Your CASARA Ontario Executive
John M (Mike) Daniels CD
President CASARA Ontario. Past President CASARA National
Mike Daniels has been a member of CASARA since its inception. He is the founder of CARES Niagara, which later became the first member of CASARA Ontario.
One of the founding members of the national body, he has served two terms as National President, and is currently president of CASARA Ontario.
Mike completed his two-year National Service with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom and also served as a Reserve Officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force for more than 30 years. He once owned and operated an air charter operation and was one of Transport Canada’s first Designated Flight Test Examiners. He also implemented the Police Air Wing for the Democratic Republic of the Sudan.
As an engineering pilot for Irvin Aerospace, Mike worked on the development phase of many escape and rescue systems in use today. Along with Douglas Betts, he introduced Civil SAR to Canada’s newest territory — Nunavut — and, in 1998, the duo wrote the Arctic Training Operations Plan, in use today. He is presently the owner and CEO of Mach1 Aviation Consultants Ltd.
In 2015, together with Brian Bishop he continued his work in the Arctic, standing up four new zones in Nunavut. These new zones are located in Pond Inlet, Gjoa Haven, Hall Beach and Arctic Bay. Mike is an Upper Freeman in the Honourable Company of Air Pilots (HCAP).
Claude Overholt (Vice-President/Treasurer)
Claude Overholt has been a member of CASARA since 1981 and is currently the Vice-President/Treasurer of CASARA Ontario.
Claude started his aviation career with the purchase of an aircraft on skis and floats. No wheels. He obtained his private pilot’s license on the aircraft and had to get a wheel endorsement after receiving his private pilot’s license. He started an aviation company selling aircraft and aviation accessories. Upon receiving his commercial pilots license he moved on to many years of commercial float flying. In 1994 he and a friend started Niagara Air Tours to fly tourists over Niagara Falls, Charter and a Flying School, selling the business in 2005. They operated eight aircraft including piston and turbine. Carrying 20,000 pax per year.
He flew as a search pilot for CASARA for many years. First in a Cessna 185 amphibian, then moved to a Beaver amphibian.
Elinor Armstrong (Secretary)
In the summer of 1988 just after purchasing a Citabria Aircraft I was approached by Brian Bowen of New Liskeard (the local minnow man) to work with him to start a CASARA Unit. He would approach CASARA and ask to join as he had learned how to get in touch with them. He asked me to do the organizational work on this project.
The Unit would operate out of Earlton Airways, eighteen miles north of New Liskeard. Bill Mathews the Ford Dealer in New Liskeard owned a hangar there and would give us the use of it year-round, heated and with use of the phone, free.
Our new President, Brian Bowen conducted meetings at a hangar in Cobalt for the first winter , due to the large numbers of people who attended. A Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer/Administrator (myself), Chief Pilot, Chief Navigator and Chief spotter and Training Officers were and elected and put into place as well as various other positions that needed to be filled.
April 1992 saw our CASARA Unit taken to Timmins to act as spotters on board the Buffalo and the Labrador in a major Search known as SAR Joanis. The Search Master, Captain Pierre Bolduc gave me a table, chair, pencil, paper and a phone and asked me to procure spotters for all of their flights for the duration of the search. I had to call every unit within the province (there were ten by this time) and help coordinate the travel, lodging, meals and paying for this large group of CASARA volunteers as they came to Timmins to work on our first major search to find a missing aircraft and it’s two occupants.
Shortly after this experience, I was asked by CASARA Ontario to attend the Searchmaster Course put on at TICTI by the Military for their members, such as Captain Pierre Bolduc, who would become Searchmasters and lead similar searches. The military members who attended this course were from across Canada. There were CASARA members from across Canada as well. The course presented was one week long, eight hours per day, all table-top. It taught us how to scope out a suitable search headquarters, put together search teams and an administrative group.
We learned how to reproduce the navigation done on any given day by all flight crews both military and civilian, on a master map. At the end of each day we used this information to help us prepare the taskings for the next day to be handed out to the Military and CASARA pilots and their crews.
There were many other aspects we trained for during this time. The best thing we came away with was the knowledge of how to work with the military Searchmasters to help them run a search. We use their standards to this day in all aspects of our training. Everyone worked together. Safety was a big factor and strictly observed at all times both in the air and on the ground.
The Canadian Cancer Society used my volunteer services for forty-eight years. I was a member of the New Liskeard Police commission for a full term of six years.
In my retired years the garden and sea-dooing are my summer activities while I travel and skidoo in the winter. I have not flown for a few years and have just recently sold my float plane. It is a Bellanca Citabria, 7GCBC, 160 HP which I have had on floats for twenty-five years. I love water flying. This is a big part of my life that I am reluctant to relinquish.
I have been a member of CASARA Ontario’s’ Executive for a number of years and with your indulgence will continue to work for CASARA.
Gord Tessier (Director of Communications, Research & Development)
Gord Tessier first joined CASARA in 2012. Gord graduated from University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. While at Western he was a member of the Mustang Cross Country and track teams and achieved Western’s “Bronze W” award in athletics. After graduating from Western he volunteered as an assistant coach for several years. For the past thirty years, Gord has owned a successful State Farm insurance agency in the Niagara region. Gord has been flying since 1986, with over 1,400 hours of flight time. In addition to his private pilot’s license he has night, VFR (Visual Flight Rules), VFR over the top, multi-engine (centerline thrust) and multi-engine IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) ratings. He has owned several aircraft, the latest is a 337G Skymaster. Gord is a past director of the St. Catharines Flying Club and the National Association of State Farm Agents (NASFA). Gord’s CASARA experience includes serving as Vice-President of CARES Niagara. His CASARA qualifications include certifications as electronic search specialist, spotter, military spotter, navigator and pilot. Gord is married to Joanne and they have two children; a daughter who attends university at her Dad’s alma-mater and a son, who proudly serves our country in Canada’s Royal Canadian Navy. The Tessier Family motto is Soyons fière (Fiercely proud).