COPA for Kids challenge

By Ian Basson



Waiting for the first flights of the day.


Pilots and ground crew from left Deb and Josh Hamilton,
Barb and Clarence Williams, Ian Basson, Charlie Murray,
Ian Fyffe, Tim Liston, Jim Walker, Jan Basson.


Absent pilots Mark Hindley and Al Douglas. Ground crew., John Demery, Anna Liston, Kitty Grant and Michael Wilkinson.

After a brief respite from organizing the very successful 2008 COPA National Convention, Flight 75 has once again stepped up to the plate and now challenges all other Flights to match or exceed their June 6, 2009 tally of COPA For Kids flown in one morning.

Lead organizer Tim Liston and the rest of the St. Thomas crew did their usual excellent job of promoting this event. With 10 pilots and aircraft committed to fly the friendly skies, advertisements were placed in the local newspapers; flyers in the public schools; posters in stores and supermarkets plus there were strategically placed roadside signs.

Long range weather looked good and supplies were laid in to feed a hoped for 150 local young aviators.

The day dawned bright and clear with gentle crosswinds from the north west and the first youthful aviators were on site well in advance of the scheduled 9:00 a.m. start time.

In anticipation of a large turn-out, pilot pre-flight briefing was bumped up by 15 minutes and the show was on the road well ahead of schedule.

Jim Walker, who is accustomed to leading public tours through the London Diamond Aircraft Factory and John Demery were kept busy for a steady four hours educating small groups of wannabe flyers on the workings of a static Cessna 150 which was supplied by St. Thomas Flight Centre for the day.

The route for the day was an extended circuit around the City of St. Thomas. The constant overhead traffic eventually brought out curiosity seekers and their kids to the airport which increased the overall numbers for the day.

At least two trips to the supermarket to restock supplies were required but eventually all participants were provided a barbecued hot dog and offered a soft drink of choice.

After close to five hours of cross wind practice and sightseeing the city, it was wheels down for the last time. A well deserved rest and time to feed the flight crew and tally the day’s results.

Final count – 10 well-used pilots, a sun tanned ground crew of 11 and 194 smiling young faces.

At least one parent was motivated to sign his son up for flying lessons. Flight 75 has learned that several recent flying students were introduced to flight through the years by the Young Eagles program previously held in St. Thomas.

The City of St. Thomas has a population of 38,000. Flight 75 has a membership of about 45, including spouses. On June 6, they flew 194 kids.

On June 17th the Flights weekly Wednesday evening barbecues will begin and run through to September.

Are any other Flights up to the challenge this centennial year of Canadian flight?