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Organization hopes to get local children interested in flying

Area pilots are looking to share their love of flying with others. Members of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association from the West Peace Aviation Area plan to take 160 children and youth up in small planes during the 6th Annual COPA for Kids event.

COPA Administrative Coordinator for the West Peace Aviation Area Teresa Boudreault says the event is open to children ages 8-17 and is designed to give them an experience they can’t get anywhere else.

“A lot of the time when they come back I ask them if they had a good time and a majority of the time the answer I get from the kids is this is the best day ever. I’ve had the time of my life.”

This year’s event reached a maximum of 160 participants in under 36 hours. Boudreault says that when the event began six years ago they never expected to see the turn out they have today.

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“We started out six years ago just kind of testing the waters to see if anyone would be interested. I think we started with seven planes and just over 100 kids and this year we have close to 15 planes and 160 kids flying.”

People volunteer their own planes and gas for the event which Boudreault says can cost the pilots anywhere from $500 to $1000 for the day. She says most of the people that donate their time have once been in the same position as the participants.

“You hear lots of stories from people, who when they were small, a pilot was kind enough to take them up and it was an experience that they will never forget. Because of that, a lot of them became small plane pilots and have decided to pass that on the enjoyment and the excitement of flying to others.”

COPA for Kids will be taking place at the Grande Prairie Airport on September 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a rain date set for September 3.

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