More than 200 children flew across the Okanagan last weekend and got the chance to experience the world of aviation.
The Kelowna Flying Club held the annual COPA for Kids Junior Aviator Program at the Kelowna International Airport in which Okanagan youths from ages eight to seventeen took to the skies with pilots generously providing their time, expertise and aircraft.
Participants of the event attended a short ground school, where they learned about airplanes and had the chance to ask questions, before taking to the sky for a 20-minute flight.
“The Kelowna Flying club has been doing this event for over 20 years,” said Doris Livingstone, events planner with Kelowna Flying Club and customer service agent with WestJet. “We’re one of the bigger events in Canada now.”
Livingstone said the event is to ignite a passion for kids to consider a career in aviation and to help remedy the low numbers of pilots within Canada.
“I’ve been doing this now for only three years. I’ve seen some kids back every year, and they are set on being a pilot,” said Livingstone. “Even some of my colleagues at WestJet were introduced to flying through COPA for Kids when they were kids. There’s a global shortage of pilots. We feel it here in Canada, and the United States: everywhere needs more pilots.”
To date, the COPA for Kids program has introduced over 23,000 young Canadians to general aviation.
The Kelowna Flying Club has provided flights for thousands of local youth in its time organizing the event on a local level.