Volunteers escort the first plane filled with kids off the tarmac at the Ponoka airport following their flight on Saturday

Free flights all about generating interest among kids

COPA for kids flying event brings dozens out to fly in the sky.

Nearly every kid has dreamed about flying and the hope is an annual event will help give children an opportunity to learn more about it as a potential career option.

A national program run by the Canadian Owners & Pilots Association (COPA) has been providing free flights for children from ages 8 to 17 for several years with Ponoka and area pilots, and they took to the sky from the Ponoka airport on Saturday, May 28 for the second straight year.

“The purpose of the event is to help make children aware of aviation, since only about one in every 1,000 people in Canada knows someone that has their pilot’s licence. The hope is maybe this help further develop the interest for those that may never have had the chance to experience being in a plane before,” said event organizer Perry Wilson, who also flew one of the seven planes that participated in Saturday’s activity.

“Everyone knows about professions like doctors, lawyers and firefighters, but not a lot of children know or have much information about the number of professions that are employed in the aviation industry. If they can see some ordinary people are flying, maybe they can see themselves in those shoes and open their eyes to the knowledge that they can do it too.”

A total of 51 children received a free flight during the day with about 20 volunteers giving their time to help out on the ground with the use of the planes being provided through sponsors. There was also a static display set up near the terminal with a few different kinds of planes the children got a chance to get an up close look at.

“The kids got to go through a mini-ground school where they learned how the planes work and how they are able to takeoff and move through the air,” Wilson said.

“It’s hoped that they came away with a better understanding of how flight happens plus that aviation is one of the career options that are open to them if they choose. If they aren’t interested, then we hope the children learned that anything is possible and that they should go after whatever career they like.”


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