After the great success enjoyed by the Children’s Flight concept that Felix Gosher and Michael Ferguson derived, Ana Luis contacted Felix and pitched the idea of an Elders Flight for under privileged senior citizens that have never had the opportunity to experience the joys of flight. Felix and Ana immediately set to work to make this a reality.
Saturday 1st December was the date chosen to treat the Elders to something many of us take for granted, the honour of experiencing flight. The look of gratitude of the faces of these people is something that will be long remembered by all the pilots and sponsors that gave up of their Time, Aircraft and Resources voluntarily to make the day special for the elders many of which suffer neglect or a noteworthy solitary existence in a group home.
The morning started off with a briefing for all the pilots and crew followed by the arrival of all the Elders, for many of them it was their first visit to an airport in their lives. On arrival the honoured guests were treated to a scrumptious breakfast prepared by The Harvard Café.
As soon as breakfast was done the serious business of flying got underway, the elders were divided into groups and each group was assigned an aircraft that they would be flying in. Something that really stood out for everyone was that most of the aircraft that were volunteered were historic aircraft, making the day even more special.
In total one hundred and four Elders were flown on the day in sixteen aircraft ranging from a Dakota DC3, Beechcraft 18 to a de Havilland Tigermoth. Twenty Carers and the Pipe Band from Jeppe High School were also given the opportunity to fly in these amazing machines.
Retired Chief of the Airforce General Dennis Earp and his lovely wife Beth were honorary guests and were treated to a flight in the DC3 belonging to Menno Parsons.
Geraldine Calitz Flight Attaendant, Tony Smith Co-Pilot, Gen Denis Earp, Mrs Beth Earp, Derek Hopkins Captain and Francois Hanekom Air Boss
Menno was by far the most generous of the sponsors offering three of his prized aircraft on the day, The DC3, a Bell Huey and his beloved P51 Mustang in which he took Gen Earp for a special nostalgic flight. Gen Earp flew Mustangs in the Korean War and after being shot down spent twenty three months in a North Korean Prisoner of War Camp.
Menno Parsons and Gen Earp in Mustang Sally
When all the senior citizens were safely back on the ground they were treated to two aerobatic displays, The Flying Cows aerobatic team thrilled everyone with a display of tight formation aerobatics in their Pitts Specials. Nigel Hopkins then took to the air in his Extra 330Sc delivering a superb display of unlimited aerobatics. The cries of delight for the senior citizens was testament to the success of the event, they absolutely loved the displays.
Tailifts Flying Cows
All the participating pilots were given comerative wings for their efforts in making this a day to remember in the lives of these special people’s lives.
General Earp and Menno Parsons proudly displaying their comerative wings
A special thank you to Menno, for heavily investing in the project, to all the pilots, to Ana Luis who’s idea it was to develop the flying day for Children to Senior Citizens, and all the sponsorship she generated to do so, to all sponsors, Rand Airport Management and the Safety Teams, Lt Col Francois Hanekom - Air Boss, Nigel Musgrave -Safety Officer, Raymond Phaahla - Fire Chief, De Wet Jooste - ER24, Ricardo Alfonso - ATNS.
Thank you for this special gift in the spirt of Ubuntu
Father and Son, The Hopkins family always willing to lend a hand