Ottawa Biplane Adventures at the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.

Riding in a biplane has been on our son, David’s, must-do list for about the past year. He first learned about the experience when we visited the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space last summer. Towards the back of the museum there is an information desk for Ottawa Biplane Adventures.  David found out they offered biplane tours ranging from 6-8 minute intro flights to a 30-35 minute eco tour which takes you into the back-country of western Quebec.

Of course, David’s next question was, ‘Papa, can we go on a flight.’  I love my son more than anything in the world, but I also have an overwhelming fear of heights. Normal flight is difficult enough for me let alone an open-air seat.

My wife, Sandy, has been open to almost every adventure David has taken. She has gone on zip lines in the jungles of the Dominican Republic to snorkelling in Mexico. For her, however, a biplane ride was where she had reached her threshold.  

Luckily, my close friend, Frederic and his partner, are visiting us this summer.  I knew Frederic enjoyed an adrenaline rush and he quickly agreed to accompany David.

Ottawa Biplane Adventures

Since I was not on the biplane, I will let David describe the experience.  His words are in italics.

As soon as we got to the museum, I watched a biplane land. I would be next. We entered the museum where I was given goggles, headphones and a leather cap - I looked like a WWII pilot! I was briefed about how to take photos without my camera flying out of the aircraft and a few other important things and then was ready to go. As I entered the airplane, I remembered the reason it was called the vintage flight was because the plane was made in 1940! Me and my dad’s friend, Frederic were seated at the front of the airplane with the pilot right behind us as I waved goodbye. Take off was very calm and soon I was 1500 ft in the air. I took a look outwards and got an incredible view of the Ottawa river. From time to time the airplane would tilt so that we could see better. About 5 minutes in, the highlight of the tour came- we were directly over Parliament hill! Other places that I saw were the Chateau Laurier, the Rideau Canal, the Museum of History, Gatineau park in the distance and a large portion of downtown Ottawa. The majority of the flight was spent flying over the river and I could also see many scenic areas with a few boats. One of the best parts about it was I also got to see all the places the plane flew over on Google Maps. After about 15 minutes, we returned to the Aviation museum.  

Ottawa Biplane Adventures

I really enjoyed the flight because it makes going on an aircraft far more exciting with the clear view and strong wind. You also feel secure throughout the tour and you get an aerial view of Ottawa and Gatineau better than through a window or a computer screen. I can’t wait to brag to my friends about the experience!

Ottawa Biplane Adventures

I must admit, I was happy to see Frederic and David land safely.  The staff gave us full confidence from the moment we arrived. The day had extra importance to our family because my grandfather, Jonas,  had trained to be a flight navigator in World War II. He trained in various locations including Ottawa. David has researched our family history and I thought it was a very cool that he could experience what Great Grandpa Jonas had experienced eighty years earlier. 

Ottawa Biplane Adventures

Ottawa Biplane Adventures

Disclaimer: Stephen and Davis were compensated for this adventure, but all opinions are there own.

Fringe Activities: Try Them!

With the fall schedule just around the corner, you've probably scoured the City of Ottawa Fall-Winter Recreation Guide and stayed up late to secure those perfectly timed swimming classes (yes, the ones where your different aged children have class at the same time).  Given the intense competition for your extracurricular dollars, some organizations are using free Come Try Events to spread the word on their programs.

Come Try Ringette

Four years ago, I was surprised to find myself a ringette mom after enrolling my eldest daughter in the City of Ottawa Ringette Association's Bunnies - Learn to Skate program.  She loved it, and I admit it was pretty adorable to watch.  

M & K have a little photo booth fun at the Purple Penguins Christmas party

M & K have a little photo booth fun at the Purple Penguins Christmas party

As she graduated from Bunnies to Novice, I suspected her enthusiasm would wane with early morning practices.  It didn't.  In fact, this past season was her best yet - both on the ice and off the ice!  The constant improvement in her skills and knowledge of the game coupled with some amazing friendships that have blossomed have made ringette #1 in her world.  

