Program has Penticton kids flying high

Close to 100 Penticton children get an introduction to flight through the COPA for Kids program

Pilot Ed Festel goes over some of the basics with Emmitt Shorty prior to take off as Sarah Murray watches from the rear seat. Through the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association kids had an opportunity recently to take a free flight at the Penticton Flying Club with local pilots. A similar event is scheduled

Pilot Ed Festel goes over some of the basics with Emmitt Shorty prior to take off as Sarah Murray watches from the rear seat. Through the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association kids had an opportunity recently to take a free flight at the Penticton Flying Club with local pilots. A similar event is scheduled

Forget the video games and flight simulators, 13-year-old Jacob Gagnon has flown the real deal.

Although still a few years away from getting his driver’s licence, it was thanks to the COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) for Kids program he had the unique opportunity.

In fact, the local teen had so much fun he was back of the Penticton Flying Club recently for another opportunity to take to the friendly skies.

“Way cool,” was his description of operating the controls of a small, single-engine Cessna during his first flight.

“I was a little scared at first but after that it was really fun and I just can’t wait to do it again.”

“It’s so neat sitting at the controls and just how touchy they are when you move your hands.”

During the day he and nearly 100 other kids had an opportunity to go with experienced pilots for a 20-minute ride north to Naramata and back.

Calliste Murray, 14, was surprised at just how different the perspective was from 800 feet above ground level.

“It was just really neat, looking down and seeing how small things are from up there; you just don’t realize it when you’re here,” she said after touching down.

“I think this is really great because it gives kids a chance to get involved in aviation and it sparks an interest in aviation.”

Most of the young passengers admitted to being a little nervous prior to the flight but all agreed afterwards they were glad they decided to go.

Don Hudgeon is one of the organizers of the program and definitely believes in love at first flight, although he agreed that initial experience can be a little frightening for most of the young people.

“When they first get in the airplane they’re scared but when they come out they’re not,” he said while loading another group into a waiting Cessna.

“I guess we’re still always really amazed when the kids actually get in our airplanes and go for that flight, but I haven’t seen a kid yet come out of the plane afterwards and say: ‘Aw, that wasn’t much.’ They all have a smile on their face and they look pretty happy about it.”

The purpose of the program, which takes place at many other airports in the Okanagan Similkameen, is to introduce young people to aviation at an impressionable age.

Everyone involved volunteers their time and use of the aircraft.

“There is no remuneration, and what I think the other pilots get out of it personally is just the satisfaction of having a bunch of really happy kids,” said Hudgeon, who got his pilot’s licence at the age of 21 shortly after his first flight. “And who knows? They may end up taking it up as a career or a hobby and that’s the object of the whole exercise.

“After all, most of us in the aviation community are getting a little long in the tooth because we did it because there wasn’t as much for kids to do then as there is now.”

In addition to the actual flying, the young people also had an opportunity for a brief ground school and according to organizers, are welcome to return next year.

Just Posted

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
5-storeys still too tall for Penticton’s downtown, votes city council

Vote against new development leaves one councillor questioning validity of city’s zoning restrictions

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Cheetahs can’t roar

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Highway 3, east of Osoyoos was closed all Monday due to a liquid tar spilled all over the road.
Highway 3, east of Osoyoos, is now open to single lane traffic

The highway was closed all Monday due to liquid tar spilled all over the road

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

( photo)
No COVID-19 baby boom in Summerland

Pandemic has not resulted in surge in births in 2020 and 2021

Teenagers make their way to Truswell Road after a party is broken up by police at the end of Mission Creek (Lorraine Besner/Contributed).
Kelowna residents concerned about ongoing alleged underage beach parties

Public urination, property damage, drinking and drug usage have become weekly concerns

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
6 United Way chapters merging around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Send your letter to the editor via email to Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Regulations needed for short-term rentals in Summerland

Summerland still does not have bylaw rules that govern the management of short-term rentals

A new air cleaning technology will be installed at Unisus School in Summerland. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Virus cleaning pilot set for Unisus School in Summerland

Summerland-based lighting company to install technology at private school

A West Kelowna man was seriously injured in a single-vehicle collision early on Tuesday morning. (Black Press file photo)
Single vehicle collision seriously injures West Kelowna man

The man was driving a pickup truck that went off the road and caught on fire

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Kelowna artist Bobby Vandenhoorn recently completed mural of late Canadian rock icon and activist Gord Downie now adorns Brenda Dalzell’s Sicamous business, the Bruhn Crossing Urban Market. (Contributed)
Canadian rock legend, activist Gord Downie inspires Sicamous mural

Business owner hopes artwork will help foster ongoing conversations around reconciliation

Most Read