”When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
I know it might sound a bit cliché, but I’ve been dreaming of growing wings since I was a little kid. As I grew up to reach my dream, I had one other certainty: Share my passion and love for aviation to others, and hope to ignite the fire in other young kids in my communities.
I had the immense pleasure to be able to participate in the local Young Eagles event which happened simulaneously everywhere around the globe on June 11th, 2011. Just in case you are curious…
Young Eagles: a program created by the US Experimental Aircraft Association designed to give children between the ages of 8 to 17 an opportunity to experience flight in a general aviation airplane while educating children about aviation. This program is offered free of charge with donations and volunteers. The program was launched in 1992 and, by fall of 2009, has flown more than 1.5 million children in 90 countries. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
The 2011 Young Eagles event in my community was very unique for many reasons. On top of being able to proudly introduce young kids to our beautiful PC12NG and its very special mission (Air Ambulance), I had the tremendous joy of meeting a few of our former patients. They were living proofs that miracles can happen, and walking testimonies of the priceless work men and women are doing, providing wings to the ones in need and litteraly standing as guardian angels around the communties of Ontario.
A bit of trivia: Did you know that Harrison Ford was chairman of the Young Eagles for a while, as well as the illustrious Chuck Yeager?
While introducing the kids to the wonderous world of aviation was a treat in itself, Ornge also has other missions at heart. In a spirit of Compassion and Innovation for the kids and Collaboration with the local institutions, J Smarts was created. An Injury prevention program targeted at kids, its main goal is to reduce the number of pedeatric patients transported by Ornge every year. I was very fortunate to introduce the young attendants at the Young Eagles to the very important concepts of safety in flying and sports through J Smarts material.
In the end, however, do you know what amazes me the most? It is that we ALL have a chance to make a difference for the children and young people around us – to give them the yearning, the longing for the clear blue skies… the dream to one day grown their own wings.
I would love to hear from you. Please share your favorite stories about introducing people to aviation, or even your own first flight experiences!