The Vernon Flying Club is more than just people flying airplanes.
It’s one of the oldest, most successful such clubs in the province.
Since its inception in 1946 with 39 members, the Vernon Flying Club, now grown to more than 100 members, is one of the most thriving associations in B.C.
“We know this from comments received from others and, more importantly, because several members from other aviation communities have chosen to join us,” said club spokesperson Alison Crerar. “While we might not be able to pinpoint exactly what makes us so successful, we do know we have a lot going on and we have a lot of fun.”
The club and Silver Star Rotary recently hosted the fourth annual Wings and Wheels at the Vernon Airport on Father’s Day, June 17.
An increasingly successful
event to raise money for local charities, the attendance numbers keep growing every year. More than 2,000 people came through the gates to enjoy a rare day of sunshine and the many activities for all ages. Most popular with the kids were the airplane flights, both in the air for the older kids and on the ground for the younger set.
The club, also known as COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) Flight 65, flew 101 very excited junior aviators on introductory flights around the area.
“Pilots are always keen to share their love of aviation, whether it’s their vocation or their sport, and are happy to donate their time, aircraft and fuel to give kids between the ages of eight and 17 a taste of the thrill of flight,” said Crerar.
Youngsters go through a short ground school on the basics of flight, the airplane and safety aspects while on board for the 20-minute flight.
Upon landing, it’s hard to tell who is more excited and who have the biggest grins, the kids or the pilots.
Younger kids became “Barnstormers” and scrambled in for a ride in the barrel planes, now in their second year of operation. Towed behind a small garden tractor, the seven little aircraft are a huge hit and the ‘pilots’ took 287 little folk around the patch,’ operating non-stop from opening to closing time.
The club got off to a busy start in January.
Always on the lookout for a reason to socialize and a way to help the community, January saw the club participating in The Rice Box’s annual Wokathon. All proceeds were divided between the local Cambodian Support Group and Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Other charities supported by the club include the local Food Bank (where Good News Bears were made in the images of Amelia Bearheart and Wilbear Wright for the local television food bank fundraiser and have contributed food and money to the Food Bank on a yearly basis).
Club members grounded themselves and took part in the Heart Fund’s Big Bike Ride on several occasions, at one time being the biggest Big Bike fundraiser in the community.
“We’ve supported North Okanagan Community Life Society, Treehouse, Katimavik, Santas Anonymous and Teen Junction,” said Crerar. “Our Christmas Family project has been particularly rewarding. Members have a lot of fun shopping and wrapping gifts for the families we support.”
Each year the club grants aviation bursaries to promising students in aviation fields, another example of the club’s generosity and commitment to the future of aviation.
The annual “Rust Remover” seminar on Saturday the 28th was preceded by a pot luck social on Friday evening.
This informative session is becoming increasingly popular, and this year the 193 attendees included participants from as far away as Port Alberni, Fort McMurray and Edmonton.
A Transport Canada-approved pilot training seminar featured excellent topics and presenters.
A large turnout of members was on hand as the Vernon club hosted its most successful COPA for Kids day to date.
On Saturday, May 5, the club had 11 aircraft in operation and 124 kids flown.
Check out the Vernon Flying Club website, www.vernonflyingclub.org, for more information.
Visitors and new members are always welcome.