Up to 200 registered children and youth may enjoy free flights put on by local pilots in local planes August 13
Algoma Aviation Week, to be held August 8 to 14 at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, will be a week to remember for aviation enthusiasts of all ages, from children to veterans.
The event will include the presence of two legendary Second World War United States Army Air Force bombers.
The Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona and the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing will be flying in with a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a North American B-25 Mitchell respectively.
In addition, member pilots of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Sault Ste. Marie Flight 66 (the Sault COPA chapter), will be on hand throughout the week and offer free flights (that’s right, free!) to only pre-registered children and youth August 13 (rain date is August 14) for its second annual COPA for Kids event.
For more information and how to register, click here
More information on Algoma Aviation Week can be found on the event’s Facebook pageand at saultairport.com/aaw
“They (the groups in charge of the World War II bombers) reached out to us and they are going on a tour of Northern Ontario with these two heritage aircraft, and so we thought what a great synergy with COPA,” said Chris Biocchi, Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation (SSMADC) Security and Business Administration Manager, speaking to SooToday.
“There will be a ton of static display aircraft that are going to be there as well, so the day of the 13th there will be more than ‘come out for a flight,’ we’ll also have (at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport) a Bell 47 helicopter, a Harvard World War II RCAF trainer, three home-built local aircraft and model airplanes,” Biocchi said.
COPA Flight 66 revived in 2015 thanks to the efforts of the local aviation community.
A huge part of COPA’s purpose, apart from enjoying events and camaraderie between pilots, is the COPA for Kids Aviation Program.
The program is a two-and-a-half hour introduction to flight for young people, beginning with a close-up look at an aircraft, a brief lesson focusing on the different parts and functions of an aircraft accompanied by a question and answer session, and then a free flight for any registered child or youth aged eight to 17 with a genuine interest in an aviation career.
The reinvigorated COPA Flight 66 held its first COPA for Kids event in the Sault last summer.
“We usually have six or seven aircraft…last year I had 21 kids and it was great, really fun stuff, like being Santa Claus,” said Kim Park, COPA Flight 66 pilot and Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre restorations and display chair.
“Kids for the August 13 event have to pre-register and we have to cut it off at 200 kids,” Park emphasized.
“I want to show these kids about the potential for careers in aviation, you don’t have to be a pilot to get a job in the aviation industry because there are design jobs, technical support jobs, mechanic, you work with metal and plastic composites, there are so many different places for people to find good careers in aviation, a lot of people in the Sault don’t even know about this,” Park said.
“We’re going to have booths from the Department of National Defence and the 155 Borden Gray Royal Canadian Air Cadets as well,” Park said.
Beginning at 4 p.m. August 8 the Sault Airport gates will be open to the public.
Both World War II bombers will be available for tours by the public between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday August 8 and (tentatively) between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. August 9 to 14.
Tour fees will be $10, going to the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona and the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing.
Members of both Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 and American Legion Post 3 from Sault, Michigan will be on hand for a special ceremony when the World War II bombers land August 8.
Food vendors will be available.
“There’s lots of excitement…last year we had our first COPA for Kids and we were pretty much organizing for ourselves, but this year we’ve improved communication between local aviation players, and as a result of this interaction we’re able to bring to our community a very exciting event in Algoma Aviation Week,” said Simone Baj, COPA Flight 66 president.
“Last year we were able to provide flights for about 150 kids and about 350 to 400 people for the COPA for Kids event, so this year on August 13th I’m sure we’ll be able to attract even more people, we’re hoping to have 1,000 attending that day, with flights for 200 kids.”
“We’re going to celebrate those who served in the Armed Forces by bringing in iconic Second World War airplanes, we’re going to educate and promote aviation in our community through some static displays and by doing the COPA for Kids program, and we’re going to inspire, that’s the aim and goal, to inspire the next generation of pilots,” Baj said.
“COPA for Kids is to introduce to youth the joys of flight,” Park said.
“It’s important to raise awareness of the aviation community in Sault Ste. Marie, and at the same time, we’re offering the opportunity to people in the Sault and area to see some aircraft that they probably haven’t seen before and probably won’t see again,” Biocchi said.