— By Phil Lightstone
A high-pressure system dominated southern Ontario on Saturday, May 13, 2023, just in time for the Hope Gives Wings charity fly-in at the Brantford Municipal Airport (CYFD). The event was organized and sponsored by the Brantford Flying Club (BFC) and Hope Air.
Hope Air is a non-profit organization organizing volunteers to deliver flights for medical patients living in remote areas of Canada, who are required to travel great distances for medical appointments. Their motto “Bridging the distance between home and hospital” succinctly describes their mission statement.
Hope Air supports healthcare patients throughout every stage of their journey to wellness with the generous help of their donors, partners and volunteers. To alleviate the stress of traveling long distances by car or train, Hope Air provide free flights through the generous donations of their airline partners and volunteer pilots.
Supporting Hope Air, the Brantford fly-in had 60 aircraft, 200 attendees and 18 volunteers attend the event. While the event officially kicked off at 11:00 am, aircraft began arriving to this non-control-towered airport as early at 10:00 am. The BFC began serving a BBQ lunch at 11:30 featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, a variety of salads and cold refreshing drinks.
Two round-trip WestJet tickets and four aviation rides were raffled off. The $10 BBQ lunch and $5 raffle tickets (six tickets for $20) totaling $5,400 were donated to Hope Air. With severe clear VFR weather and a slight crosswind favoring runway 05, the flights into Brantford were uneventful. A variety of aircraft attended the event, including Cessnas, Pipers, Commanders, Columbia, VANs RVs, a stunning Waco bi-plane and a variety of other homebuilt aircraft.
In attendance were a number of Brantford city elected officials, including: City of Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis; Brian Hutchins CAO City of Brantford; Brantford City Councillor Greg Martin (who is a licensed pilot); and Brantford Airport Board Chair, Mark Littell (a 50 year member of the BFC). The speakers praised the efforts of the volunteers and the pilots attending the event.
During 2023, Hope Air has launched a program called Give Hope Wings with three unique expeditions focused on Western Canada, the Prairies and Eastern Canada. Give Hope Wings’ goal is to raise funds and awareness for Hope Air. The expeditions stop in large urban airports, Hope Air patient communities and hallmark aviation communities. Highlights will include aerial views of some of Canada’s most unique aviation sights, connections to Hope Air patients along the way and community events in both urban and rural settings.
Participating Hope Air pilots are setting up personal fundraising pages which allows each Hope Air pilot to track donations from family, friends and corporate sponsor supporters. All donations over $20 receive a charitable donation receipt. More information can be found at Hope Air’s events page.
Fly-in events like this one held by the BFC are not only a great way to knock the rust off of your pilot’s license, meet new friends, but also enjoy the comradery associated with an aviation environment. Supporting not for profit organizations like Hope Air is the cherry on top of the Sunday. Social media platforms like COPA’s Facebook page and COPA’s Event website page are great ways to see upcoming events in your area.