Black Velvet 2011


Held at the Canadian Forces College on Yonge Blvd. in Toronto, all who attended gave this years a big thumbs up, as can be witnessed in the slide show.This year for first time in a long time, two recipients, both of whom are serving members, received the OBV.

The Whiffenpoofs Song

Should you wish some music, click the play button.

Captain Wayne Leahy OBV

Know all by these presents that the Most Ancient and Alcoholic Order of the Black Velvet has this day been awarded to Captain Wayne Robert Leahy for distinguished service in the cause of hilarity related to the 400 Squadron Black Velvet spirit as detailed hereunder.
From 25 to 27 October, 2011, Captain Wayne Leahy was given his first independent command. It was a 4 ship, 12 aircrew redeployment from Wainwright, AB to Borden, ON. The troops had been under canvas in sub zero temperatures for a full month and were anxious for the comforts of home. No one wanted to get stuck en route or left behind. All critical factors respecting routing and some doubtful weather patterns were carefully considered with safety being the watchword. Our Airmobile Mission Commander was acutely aware of his noble responsibilities.
Captain Leahy executed the first day’s movement flawlessly. The formation troops rightfully enjoyed Regina’s warm hotel rooms, en suite baths, food and beverages as they remembered living in cold tents and using frozen outdoor facilities. Camaraderie and a keen spirit to complete the mission warmed the group under Captain Leahy’s command.
Day Two’s briefing had questionable weather at the Ontario border and around Lake Superior in a region where fueling stops are few and far between. To expedite fueling, departure and avoid weather delays, the formation was broken into 2 elements of 2. As commander, Captain Leahy ordered a track further north to Atikokan, a small, remote mining town suffering deterioration caused by the years-old closure of a big mine.
Darkness loomed as the second element arrived in Atikokan for fuel. The lead element was ready to press on to Marathon but the Mission Commander knew that no one had had a proper lunch, they had flown for 6 hours already and Marathon was 2 hours of night flying away. With the 2 hour time zone change, ETA Marathon was 2300. All 4 crews had strong opinions, some wanting to get closer to home and others concerned that Atikokan had little to offer. Two crews wished to press on with or without the balance of the formation. Concern grew when it was determined Atikokan had no hotels and the only “nice” place, “White Otter Lodge” had no vacancies. The alternative, the “Quetico Motel” was completely vacant, which raised red flags for a number of the troops.
To end this lively discussion in the Flight Service Station, the crews turned to the Airmobile Mission Commander to provide his assessment and make the final decision. Captain Leahy again checked the weather and weighed the factors: Impending darkness, fatigue and get-home-itis. The next morning’s weather was forecast operational so displaying good leadership, he made the tough decision to stay safe and sleep in Atikokan.
It was a safe decision for the crews but not necessarily for Wayne. The troops wanted a nice restaurant, nice hotel rooms and feared getting stuck in backwater Atikokan. Grumbling and thinly veiled threats did not daunt our fearless leader who was confident the morning would vindicate his decision and his leadership prowess would forevermore be firmly established. The aircraft were secured and transport arranged.
A dilapidated old van transported everyone to the Quetico Motel. The driver, “Buddy” had not seen CF aircraft in many years and suggested the Quetico was completely vacant for a reason. Concern of the troops increased when they discovered the only restaurant open that night had to call in Aunt Edna and Cousin Jessie to help serve the biggest crowd seen in a long time. At the motel several rooms were found to be without hot water and Wayne realized he might have to sleep that night with one eye open. Leadership is a demanding taskmaster and Wayne remained firm in his resolve, knowing in his heart that in the morning with the troops well rested and some good weather, he would be vindicated.
That night a front passed through, dumping several inches of wet snow. Buddy advised everyone on the morning van ride that weather like this was common and unpredictable and could last for days. After dragging their bags through slush and slop to the aircraft, the troops had to shovel out and clean off their steeds. Visibility was less than ½ mile with low cloud and extensive fog precluding an immediate departure. The Marathon weather was checked and reported to be considerably better than Atikokan’s. If the two elements had made Marathon the night before, they would have had an easy final stage to Borden.

To say that Capt Leahy was concerned about a mutiny in his first command would be a complete understatement. However, a picture is worth a thousand words....
A new standard of leadership has been set. Captain Leahy has earned the love and respect of the troops under his command in the finest traditions of Captain Bligh.  Now personifying the Squadron Motto, "Percussioni Vigiles" (loosely translated as "Watch Out, you are about to be Struck!") Capt Wayne Robert Leahy survived with his sense of humour and his skin intact and richly deserves his Order of The Black Velvet.
2 Dec 2011    
B.L. Stewart
A duly authorized officer of the Order

Captain Geoff MacKenzie OBV

Know all by these presents that The Most Ancient and Alcoholic Order of the Black Velvet has this day been awarded to Captain Geoff MacKenzie for distinguished service in the cause of hilarity related to the spirit of 400 Squadron Black Velvet as detailed by Power Point.

In February 2010, elements of 400 Squadron were tasked to support the Vancouver Olympic Games.  Captain Geoff MacKenzie, showing initiative and daring, planned a little game of his own and executed a pinpoint landing on top of Black Tusk, a mountain located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Although this was an illegal act, Geoff MacKenzie deemed it worthy of being recorded for posterity by video and arranged it so.  Strike One.

Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park

Upon the successful return from his self-imposed task, Lieutenant MacKenzie proudly sent the video to his father, who was so impressed that he shared it with other family members and friends.  Strike Two.

Cadet MacKenzie was horrified a few days later that the viral video became the subject of a phone call he received from Parks Canada.  Strike Three.

Our Player was suitably debriefed. For knowingly planning, executing and recording a non-approved landing on Black Tusk peak, in the middle of Garibaldi Provincial Park and then allowing the social media to expose his crime, Mister Geoff MacKenzie has provided an inspirational lesson for us all and demonstrated his absolute suitability for the award of the Order of The Black Velvet.

2 Dec 2011
B.L. Stewart 
A duly authorized Officer of the Order

If the "Whiffenpoofs" is still playing, turn it off before viewing the video.

Black Velvet Dinner 2004

To view all the photos used in this production (with captions), CLICK HERE

Critics Corner - Black Velvet

Black Velvet 2011 Comments

The Whiffenpoof Song.mp3
Bill Bishop,
25 Aug 2016, 18:57