Kids catch the flying bug with free aviation program at Qualicum Beach

For some it was the speed, for others the view, but either way it looks like there could be a few more pilots in the world in the aftermath of the Qualicum Beach Flying Club’s free youth flights on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The COPA for Kids (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) program had local pilots give youth between eight and 17 years old a free tour of their planes discussing how they work, followed by a 20-minute flight above the Qualicum Beach Airport on Saturday, Aug. 26.

With several hours left before the end of the event, more than 70 kids had gone up, said volunteer pilot and organizer Paul Connor. For some, like Jocelyn and Jasmine Powell, it was their first time ever flying.

“It was fun. Kind of nerve-wracking though,” admitted Jocelyn, while Jasmine said she wasn’t nervous at all, and enjoyed the view from the co-pilot seat.

“The view was awesome,” Aiden Campbell concurred. “Being 2,500 feet up in the air is really cool. It’s really unlike the big planes, too. The big planes are just so much steadier, and you don’t really know what’s going on, but with these, you can feel every little turn and twist.

“It’s really awesome.”

While some, like Oliver Sorg, enjoyed getting to go fast in one of the speedier planes, others, like Gabriel Lipsey, said it was the view they were after.

“It was good. A really good view of the mountains and the ocean,” said Imogen Brown.

This was her first time on anything but a commercial plane. She said this experience was a bit like flying in a box, and a little bit bumpy. “But bumpy is fun,” she added.

Cassie Coates said the flight was her first since flying to Las Vegas at the age of four. She doesn’t remember that trip but said she enjoyed getting in the air and seeing the view from above.

Coates and Bianca Sorg, said they would both like to try being pilots when they grow up.

Some participants got a taste of what that was like, said Connor.

“Once we get them to altitude, 2,500 feet, then we show them what the controls do, and then (the youth in the co-pilot seat) takes over the airplane. Obviously we are looking after them, but yeah, they fly.”

Connor said he’s been volunteering as a pilot with this program for about 12 years.

“You know they are really, really enjoying themselves when it goes really, really quiet, because their eyes are (huge), their mouths are wide open, and they are absolutely gobsmacked,” he said.

After the flight, some participants express an interest in joining the local Air Cadet squadron, which is one way to get involved in aviation, and that’s an important reason the club holds the event, said Connor.

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