September 21, 2023

The sky’s the limit with Kids Fly at SMA Day

Jon Robinson

“It was fun,” say Shanika Latrell and Tatiana Emke, upon their return from a flight with pilot Jamie Hastings over Grey-Bruce during the Kids Fly at SMA event. (Photo: Pauline Kerr, The Walkerton Herald Times)

— By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

BROCKTON – Kids and airplanes – it’s an unbeatable combination, especially when you add sunshine, snacks and a lot of volunteers focused on making sure the kids have a great time.

Jack Zeinstra said the event had originally been scheduled for Aug. 26, but the weather was less than co-operative.

Aug. 27 was completely different, with sunshine replacing the storm clouds. Kids and their families lined up to register for a chance to fly, and pilots lined up with their planes on the runway, ready to go, as Friends of the Saugeen Municipal Airport held the annual Kids Fly at SMA event.

In all, six pilots volunteered their time to introduce kids – 122 of them, aged eight to 17– to flying. The pilots were Jamie Hastings, Tony Lang, Brenda Jolly, Ryan Dewsbury, Devon Allensen, and Rick Lark. Zeinstra said some of them were there for the full five hours – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, he said there were too many other volunteers to list, some from the airport and some from the community.

Each child went on a flight, not just for a couple of minutes but for a good 15 minutes or more, over Grey and Bruce counties. The youngsters were urged to bring along a camera to get some pictures.

After a safety briefing, they were escorted to their plane, and off they went. Upon their return, grins were the rule of the day. Each child was presented with a certificate giving the date of the event and the name of the pilot.

They also got a free hamburger, hot dog or fries from the Fired Up Grilled in Action Food Truck.

One of the “junior pilots” was Olivia Filsinger from Elmwood. The young hockey player (goalie) brought her camera to record the event. Her pilot was Devon Allensen. Olivia’s comment after landing was brief: “Awesome!”

Zeinstra said the event is held annually, usually just before children go back to school. The date for next year’s event hasn’t been set yet, but after the popularity of this year’s Kids Fly at SMA event, it’s sure to be a success.