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.

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

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Cops for Kids riders will be spinning 30 feet in the air on scissor lifts at SaveOn Foods locations in Kelowna, Lake Country and West Kelowna Saturday, May 8, 2021. (File photo)
Cops reach new heights for Okanagan kids

Nor-Val Rentals is doing the heavy lifting Saturday in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Kiley and her sisters-in-law Jacqueline Olson and Heidi Routley will be participating in the Sleep Out: Home Edition event May 28, 2021. (Contributed)
North Okanagan trio to sleep rough to raise funds for homeless youth

Back to Earth team of Lavington aim to raise $5K in support of the cause

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

Memorials have been set up to honour those who died during the Second World War. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: It’s time to stop making comparisons to Hitler

The deadliest, most destructive war in human history should not become a metaphor

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Kelowna seen from the top of Knox Mountain. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
Accessibility concerns raised as Kelowna ponders banning vehicles from Knox Mountain

Knox Mountain Drive, which leads to two lookouts, has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began

(Pixabay photo)
Cow-based wildfire mitigation pilot contended by Southeast Kelowna group

‘Targeted grazing’ program would see 50 cows deployed to 60-hectare parcel above Field Road

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Most Read