My husband (Coach Dave) has even been known to extoll it's virtues at the risk of being shunned by hockey dads :)  

My husband (Coach Dave) has even been known to extoll it's virtues at the risk of being shunned by hockey dads :)  

New players are welcomed at all ages in ringette, and my daughter's fun-loving, silver medal-winning team boasted four girls who had never played before.  If you think ringette might appeal to your child, several associations (CORA, Nepean, GCRA) have joined forces to promote the sport and with a free Come Try Ringette event.  It takes place Saturday, September 13th from 4-6 PM at the Jim Durrell Arena (1265 Walkley Rd).  As an added incentive, some associations have also introduced a New-to-Ringette discount.

Come Try Synchro

My youngest has tactile sensitivities, so ringette, with all it's gear, was out.  On the other hand, she swims like a mermaid and considers herself quite the performer.  Synchronized swimming seems like it might be a shoo-in, so we've signed her up to Ottawa Synchro's Dolphin program this fall.  If you think synchronized swimming might appeal to your child, there are several upcoming Come Try Synchro events.

  • Ottawa Synchro will host free Try Synchro events on Monday, August 24th and Monday, August 31st.  These both take place from 7:30-8:15 PM at the Carleton Pool.
  • Gloucester Cumberland Synchro offers free Try Synchro times throughout the season with three next week Tuesday, August 25th, Thursday, August 27th, and Friday, August 28th.  These take place from 7-7:30 PM at the Splash Pool (2040 Ogilvie Rd).

...and Join the Circus

Alright, neither of my kids have joined the circus and there is no try-before-you-buy event for the circus but it's so cool - I had to mention it!  Mini Cirque offers Circus Prop Manipulation Skills and Acrobatics on Tuesdays, from September 15th to December 15th, at the Glebe Community Centre.  Sophie Latreille is an engaging performer (for kids and adults alike), so I suspect this translates well for the program, which uses props and focuses on juggling, poi, flower-stick, hula-hooping and acrobatics.

There are so many great activities in Ottawa, but I really love the option to check it out prior to outlaying serious cash.  Some other considerations,

  • Capital Wave is hosting an Open House on Saturday, September 12th at Carleton Pool.  It's an opportunity to try water polo, and meet and talk with returning athletes and coaches.
  • Gloucester Cumberland Basketball Association is hosting an Open House Wednesday, September 9th 7-9 PM at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School.  
  • Most martial arts studios around town offer some type of reasonably priced back-to-school or introductory offer.  In particular, Douvris and Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts seem focused on developing self-confident kids.

Do your kids participate in fringe activities?  Tell us about it in the comments below.


Review: Melissa and Doug Reusable Stickers

by Karen About a week before Brandon's birthday, I came across the Melissa and Doug reusable sticker book with various scenes for kids to fill in with plants, animals and objects. I completely missed the "reusable" on the cover when I bought it, though I'm not sure how:

As often sometimes happens, I forgot all about the stickers. They were "hidden" in the back of our car. So, Brandon's birthday came and went and the stickers remained in the car until one day a week or two later that he found them. He was excited and so were we. DISTRACTION! :)

Just think of all the laundry I can do if he's busy playing with the sticker book! (I had started with our bedding, apparently.)

All of the scenes are very appealing - farm, ocean, desert, etc. What child doesn't enjoy the immense variety of animals associated with those things?

Not to mention the animals are simple, cute and colourful. Because they're a sticky vinyl-ish substance, they don't tear easily like paper stickers and they're pretty easy for small, not-so-nimble fingers to pull off. Bonus!

Of course, it's equally fun when they get to share the fun with dad (or mom).

What are some activities you enjoy doing to spur your child(ren)'s imagination?

Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping business use social media more effectively. Lately, she's also busy planning a little conference and doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive.

Cheap Things To Do With The Kids Around Ottawa

by Natasha Now that school is out and summer is at full swing, we ask ourselves: how do we keep the kids occupied without spending a lot of money?  I have a done a little bit of research and learned that you can do a lot in Ottawa without breaking the bank.

Mont Cascade Waterpark

Located 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa, the Waterpark has  several water slides for kids of all ages. Admission is $12.99 per person, with free admission to children 2 years of age and under

Tip: Pack a lunch if you’re planning on staying the whole day. There are many great picnic areas that are open to you.

