Graham St. Thomas
From a pilot’s perspective, April 18, was a successful day. General aviation pilots, COPA Flight 155, The Lacombe Flying Club and the 1st Lacombe Scout troop all came together to provide an amazing experience for youth in Lacombe.
Getting an early start at 8 a.m., the pilots met for a weather briefing, assessing the route and any other factors that could present themselves. It was going to be slightly overcast with a bit of wind, but still a great day to go flying.
By 9 a.m. the aircraft, a C-172 and a Piper Archer were pre-flighted, fuelled and ready to go as the scouts started to arrive with their parents.
After double checking the paperwork the scouts climbed into the aircraft and took off as their parents watched from the observation area.
Having plenty of local features that were visible from the air made it seem like an introduction to being a tour guide for pilots. From 200 AGL the pilots could already hear comments from the scouts about how different the town looked from the air. The comments continued as the flight path took them out around another local town and nearby lake. After the flights, the grins on their faces confirmed that I made the right choice in getting my pilots licence.
Each aircraft had a couple more flights before stopping for lunch; this is when we found out the scout troop had ordered pizza and asked us to join them.
Once all the kids had flown the pilots decided to open up some flights to any parents who wanted to go. Six parents were flown and for one it was their first flight in any sort of aircraft. We hope that one day those parents might join the general aviation community.
I like to thank a few people for their support. Ellery Derksen for donating his time, airplane and experience.
COPA Flight 155 and the Lacombe Flying Club for supervising the event and even donating some of the fuel for the day. The 1st Lacombe Scout troop for jumping through the legal hurdles on their end. Patrick Gilligan, Vice-president of Operations at COPA for his help in getting everything running smoothly for the COPA For Kids program, and finally, I’d like to thank the general aviation community for supporting events like this and providing guidance to pilots who want to immerse themselves in aviation.
Without pilots nobody could fly, so go give a young person the chance to fly, maybe they’ll catch the bug.
The following was written by one of the scouts, Andrew Thacker, who participated in the COPA For Kids day: The 1st Lacombe Scouts had their very first Junior Aviator flying day on Sunday, April 18. They achieved this through COPA For Kids, a program that enables kids to experience the thrill of flight in small, single-engine airplanes.
Almost every scout showed up – 19 in total along with their parents and siblings.
I myself had a turn to fly from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. - taking in the sights of Lacombe and surrounding areas from above. We flew all the way to Bentley and saw Gull Lake as well as many houses and fields. We got to wear headsets which enabled us to speak to the other passengers over the roar of engine.
Everyone I asked what they thought about the flying experience described it as “awesome,” “so cool” and “amazing.” It definitely was an amazing experience that the 1st Lacombe Scouts will never forget.