The COPA for Kids event at the Vernon Regional Airport July 13 drew 100 kids between the ages of eight and 17 to introduce them to aviation. (Katherine Peters - Morning Star)

Vernon COPA for Kids program soars

Free flights for kids eight to 17 to introduce them to general aviation draws full field of 1oo



The morning of July 13 was a wonderful day for 118 eight-to-17-year-olds to take to the air in a small plane at the COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) for Kids event at the Vernon Regional Airport.

Members of the Vernon Flying Club/COPA Flight #65 volunteered not only their time but also their aircraft to provide “Junior Aviators” with the opportunity to come to the airport and get up close to some small planes, learn a little about how they work and finally go fly in one.

Parents got to see what goes on at the airport and learn of its many benefits to the community and kids that were too young to fly got to pilot their very own “barrel plane” as they were pulled around the airport.

Also in attendance were local members of CASARA (Canadian Air Search And Rescue Association) and 223 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets, who spoke with attendees about the many benefits and services their organizations provide.

The intent of the COPA for Kids aviation program is to inspire Canadian youth with an exciting experience and introduce them to the world of general aviation. And it’s all free of charge. With the support of COPA and AIG Canada (the insurance underwriters), COPA Flights all over the nation host these events at their home airports.

To date, the COPA for Kids program has introduced more than 23,000 young Canadians to general aviation, with 1,500 courtesy of the Vernon Flying Club/COPA Flight 65. For some of these kids it will just be a fun hour or so at the airport. For others it will ignite a passion for flying and perhaps inspire them to pursue one of the many career paths aviation has to offer.

READ MORE: Free flights for kids return courtesy Vernon Flying Club

However, while that is the intent of COPA, for the many volunteers who give their time and the pilots who also give the use of their airplanes it is far more than that. For them, flying and aviation are a passion and every bit a part of their lives as eating and sleeping. There is a saying that goes, ‘ask any pilot (or insert aviation career of your choice) how they got started in aviation and you will hear a love story.’

Most of those who are involved with aircraft in some way had in their past a point of “first contact” with aviation. For many it was their first ride in an airplane that forever changed them. At that instant a switch was flipped and from then on, they spent a great deal of time looking up at anything that flew overhead.

For these volunteers COPA for Kids is about paying it forward and giving kids the opportunity to have that “first contact.” It is the thrill of watching the huge cross section of kids, different in so many ways but now all somehow the same once they returned to the ground; thrilled and forever changed by their experience.

It is the excitement of watching apprehension, wonder and maybe just a little fear turns to focus and understanding of something that, perhaps only an hour ago, was a complete mystery. The point that everything finally makes sense and the “magic” that was flight has given way to real world things that can be quantified, envisioned and understood.

The Vernon Flying Club/COPA Flight 65 host COPA for Kids once a year in the second or third week of July. Registration usually opens a month prior. For more information on the COPA for Kids program and how you can get your young aero-nut involved next year e-mail the coordinator at and like/follow their Facebook page @c4k.vernon to be kept informed about upcoming events.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Those who were not old enough to take part in the free flight offered by COPA for Kids at the Vernon Airport July 13 were able to pilot their own barrel plane. (Photo - submitted)

Just Posted

Vernon sewer hook-up smells fishy

Okanagan Landing resident questions City of Vernon timing on counter-petition plan

Vernon takes step towards cutting carbon footprint of its buildings

City council decided on Monday to adopt the BC Energy Step Code to improve its building efficiency

Spallumcheen adventure park concerns

Neighbour to proposed adventure park in Spallumcheen offers up his concerns on project

Entrepreneur gives Vernon’s homeless women a boost

The woman says she’ll continue to package and send out bags of products from her self-run business

Vernon mom rescues sleeping baby from burning home

UPDATE: Investigation still underway into cause of blaze

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

Civil claim filed over motocross track west of Summerland

Track was constructed on agricultural land around 2016

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Car catches fire while being towed by motor home on Hwy. 97

The incident occured just north of Sage Mesa Rd., no injuries have been reported

Most Read