Beach Day

Ottawa has four great beaches to enjoy across the city. Pack a lunch and a few sand toys to make sure that your little one is enjoying him or herself without hurting your wallet. If you are not a beach person, there are several toddler wading pools and splash pads around the city which are free and a great way to cool off on a hot day.

Tip: Make sure you go early to get a good spot.  The beaches and pools can fill up quickly on a hot summer day.

The Children’s Museum

They have 30 permanent exhibits that help children explore the world. There are several interactive activities that children can do.

Tip: Admission is free on Thursdays from 4 to 8pm. Children under the age of 3 are admitted for free (hey that rhymes!).

The International Buskers Festival

The festival begins on July 28 and goes till August 1. There are a variety of Buskers that perform all along the promenade at the Sparks Street Mall. It is great entertainment for all ages and the location enables you to partake in some great activities around downtown (like the item next).

Tip: Bring some spare change to tip performers.

Changing the Guard

It takes place every day on Parliament Hill at 10 a.m. After the show, you can walk around the Byward Market that has many great little shops and restaurants.

Tip: You can also walk down by the Rideau Canal Locks, with some good timing and luck you may be able to see a boat go through.

Tip: During hot summer days, bring an extra bottle of water, shades and a hat. It can get really really hot when you’re standing outside and waiting.

Experimental Farm

Pack a lunch, walk around the Arboretum, visit the Canada Agriculture Museum and animals. If your kids are anything like Baby H, they will absolutely love to see all of the animals. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for kids (3-14), $6 for students and seniors; $16 for families and children under 3 are free.

Tip: Pick up a schedule when you first arrive so you do not miss any of the daily activities.

Valleyview Little Animal Farm

We recently took Baby H here and he loved it. It is a great little animal farm in Barrhaven, that charges $8 per person and allows free admission for children under 2.

Tip:  Pack a lunch to have a family picnic once you have finished visiting the animals.

Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikedays

It is a perfect way to enjoy a Sunday morning with your family. You can ride you bike, roller blade or walk, it’s free with a spectacular view of the Nation’s Capital.

Tip: Pack lots of water and sunscreen for the extra hot days. 

Movie day at Rainbow Cinemas

They feature entertaining newly released movies at 10am for $3.00, regular admission is $5.  You cannot beat those prices.

Tip:  If you go on Tuesdays, the admission charge is a toonie!

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo

They have over 250 animals on display.  Its a fun and educational way for your children to learn about reptiles.  Admission is $10, a family pass (4 people) is $38 and kids 2 and under are free.

Tip: Your kids will be touching lots of reptiles so make sure you pack some hand sanitizer or wipes.

RCMP RockcliffeStables – You can tour the stables, walk through the tack house, meet the horses and browse through the Mountie Shop.

For more money saving options you can check out Attractions Ontario, which has discounts for several activity spots and museums. We will be going to some of the places I’ve listed above during my week off. If you have any ideas and tips for a cheap family outing in the area, please share it with me.

If you have any more ideas, please share!

Have a great low-budget summer!

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.

The Spencerville Fair

By Shawna It’s that time of year again: the harvest ripens and, to celebrate, rural communities everywhere put on agricultural fall fairs.  This weekend is the Spencerville Fair (about an hour south of Ottawa off the 416), and a few years ago our family started a tradition of going. 

 There are tons of things to do for kids.  In addition to the midway and candy floss that come to mind whenever you think of even the smallest, parking lot fair, there are tractor pulls, animal displays, horse riding competitions, farm-oriented displays, awarding of ribbons for baked goods, and a corn-boil.  There’re are also special events aimed at just kids: Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo always puts on a display, last year there were acrobats, and this year we’re planning on getting there in time for the greased pig chase at 3pm.  

 Alas, the pumpkin and squash crop did not thrive at our place this summer, but last year my daughter Sage even entered a pumpkin in the giant pumpkin contest and got a ribbon for 5th place!  Next year we’re going to build raised beds and try to scoop some actual prize money.

Too late to make it to the Spencerville Fair?  Next week is the Richmond Fair (which has a special section put aside for kids only, and a breastfeeding area), and the week after is the Carp Fair.

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She loves fall fair season as much as her kids.