One of these pilots is none other than BCGA Director and President of the Kelowna Flying Club Dave McElroy. Dave has previously completed a flight around the world for another medical charity.
This innovative flying project will fund at least 2,000 free medical flights in 2018. The project warrants national coverage because it is
a national story about a high profile mission for an organization which serves less fortunate Canadians from coast to coast.
The Kelowna Flying Club is hosting a launch ceremony for Give Hope Wings/Hope Air. Hope Air is an iconic charity which provides free medical flights to financially challenged Canadians who must get to healthcare far from home. Last year Hope Air provided 11,500 flights - from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and everywhere in between. Over 1,400 of these were from YLW alone.
Visit www.givehopewings.ca to learn more.
A pilot who flew around the world in 80 days plans to lead a team on another epic flight, from B.C. around the tip of South America.
Dave McElroy is commander of the 32,000 km flight. The trip starts Jan. 2 and is expected to take 60 days. Along the way, McElroy plans to land 57 times and visit 20 countries.
The trip combines McElroy’s lifelong love of flying with helping to raise money for a good cause. The trip is called Give Hope Wings because McElroy and his team of aviators and adventurers plan to raise $500,000 for Hope Air, a charity that helps Canadians fly to get medical care. If the team reaches their goal, they’ll be able to fund more than 2,000 medical flights.
“We’re not doing this just for fun,” McElroy said by phone from Kelowna.
“We’re going to do some good. Hope Air is an amazing organization. They do great work and we’re raising money for them.”
In 2014, McElroy, a retired wood products executive, raised money for two charities by flying a single engine Piper Comanche around the world in 80 days.
McElroy, now 70, has been a pilot since he was 19.
“I just love flying. There’s nothing like it in the world,” he said.
“You know, you take off and two or three hours later you’re in a totally different culture. It’s amazing.”
McElroy came up with the idea of a north-south adventure after he and friend Russ Airey of Windsor finished a two-week flight from B.C. to Alaska last year. Since that flight headed north and then south,
McElroy figured the next one should be the opposite and head south and then north.
He said he’ll be applying what he learned flying around the globe to his “world-class adventure” to South America.
The third pilot/crew member is Harold Fast of Spiritwood, Sask.
The aviators will be flying two homebuilt Van’s Aircraft planes. McElroy estimates they will be flying about two to six hours a day when they’re not taking a break on the ground and sightseeing.
The planes will travel down the western edge of North and South America as far south as Ushuaia, the capital of Tiera del Fuego. Then they’ll head north up the eastern side of South America through the Caribbean to Fort Pierce Florida. Once there, the two planes will split up: McElroy’s returning to B.C. and Airey’s to Ontario.
Give Hope Wings has already raised more than $400,000 toward its goal.
A significant amount of that money has been donated by people who have paid $30,000 to be part of the team. So far, donors have covered seven of eight spots. Donors get the right to sit next to McElroy during certain segments.
Bob Vance is one of the volunteer flight crew. The first to sign up for the trip, he’s accompanying McElroy from San Diego to Panama.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Vance said by phone from Victoria.
Vance, who has known McElroy for about 40 years, said Hope Air is probably better known in rural Canada than in the big cities.
“They do very good work,” he said.
Since 1986, Hope Air has arranged 120,000 free flights for low income Canadians.
Donations can be made at givehopewings.ca