By Avery Wagg
Kingston Flying Club member Pat Harpell,
left, chats with Kingston's City Councillors
Lisa Osanic and Ed Smith.
Club pilot Dave Jackson, center, takes City Councillor
Leonore Foster and her husband up for a flight.
How one measures success in life is almost always a personal question. So when we asked 14 city officials if they'd like an airplane ride over their city and only five took us up on it, it just goes to prove that success is at least a relative thing.
However, since all we really wanted to do is raise the visibility of the Flying Club in the eyes of the local politicians - we probably did okay. Those folks who did show up, just had a great time!
You see, back in November, 2006 the City of Kingston brought some consultants in to help their staff develop a meaningful Airport Development Plan.
The folks at the Flying Club heard about the public meeting and we all attended in droves. We were like bees on honey. All evening we heard not a word about General Aviation (GA) or personal flying, but instead, it was all about how many Jazz flights were coming or going.
This was not a good sign for the Flying Club.
At that time, we were simply not in a good position to ask for anything from the planning committee when they barely knew we existed. It was time for a change.
So, a Councillor Flight Day was planned where we invited city councillors and the mayor, as well as the head of the local Economic Development Board (KEDCO), up for a 20-minute airplane ride. Each was allowed to bring a guest.
The January Councillor Flight Day showed up bright, cold and breezy. Each of our five pilots were provided with a flight plan route to follow over the city. We also provided a copy of the plan to our local FSS folks.
Our Club President Darren Rich gave a small preamble to the assembled group in the club as to why we were hosting the event and Dave Tisdale joined in comparing it to the Young Eagle program. The similarity being, a unique up-front appreciation of personal flying.
Well, it turned out the pilots and the riders really enjoyed it. So much so, that we thought we might do it again when the weather is a bit warmer. Our take-away feeling from the event is the councillors really did get an understanding of why we existed, as well as an appreciation of the social benefits of the club.
Now whether this one event will translate into a greater voice in the development process of the Airport Development Plan is another question.