An airplane with children onboard takes off from the Springhouse Airpark Airport Saturday as part of the Williams Lake Flying Club’s annual COPA for Kids event

An airplane with children onboard takes off from the Springhouse Airpark Airport Saturday as part of the Williams Lake Flying Club’s annual COPA for Kids event

COPA for Kids provides aviation thrills

Children with a keen interest in flying soared through brilliant blue skies thanks to pilots from the Williams Lake Flying Club.

Children with a keen interest in flying soared through brilliant blue skies and over blankets of green and gold Saturday thanks to pilots from the Williams Lake Flying Club.

The club’s annual COPA for Kids event took place at the Springhouse Airpark Airport, with smiling faces all around.

“I love it — anything to do with airplanes and kids.” said club pilot Don Stanchfield of why he supports the event every year.

With his 1974 two-seater Bellanca Citabria, Stanchfield was one of several pilots on hand to give children free rides to help inspire and instil a love of flying in the next generation of aviators.

“Ever since I was a kid I just loved airplanes and flying. I’ve been flying for 34 years now and every time my wheels leave the ground it still feels great.”

Long-time pilots Dave Ireland and Lyle Connatty were also on hand to offer flights to kids.

Ireland, who was unable to fly the plane himself Saturday while he recovers from eye surgery, and Connatty co-own a four-seater Cessna 175.

“We had many great trips in that plane — from the Bering Strait to Hudson Bay,” said Ireland as he watched his plane take off from the runway.

Ireland said he learned to fly in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial, and is proud to be apart of such a long, rich history with the local flying club.

“The flying heritage here goes a long ways back.”

For 12-year-old Mat Huston, flying in a fixed wing airplane for the first time was a thrill.

“It was so much fun,” said Huston. “Especially when he flew us up, and then down fast.”

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