Saturday morning the Pitt Meadows Airport saw the takeoff of a marathon for Hope Air, which will fund about 1,000 flights for people needing medical treatment.
Give Hope Wings – Northwest Expedition, is the name of a fundraiser led by Kelowna pilot Dave McElroy. He and fellow Okanagan pilot Steve Drinkwater and Ian Porter of Kitsilano are taking their aircraft on a flight of more than 12,000 km across B.C. the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and circumnavigating Alaska. It will benefit the Canadian charity Hope Air, which arranges for flights for low-income people who need them for medical treatment.
McElroy was flying with sponsor Lise Ash. She and her husband own the Langley Sportsplex, and they got behind the marathon flight as the main sponsor.
Her husband David Ash said Lise is a new but enthusiastic pilot, and this was a natural sponsorship for their company.
“It’s a great cause and a chance to take an adventurous trip,” said David.
The event was hosted by the Aero Club of B.C., which is based at the Pitt Meadows Airport.
Alanna Scott, vice president of Hope Air, came from Toronto for the largest fundraiser the organization does. She said the charity makes travel arrangements that are free to its low-income clients, but cost the charity an average of $250 each.
The goal was to arrange for 1,000 flights with this marathon, and on the morning of takeoff in Pitt Meadows they had already raised enough for 980.
At 6 p.m. they were planning a stop in Prince George. That northern hub is an important city for Hope Air, with more than 1,800 donated flights into or out of Prince George every year.
She said awareness is also a great benefit of the marathon, which is billed “Another Epic Flight to Launch Hundreds of Others.”
“We like to get the word out that there is help available,” she said.
She noted that with Greyhound shutting its bus stations in the north, with winter driving conditions, and with roads being closed due to forest fires in summer, there is increasing demand for these flights.
Hope Air has been around for 33 years, and has flown 142,000 Canadians for needed medical attention.
McElroy did a similar marathon flight last year that raised $500,000 for Hope Air.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so at givehopewings.ca