Saturday morning dawned and Stellenbosch Flying Club was a hive of activity, as members prepared to welcome the Reach for a Dream Foundation and 45 children together with their parents and friends. A cloudy and overcast day threatened to put a damper on the morning’s events, but the weather gods were kind and the clouds slowly lifted and the sun started to shine.
Members of the Stellenbosch Flying Club gave up their time and volunteered to give the children a chance to realise one of their dreams – to have a chance to fly. Something which we all take for granted, but for these children, it was just a dream. Other members ran around seeing that everything was in place, by the time the families arrived.
The day’s proceedings began at 9 a.m. when the pilots attended a briefing. Paul Liebrecht quickly spoke about the necessary paperwork that needed to be completed and then Rickus Erasmus spoke to the pilots, about the route they were going to fly, the usual general safety rules and any contingency plans that might arise.
The kids and their families started to arrive at 0930 and were soon checked in and given a cap and some goodies. It was amazing to see these kids. They are all suffering from some form of life-threatening illness – mainly cancer and to be able to come out and do something that we all take for granted and do every day, was something quite special. The nervous excitement of them all is not something one can easily describe.
The kids were then introduced to the pilots who were going to fly them. Many were quite nervous and really did not know what to expect. However, the calm and caring demeanour of the pilots soon put them at rest.
Some of the kids were lucky enough to get a flight in the Antonov An 2, with Gideon Langeveldt at the controls, whilst some were able to fly with a parent – those lucky ones were flown by Derrick Lord, in the Bosbok. (I’m not sure who was more nervous, the mother or the child!)
Several kids, who are confined to wheelchairs to get around, were taken for a flight in the Albatross, with Altus Basson and Raymond Solomon flying them. To see these kids roaring around the apron, without fear and such confidence, was quite something.
The flight was not a long one – but enough to give the kids a chance to see the Stellenbosch area from another view – one they had never done before – from an aircraft.
All too soon the flights returned and it was amazing to see the smiles and joy on the kids’s faces. They had finally realised a dream – to take to the air and I don’t think there was one that did not enjoy it. Just to be able to do something that seemed impossible a few days ago had been done.
The parents were thoroughly enjoying the morning as well and it was quite emotional to see some of them and how excited they were for their children. The kindness of the Stellenbosch members was appreciated by all of them.
Of course, the club did not disappoint and drinks and snacks were available for them to enjoy after their flights. The kids, that reached their dream, were also presented with a certificate, signed by the pilot that flew them.
The Reach for a Dream Foundation is made up mainly of volunteers, who give their time to help the children. The children are all suffering from terminal illnesses – cancer, in most cases and the organisation relies on donations to get by and help the kids reach their dreams.
To those members of the club, who flew the kids, or helped around the club, you all deserve a special thanks. You sure touched the hearts of those children and I am sure they will remember that day forever.