Kids and pilots on ‘cloud nine’

Kids and pilots on ‘cloud nine’

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COPA for Kids pilot Phil Anderson takes Xavier Subotin for a thrilling flight at the Oliver Airport during the event on June 11. Photo by Dan Walton
COPA for Kids pilot Phil Anderson takes Xavier Subotin for a thrilling flight at the Oliver Airport during the event on June 11. Photo by Dan Walton
COPA for Kids pilot Phil Anderson takes Xavier Subotin for a thrilling flight at the Oliver Airport during the event on June 11. Photo by Dan Walton

Defying the law of gravity for the first time is a lot to take in.

A handful of youngsters were given free aerial tours of the Oliver area last week during COPA for Kids, many of them having never experienced flight before.

“When I went down super fast and I went back up, that was really fun,” said 8-year-old Xavier Subotin, who flew tandem with Phil Anderson during his first-ever plane ride.

From up in the air, Oliver looked tiny, much different than how he expected it to. Mountains on the other hand, still looked like mountains, but they appeared much brighter from up high.

Before the actual flight, each young passenger was taught about the dynamics of a plane and safety procedures.

Xavier said his favourite part of the roughly 20-minute ride was when they passed over Osoyoos Lake. He added that Anderson is good at flying, and he plans on returning next year for another free flight.

“He was mostly just excited about the day,” said his father Jeremy. “Right before takeoff he got a little nervous, but not too scared to do it.”

Another pilot who donated his day to COPA was Victor Seder.

While Seder is an avid supporter of COPA for Kids, he had no flying experience as a child and waited until he was 50 before learning to fly. He said once he began having to commute regularly between Oliver and Vancouver, upgrading his mode of transportation was an easy decision.

“Flying takes one hour and 20 minutes from Boundary Bay to here, and it can take up to five hours to drive,” he said. “Plus it’s a lot more fun flying than driving.”

Seder flies a Cessna 182 four-seater, and has strapped about 60 youngsters into his plane since he began volunteering for COPA four years ago.

“Some of them are excited, some are nervous, some are laid back, but they all have a good time,” he said.

He said the questionable weather on June 11 may have deterred a few families from coming out, but fortunately the harsher weather stayed isolated from the tour area.

“The rain that looks like it’s coming in might create some wind and turbulence, but so far today it’s been very smooth,” he said.

“Kids don’t like turbulence usually.”

Seder said the direction of the wind on Saturday morning, blowing straight down the runway, made landings a little easier.

“This way it assists pilots with the landing,” he said. “When the wind comes in from the side it makes it tricky.”

On the ground, volunteer Ron Johnson said COPA for Kids is an exciting opportunity for kids, but he was hoping more children would have taken advantage.

“I would have liked to have a few more kids show up, but the hard part is getting the word out,” he said.

Johnson, who has been volunteering with COPA for 10 years, said it’s important to share with children the opportunity to fly, and he believes the event instills lasting interest among young people.

By Dan Walton

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