After giving his mom a spontaneous hug, nine-year-old Gavin Brown settled in for a free plane ride thanks to the COPA for Kids day held in Williams Lake Saturday.
“I love you mom,” he called out bravely to his mother Jen, and then gave two thumbs up for the camera.
Gavin was among more than 90 youth who enjoyed a plane ride at the hands of 10 pilots — nine from the Williams Lake Flying Club and his pilot Jim Van Doren from Prince George who flew down to help out with the day.
“It’s a smooth day,” Van Doren said before he took off. “There’s a little wind picking up, but that doesn’t affect us because we are 5,000 feet up in the air.”
Club member Larry Chambers wasn’t flying Saturday but he was there helping the day run smoothly.
“We were fogged in for about the first half hour,” Chambers said. “Since then it’s gone steadily.”
Chambers said the pilots offer the day out of their own pockets as a way to give kids a chance to have a plane ride and perhaps entice new pilots.
The Williams Lake Flying Club has about 30 members, president Mike Barbour said.
“We have been running this day upward of 10 years,” Barbour added.
Eleven-year-old Andrew Rud couldn’t stop smiling as he walked toward his mom after his ride.
It wasn’t his first time in a small plane, but he enjoyed it nevertheless.
“I just really like going up really high in the sky,” he said.
As Cameron Linde prepared to take Kaydin Sheppard and his sister Lena in his 1947 Piper PA12, he said he learned how to fly a plane before he could drive.
“I was 15 and my dad came home and said there was a satellite flying school in Williams Lake that I should go to and learn how to fly.”
That was in 1967 and in 1969, Linde bought his first plane — yup — the one he flies today.
“I enjoy the freedom of getting out and checking on things and seeing the country,” he said.
As the event came to a close, Don Stanchfield took the Tribune for a flight in his 1974 Citabria, giving this reporter a bird’s eye view of the place Williams Lakers call home.
The other pilots who offered rides through the four-hour event were Ron Kaufman, Tony Forster, Lloyd Como, Harold Redekop, Roger Patenaude, Mike Gibbons and Marty Lauren.
Their wives and supporters handled registration and served the youth and their families lunch as well.