Dave McElroy of Kelowna gives Russell Skidmore a pat on the shoulder after landing at the Penticton Airport Sunday at the COPA for Kids flight day. Mark Brett/Western News

Flights for fun at COPA for Kids

Annual COPA for Kids offers free flights to promote the world of aviation

Flying at 2,000 feet over the Okanagan Valley 17-year-old Kaden Katelnikoff had what might best be termed as a career epiphany.

“It was just awesome, got to fly the plane it was so responsive, you go one way and it just tips and it’s pretty cool to look down and know that you’re flying,” said the Penticton teen after getting out of Paul Townson’s RV 8 home-built, single-engine airplane Sunday at the Penticton Regional Airport. “It was my first time in a small plane and it really puts things into perspective. What I liked most about flying was just being up there, being alone and flying.

“Yeah, I want to be a pilot.”

Russell Skidmore, 11, of Okanagan Falls also got a free ride that morning as part of the annual Canadian Owners and Pilots Association COPA for Kids program.

“It was a little bumpy, but it was an awesome ride, I really liked it, I was in a small plane before but it was a long time ago and I don’t really remember it, but this was fun,” he said after exiting veteran pilot Dave McElroy’s RV aircraft. “I don’t know if I want to be a pilot, maybe.”

McElroy, the current president of the Kelowna and District Flying Club which is having it’s own COPA day in June, has plenty of air miles under his belt.

Related: South Okanagan and Similkameen kids get to fly free

In 2014 he flew a Piper Comanche around the world which raised over $150,000 for two charities and this year he and two other pilots did the Give Hope Wings sojourn to South America raising over a half-million dollars for charity.

“What could be more fun than flying on a day like this? Young people, introducing them to aviation, the joy of flight, it doesn’t get any better than this,” said McElroy who previously received the prestigious Norton Griffiths Challenge Trophy from the Royal Aero Club in London for “outstanding feats of courage, tenacity and imagination.”

He added: “Just seeing the smiles on the faces, they vary some are shy this one’s (new passenger Hayden Wild) is not so shy. I think she’s going to be great. I like the ones that talk and ask questions.”

All the pilots and ground crew donate their time and cover costs just to give their young ride alongs the experience of flight with the hopes they too will one day find their passion in the skies.

At the end of the two hours, Penticton Flying Club president Ron Johnson tallied up the numbers.

“We had a total of 108 kids who got to fly today. It was really a great day for everyone,” he said.

 

Kelowna pilot Dave McElroy helps Hayden Wild with her headset prior to take off in his aircraft at the COPA for Kids event at Penticton Regional Airport Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

Aircraft line up on the apron at Penticton Regional Airport to transport their special passengers. Mark Brett/Western News

Kaden Katelnikoff gives a wave as he prepares to take off in RonTownson’s aircraft at the COPA for Kids event Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

Larry Ward of the Penticton Flying Club holds back the crowds at the COPA for Kids free flight day Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

Just Posted

Penticton adding heritage conservation areas to OCP

Residents of Windsor Avenue and the K Streets invited to consider heritage designation

Living life to the fullest with Alzheimer’s – an Okanagan couple’s story

Stella Adams and Willi Brombach are making their way through the uncharted waters of Alzheimer’s

Confused about breathalyzer rules? Penticton RCMP clarify

New federal impaired driving laws spark confusion, concern about breathalyzer administration

Penticton women celebrate 101 birthdays

Martha Sandy and Dorothy Gorner are both 101 years old this year

Business case for new Penticton arena being updated

New twin-sheet arena still years away

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after knee injury

Pettersson said he wasn’t feeling any pain during Wednesday’s skate

Ratfish generates social media buzz on Vancouver Island

Boneless, glowing creature a common bycatch, but it usually stays in deep waters – fish expert

UPDATE: Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Pregnant B.C. firefighter tries to save own house that caught fire

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Most Read