Alistair Waters/Capital News Pilot Dave McElroy gives the thumbs up as he gets ready to take off from Kelowna’s airport Tuesday on the 60-day, 20,000-mile Give Hope Wings journey across North, Central and South America.

Fundraising flights take off from Kelowna’s airport

Give Hope Wings will take three pilots in two small planes to 20 countries in the Americas

Three pilots—including one from Kelowna—are “giving hope wings.”

The trio, flying two small experimental aircraft, took off from Kelowna’s airport Tuesday morning on the first leg of a 20,000-mile, two-month journey that will take them to 20 countries in North, Central and South America.

The journey is a fundraiser for Hope Air, a Canadian charity that provides medical flights for financially challenged Canadians who need medical care far from their homes.

Dave McElroy, who is also president of the Kelowna Flying Club, is one of three pilots making the trip. He said he felt lucky to be part of the trip.

“This all started as a great adventure,” he said. “Then when we saw it would help others, we couldn’t think of a better thing to do.”

On the trip, McElroy will fly his small Vans RV 6 plan, while fellow pilots Russ Airy of Ontario and Harold Fast of Saskatchewan will fly alongside in Airy’s Vans RV 9A plane.

McElroy said the original goal was to raise $500,000 for Hope Air, but moments before take off, he told a gathering of about 50 people at the airport that the trio had already raised $480,000.

While the journey will be the biggest for the three retirees, they are no strangers to this kind of long-distance flight.

The three met during a multi-stop flight around Alaska a few years ago.

Airy, who built his plane himself, said he was looking forward to the trip, not just for the experience he will get, but also for the good it will do raising money and awareness for Hope Air.

Last year Hope Air provided 11,500 free flights across Canada for those in need and this year it expects to see that number rise to 12,500. More than 1,400 of the flights originated in Kelowna, said YLW director Sam Samaddar, who along with Mayor Colin Basran was at the airport to see the trio off Tuesday morning.

Basran said he was happy to see the pilots embark on their epic journey from Kelowna, calling it fitting that a project aimed at helping others was starting in a city that has shown time and time again it’s willing to help those in need.

After talking to the crowd, the trio squeezed into the cockpits of their small aircraft and took off from a very snowy YLW runway, headed for Washington State, where they were to clear customs for entrance into the U.S.

It will be a procedure they will do 19 more times on the trip, as the journey will take them to 20 different countries. Over the next 60 days, they will make 50 individual flights.

Their progress can be tracked in real time on the GiveHopeWings.ca website.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colouring book will feature images of Summerland

Project is a joint initiative of Summerland Museum and Summerland Community Arts Council

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Large item collection events cancelled in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Concerns about spread of COVID-19 led to decision to cancel collection events

Organizers hoping to hold Summerland Fall Fair

COVID-19 pandemic may result in changes to agricultural celebration

Okanagan real estate market stable; bracing for slowdown due to COVID-19

Real estate board projects slowdown as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to develop

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

KGH Foundation establishes COVID-19 response fund to support frontline workers

Doctors, nurses and staff have been challenged to pivot operations to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Food support continues for Okanagan students despite school closures

Kids aren’t going hungry thanks to Kal Rotary and Starfish Backpack program

Emergency services respond to numerous incidents on Highway 1

Today there were multiple semi truck crashes on Highway 1 and a collision by the hospital

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19: Central Okanagan fire departments only responding to serious medical calls

The new directive from Dr. Bonnie Henry does not change the public safety response of firefighters

Most Read