Around 130 local children and youth have been given the opportunity to see Grande Prairie from the seat of a small plane. On Saturday at the 6th annual COPA for Kids event, seven local pilots gave them free tours of the city and in the case of 16-year old Corrin Brotnov, even gave them a chance to get behind the wheel.
“I got to fly a little bit in between Bear Lake and Clairmont and I think I want to come do it again. Flying the plane was definitely my favourite part and I would recommend [this] to other people to do it too. ”
The event first started in the hopes of sparking a love of flying in the next generation. This year’s event reached maximum capacity in 24 hours faring better than last year which sold out in under 36. This was 14-year-old Matthew Krahn’s first time being in a plane of this size and he says despite holding onto his seat for the entire flight, he’d do it again.
“I enjoyed it and even though I’m scared of heights it was fun and scary at the same time. I’d love to do it next year.”
Coordinator Teresa Boudreault says each pilot donates their own plane, time and fuel which she adds can cost the pilots anywhere from $500 to $1000 for the day. Despite the cost, she believes the pilots view the event as their way of giving back.
“So many of the pilots as they were little guys took a look at planes out there or had someone with a small plane come and land and kind of awed at it and it just kind of sparked that interest… They just want to give back to the kids and let them get a taste of flying and what it feels like in a small aircraft.”
COPA for Kids offers flights to children and youth ages eight to 17 and is hosted by members of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association from the West Peace Aviation Area.