By Barry Martin
COPA Flight 57 in Charlottetown held their COPA for Kids day on June 9. With one twin, seven singles and two helicopters, we were able to fly around 130 kids before the ceiling came down on us.
The day started around 9:30 a.m. with a pilot briefing. The route was outlined and loading and spacing procedures were gone over. The gates opened at 10 a.m. with registration.
The kids then were sent to a pre-flight safety briefing where they were told of the various aspects of flight and safety around aircraft. From there, they went to the flight line to wait their turn for a ride.
They were then ushered to either an aircraft or helicopter, whichever was next in line to be loaded. We had given the registered kids staggered times to show up so they wouldn’t have to stand in line too long.
The helicopters loaded on one ramp and the fixed wings on another. The aircraft were under the control of a ground controller and Marshaller.
Once off the active taxiway, the ground controller positioned them in a holding area waiting for the Marshaller to take control and direct the aircraft to a loading area. The aircraft didn’t move, shut down or start up without the direction of the Marshaller.
Once an aircraft was in position and the engine shut down, COPA Flight 57 volunteers ushered the kids to and from the aircraft.
The system seemed to work very well as we started flying around 10:30 a.m. and shut down around 1 p.m. after the rain started and the ceiling dropped, giving around 130 kids a coast to coast view of the island.
We also had great support from the community. The Charlottetown Police Department had their antique Dodge police car on display, the Charlottetown Fire Department with their antique fire truck, the Militia and Air Cadets had displays along with the Coast Guard, Island EMS and Great Hobbies.
Tim Horton’s and Wendy’s provided refreshments. The Charlottetown Airport Authority provided fencing to separate the static area from the flight line area. A couple of radio stations had their roaming reporters on site to inform people of the aviation displays.
The turnout was so great that we had to turn away kids. We even wore out a fax machine from all the registrations that were faxed in. And most were sent by E-mail.
Even though the day was rainshortened, a lot of kids went home with wide smiles on their faces. And the COPA volunteers also had a lot of fun, so much so that no one thought to take any pictures.