Very few people in the aviation community would have thought that anther Children’s Flight would be on the cards for 2020. Not after the terrible year, we have all endured but Felix Gosher and his dedicated team were determined to once again bring some light into the lives of underprivileged young ones. The Children’s Flight 2020 was nowhere near the scale of the previous years but what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in sheer spirit, love and enthusiasm.
The day started off very early for the children and the team with pilots flying into Orient Airfield from as early as 6:30. Some of the pilots were delayed slightly due to a large mist bank that covered a major part of Gauteng, fortunately, the mist burnt off pretty quickly leaving a beautiful day to share the wonders of flight with the children. Orient Airfield truly became a field of dreams for the day, a day that will hopefully inspire the children to believe and more importantly follow their dreams.
"What a fantastic day it was and to be a part of bringing so much joy to the little ones that would not ever get the chance to experience the aviation we take for granted. Felix and his team have done wonders to put the day together." - Derek Hopkins
The Children that were invited to enjoy, what many of us take for granted, have all been through horrors that most of us can in no way comprehend. Some of the young “Super Heroes” were victims of abuse and others were have been burnt in shack fires that left them permanently scarred and disfigured. The resilience of these young souls was an inspiration to all that spent a bit of time getting to know their circumstance. The Children’s Flight Motto is “Fly Feed Love Inspire” and this year I believe the majority of the inspiration and love was supplied by the kids rather than the other way around.
"I had the honour to be part of the Children’s Flight. We are all going through turmoil in our lives due to the Covid epidemic and it is easy to let despair into our hearts. To experience the love and happiness of these beautiful people in need has certainly given me a new perspective of my own situation. To bring joy into their lives was an experience of serene fulfilment that I will carry in my heart for a long time." - Johan von Solms
After a welcome from Felix to everyone and a briefing for all the pilots by Safety Director Francois “Hosepipe” Hannekom it was time to get the flying under-way. The first aircraft to take to the skies was an Atlas Angel carrying the skydivers to altitude. Ralph Ridge and his team exited the aircraft displayed various flags of key sponsors and of course the massive South African flag all of this to the sound of the national anthem.
We all had challenges in 2020 with what the Civil Pandemic dished up to us. When you meet these children and hear about their lives, it makes 2020 look like a picnic. What a privilege it was to be involved and fly 8 children who touched my life profoundly. Our challenges are tiny compared to what these children have mustered through and it made me more grateful for all I have. Great to be a part of it. - Ryan Beeton
Once the Skydivers were safely on the ground it was time to give the children their first taste of flight but before they could take to the skies they had to undergo a quick medical at the ER24 tent. Each child received a medical certificate then it was off to the waiting aircraft for a flight of a lifetime.
A continuous stream of children meeting pilots continued for most of the morning, some of the pilots performed rolls with the more daring children and judging by the smiles on their return they love every second of it. The joy on these young one's faces when they landed was so humbling and some of the pilots could be seen swallowing hard on the massive lump in their throats, the non-existent wind blew dust in the eyes of the pilots causing a few tears after landing :)
“To be frank I was really moved by the day. Most of the children were understandably a little apprehensive before experiencing their first-ever flight, but once we got up into the air, their reactions were all very similar – pure joy! Several kids even started laughing with total delight, this was touching to experience first-hand. It is a gift to be able to take another person into the air for their first time ever. By the time we had landed, one felt a bond had developed between you and that child. I am sure all the pilots felt the same way. Well done to Felix and his superb team”. - Elton Bondi
The flying programme was halted for a special treat at 11:30, The Puma Energy Flying Lions joined from Rand to thrill the young ones with a truly polished display of graceful Harvard Aerobatics.
After all the fixed-wing flights were done the kids were treated to a helicopter flight as well, Charles Fuller and Rob Osner made their ex SAAF Alouette II and III available for yet another magnificent flying experience.
"The Children’s flight is an event I been looking forward to since 2019. The big difference between 2019 and 2020 is that this year I was able to not only show the kids what flight and aerobatics is all about but actually let them experience it with me, which was amazing! The enthusiasm and energy from these young kids really inspire me and reminds me just how lucky I am to do what I do and to have the ability to give something back! Here’s hoping that I have inspired them as they have done me! 👍🏽" - Patrick Davidson
The younger children were encouraged to take part in a colouring competition while the older kids built balsa wood gliders, the winners of each competition were taken for a flight in a glider by members of the Magaliesburg Glider Club. It is believed that a world record may have been set with these two children flying in a fixed-wing, a helicopter and a glider on the first day they had ever flown.
The 2020 Children's Flight held at Orient Gliding Club was wonderful to be a part of. The amount of energy poured into the lives of children at an event like this was inspiring and without doubt, the Captain of Inspirational Energy is Felix Gosher. Well done Felix!
Chatting to "parents" of some of the safe homes quickly helps one to see life through a different lens. It was wonderful to share our passion for things aeronautical with children of a variety of ages. The smile of a child is a great tonic. Watching children delighting in the freedom of flight is a real privilege. Thanks to all involved for a great event. - Trevor Warner
The line-up of pilots that steeped up to the plate for this year's Children’s Flight read like a who’s who of the aviation world ranging from Red Bull air race pilots to National Aerobatics Champions as well as a number of the international airshow pilots. The effort from all of these individual pilots was amazing one of which travelled all the way from Port Elizabeth just to be a part of the event, then flew all the way back the same afternoon, Well done Patrick.
After the flying all the pilots were individually called to the stage to receive their commemorative wings, something I’m sure will find a place of honour in their homes or hangars. To try and single out anyone at an event like this is almost impossible but Felix’s right-hand girl deserves a special mention here is a note to her from Felix.
“I want to thank Laurien before you all.... she was the difference between good and outstanding.... never known a person who wears responsibility and creativity all in one.... never known an organizer who cares more for the event than what the event can do for them.... Laurien is a person who climbed from three decor challenges to Organizer of Children’s Flight... she has earned it, without a cent paid to her... she gives from the heart❤️”
A personal note from the Flightline team to everyone that was involved with this superb event – “Thank you for all you did for the children you deserve a massive round of applause for you dogged determination to make this a reality under very, almost impossible, circumstances. Well done everyone.”
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