes to the programme are in effect which will make entry to the competition easier and less expensive.   In the past, the practice was to have only one Webster Flight Test Examiner for each of the nine Regions, the rationale being that all flight tests in a Region would have a consistency in marking.  It was recognized that this caused a very difficult situation for many pilots wishing to compete, as it often meant travelling great distances and incurring high expense in order to reach a Regional examiner.  Scheduling problems and weather were also a detriment and many potential competitors just didn’t bother applying.

Webster is intended to be a national competition for amateur aeroplane pilots and open to everyone, therefore from this point on any authorized Pilot Examiner who conducts Aeroplane Private or Commercial flight tests may also provide the service for a Webster flight test as well.  Competitors applying to Webster and confirmed as eligible will be sent a package which includes a general notice to their selected Pilot Examiner explaining the guidelines for the test.  Transport Canada as a major supporter of the competition will also be notifying Pilot Examiners about Webster and encouraging their participation.  Fees for the test will be paid directly to the Examiner at the rate set by him or her.  As the test is reduced in duration and also not a licensing test, it is hoped that in the spirit of the competition, examiners will consider reducing their established fees accordingly.

The second major change to the programme is that in many cases pilots who have just completed their Private and/or Commercial Pilot licensing flight tests would subsequently have to put out a large amount of money for the Webster version as well in order to compete.  As of now the Webster Memorial Trophy Competition will incorporate a “fiscal” year which started July 16, 2007 and concludes July 15, 2008.  Any eligible competitor who has successfully completed their Canadian Private or Commercial Pilot Licence flight test during this period may submit a valid copy of that test to Webster after applying and having been accepted as a competitor. The licensing flight test will have certain exercises that are not tested on the Webster version, therefore only the marks that apply to the Webster test will be taken and recorded toward the applicant’s competition results.

Webster is a competition for amateur pilots, therefore new Commercial Pilot Licence holders who wish to enter the competition must be aware that they must not exercise the privileges of their licence for hire or reward during the competition period up to the point where the Regional winners are declared.  Furthermore, any Regional winners who are new Commercial Pilot Licence holders must not exercise their licence privileges for hire or reward until after the National Finals are completed at the end of August. 

With the major changes taking place this year it is expected that the number of competitors participating will be much larger than in the past and the competition will once again grow to become the national aviation event it was in the past.  The Regional winners are determined and notified after July 15th.  The National Finals will take place this year in Moncton, New Brunswick from August 20th to 23rd, hosted by the Moncton Flight College.



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