It was a picture-perfect day for 30 young aviators to take to the skies of the South Cariboo last Saturday.
The 100 Mile House Flying Club’s Ninth Junior Kids Fly Day was the first time many attendees had set foot in a plane. That was the case for Horse Lake Elementary School’s Gauge Bishop, Lincoln Jensen and Blayne Taylor who enjoyed the first flight of the day in the club’s Cessna 172.
“I’ve wanted to be in a plane forever. Now that I finally got in one, it was awesome,” Gauge said. “It was crazy the way the world looked from up there. It looked like the world just went on forever and some of the lakes had different shadows depending on their depth.”
Gauge said the experience more than lived up to his expectations and opened his eyes to the possibility of becoming a pilot one day. His friend Lincoln, dressed in his 2887 Rocky Mountain Rangers cadet uniform, got the chance to actually fly the plane over Horse Lake, under pilot Len Aune’s watchful eye.
“It definitely made me want to fly a plane when I get older,’ Lincoln said. “I was a little bit nervous at first but it ended up being really fun.”
Inspiring young people to look at aviation as a possible career choice is what the day is all about, said club president Ursula Hart. A graduate of Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, Hart was a commercial pilot for several years before returning to 100 Mile House and joining the club in 2012.
“We hope to inspire kids from Grades 7 to 12 with the idea to potentially pursue a career in aviation. Whether that’s for air traffic control, as pilots, or whatever falls under the aviation umbrella,” Hart said. “Annually we try to make this event available for kids to go up and also see their backyards from the air.”
Lincoln said he loved seeing the landscape of the South Cariboo and found it surprising how much smaller landmarks like the Lone Butte looks from the air. Blayne agreed everything looked super small, which he found almost hard to believe.
The trio loved sharing their first ride together and said they hope to fly again one day, as passengers or as pilots.
Along with the members of PSO aviation class that the club took up in June, Hart said they provided flights to 40 pre-teens and teenagers this year.
They had 29 bookings on Saturday and staggered them like an airline, taking up six passengers at a time in two Cessna 172s after a theory of flight ground school.
PSO student Faith Stroup said she found out about the event through her school. A lot of her classmates felt it wouldn’t be worth it, Faith said, but she enjoyed the free flight.
“I’ve flown in a plane before but (a big plane) to Mexico and Alberta, not a small plane like this,” Faith said. “It was pretty cool, fun and interesting. I could have done it all day.”
Wil Law, by contrast, has taken part in the club’s Junior Kids Fly Day for the last four years. Wil said clear days are the best for flying.
“It’s a lot of fun every time and I just love seeing all the cool hills and lakes you can’t get to in a car,” Wil said.
Hart said Saturday was a perfect day for some of the youth to try flying as there “wasn’t a bump in the sky.”
The day was sponsored by the District of 100 Mile House and Cariboo Regional District.
Anyone interested in joining the club is invited to check it out online via 100milehouseflyingclub.com.