The Hope Flight Fest was a success Saturday morning

The Hope Flight Fest was a success Saturday morning

Flight Fest success

Clear skies and good turnout for annual Hope Flight Fest

When Henry Ilg was a young child, he didn’t know any pilots.

Nor did he have access to an airplane, or any other means to get up, up and away into the blue skies overhead.

But he became a pilot regardless, flying commercially for Air Canada. Now retired, Ilg spends at least some of his time in the air volunteering his piloting skills for a program called COPA for Kids. He wants to make sure young people have a chance to catch that “aviation bug.”

He was one of four pilots on hand at the Hope Flight Fest on Saturday, taking children ages eight to 17 out in his 1968 Cessna 177 Cardinal.

“When you’ve been flying for a long time, it can get hum drum,” he said. “But to see the smiles on the kids’ faces makes it exciting again.”

COPA for Kids is a Canada-wide program, made possible by a network of pilots like Ilg.

On Saturday, children and teenagers anxiously awaited their turn to fly the skies above Hope and the Fraser Canyon. They took a flight path south through the valley and then veered over Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs.

Sometimes, Ilg said, it takes more than one flight to really get hooked on being airborne. Other times, the love develops instantly.

He took a relative’s son out in his plane when the boy was 14, and it was one of those times.

Now, that kid is grown and flies for West Jet, he added.

But the free flights were just a small part of the Flight Fest held throughout the morning at the Hope Airpark. Helicopter rides were also being offered, at a small cost. Dozens of visitors had the chance to experience riding in a ‘whirlybird’ for the first time, including Mayor Susan Johnston.

It’s strange she’s never been in one, she noted during the day’s ceremonies; her father, Fred Hornibrook, was a stunt pilot.

“We spent almost every weekend at some fly-in or another,” she said, growing up in New Brunswick.

Her father also inspired and taught two pilots who ended up becoming Snowbirds.

But, their travels never included a helicopter ride and Johnston said she was thrilled to finally have the chance.

For many, the highlight of the day was cheering on Laurie Martin as she was awarded for her long service and dedication to the Hope Airpark. Milly Marshall, manager of the Fraser Valley Regional District recreation, culture and airpark services, handed Martin a large bouquet of flowers and offered a warm hug. A plaque was also given to her, along with one to be placed in her name.

Martin has recently finished her work as supervisor of the airpark. The facility is operated by the Fraser Valley Regional District. She also co-founded the Hope Flight Fest back in 2000, along with Rob Hislop, Hank Demuelder and Reg Hunchuk.

Also attending the ceremony was MP Mark Strahl, who noted the work that’s been done at the air park since the FVRD received a $99,000 grant from the federal Western Diversification Fund. While half of the money is dedicated to regional parks, the other half is being used to upgrade the facility, which provides recreational flyers with an affordable, grassy airstrip and also is an important air field for emergency uses such as the Medivac and fire fighting services.

Upgrades done so far include new siding and a new roof. Still to come are office area and washroom upgrades, including a shower, and a ramp to be installed at the back of the building.

Marshall said the building had a lot of rot, and badly needed repair.

But something that’s not in the books for the Hope Airpark is a paved runway. There’s not really a need for one, Marshall said.

“There are not many (grassy airstrips) left in Canada,” she said, and a conscious decision has been made to keep it natural. The groups who use the airstrip don’t require pavement, and grass is sufficient even in an emergency.

“A 747 did land here once, long ago,” Marshall added.

For a list of upcoming COPA for Kids dates, visit www.copaforkids.org.

For information on services available at the Hope Airpark, phone 604-869-2304.

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read