LAC LA BICHE - If the sky over Lac La Biche isn't filled with storm clouds on Saturday, it might be filled with aircraft.
The Lac La Biche Flying Club has been planning a fly-in barbecue event to raise money and awareness for a cross-Canada flying event that will touch down in the community in June. The Hope Air event is gearing up to raise $1 million in the month of June to help fly patients from remote locations to important health appointments.
Local flying club president Oriana Kononchuk says this Saturday's barbecue is a lead-up to a June 9 Hope Air visit. The barbecue is for invited pilots and passengers only — but she hopes the message about the charity flies around the community.
Kononchuk says the Hope Air project was created in BC by private pilots who wanted to raise money and awareness for people struggling to find transportation from remote areas to medical facilities for care.
Give Hope Wings 2022: Canada Coast to Coast Expedition is an epic multi-aircraft series of flights consisting of two stages from Victoria to Toronto, then to St. John's, Newfoundland, and ending at the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Convention in Montreal at the end of June.
The campaign — that will touch down in 40 communities across country from June 6 to 24 — has a goal to raise $1,000,000. The funds, says Kononchuk, will provide 2,850 flights for patients in financial need who must travel far from home for the medical care they need.
Funds for the project are being raised through online donations, auctions and raffles hosted by participating flying clubs and communities and from private pilots who pledge dollars to fly along portions of the mission's route.
Following this Saturday's fly-in barbecue at the Lac La Biche Airport, the local flying club will be preparing for the June 9 visit of the Hope Air cross-country fundraiser. The Lac La Biche stop will be the eighth landing for aircraft involved in the nationwide fundraiser that will begin on June 6 at the Victoria Airport. Other airports and flying clubs across Canada that are taking part include Kelowna, Peace River, Gimli, Sault Ste. Marie, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Halifax, Goose Bay and Riviere du Loup in Quebec. The total distance that will be flown over the 16-day expedition is 5,129 nautical miles.
While the upcoming barbecue and the June 10 landing might not provide a chance for local aircraft enthusiasts to get up close to the invited planes because of safety issues and manpower, Kononchuk hopes to host a community event at the airport later this summer.
"We will plan the next one a Fly or Drive in and have the appropriate amount of marshallers to accommodate more people," she told Lakeland This Week.
Westjet Trip for 2
For now, the local club is holding an online auction to help raise funds for the Hope Air mission. A WestJet round-trip voucher for two to any destination the airline flies will go to the highest bedder. The auction began on Friday night and has already raised $500. The auction will close at the last bid on June 3 at 6 pm. All proceeds will go to the Hope Air project.
To bid on the travel voucher, click HERE
For more details on the Hope Air campaign, to donate and to learn about chances to fly with the group, visit their website at www.support.hopeair.ca