A net $55,000 was raised at COPA’s first annual LIFT Gala held at the Telus Spark Centre in Calgary, Alberta on Thursday, October 3. All proceeds will go to COPA’s charitable Flight Safety Foundation, which was created in 1974 to provide safety education and related work such as the General Aviation Safety Campaign, as well as putting people through flight training via COPA’s Neil J. Armstrong scholarships.

The black-tie event attended by more than 115 people was headlined by two legendary Canadian aviators: WestJet co-founder Don Bell and retired Canadian astronaut and test pilot Chris Hadfield. Both gentlemen were hosted on stage by COPA’s newest director, Kate Klassen, who was recently elected to represent British Columbia and the Yukon.

In an interview format, each of the headliners were asked by Klassen a series of questions that allowed both Bell and Hadfield to describe what aviation meant to them, and how they got to where they are today.

One of the highlights of the evening was Hadfield’s rendition of the David Bowie hit song Space Oddity, played on a Larrivée guitar, identical to the one he used in the International Space Station while he was station commander. The Vancouver-designed and manufactured guitar, which would normally retail for around $3,500, fetched $4,200 during the live auction conducted afterwards by professional lawyer and amateur auctioneer Glen Grenier (who incidentally did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd during the auction).

Other items were claimed after a silent auction as well as a few others during the live auction, including time in WestJet’s 737 simulator with Don Bell, and a 40-minute ride again with Bell in his private Airbus helicopter.

The grand prize of a trip for two anywhere in the world WestJet flies was also drawn.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Photo above, from left: Don Bell, Kate Klassen and Chris Hadfield.