13 February 2014

Reach for a Dream 2014

Reach for a Dream

The morning dawned grey and overcast, the clouds threatening us with rain. Pilots and ground crew filled the Clubhouse, mugs of coffee in hand, the smell perking up even the sleepiest of us. Alison stands up front, trying to get everyone to quiet down and pay attention.

First, a Welcome and Thank You to those who have volunteered their aircraft, fuel and time for the Reach for a Dream day. Reach for a Dream is an organisation that gives children with life-threatening illnesses the chance to fulfil their dreams. From meeting celebrities, to swimming with dolphins, to taking to the skies in a light aircraft.

This is where the Stellenbosch Flying Club comes in. Every year, the Flying Club hosts a day to take these children for a short flight. In 2013, weather put a damper on the event, and eventually it was decided to postpone until 2014.

The weather almost destroyed our plans once again, but after the Safety Briefing, presented by Chief Flying Instructor, Peter Du Preez, the cloud base lifted enough to allow us to fly the children to Klapmuts Koppie (a ‘koppie’ just north west of the Simonsberg Mountain) and back.

Aircraft were readied, and lined up on the taxi-way, pilots eagerly awaiting their precious cargo.
Six-seater twin engine aircraft (one Beechcraft Baron and two Piper Seneca’s) were used to fly those in wheelchairs. Other aircraft included;  a Piper Cherokee, a Piper Dakota, two Cessna 152’s, one Cessna Cardinal, one RV-8, and one Pipistrel Motorglider.

93 children were flown, as well as 5 of the Reach for a Dream Caregivers.
It’s always amazing to interact with these children, whose ages range from about 3 years old, to late teens. They’re well-behaved, and eager to climb into an aircraft and get into the air. Some take photos, or look out the window in awe. Others look at the aircraft controls and instruments, and try to handle the controls. Some even take a nap. And my favourite is when they sing; it’s relaxing and humbling to see this child sitting next to you, content in their own little world, even though they have probably faced more challenges than your average adult.

Despite the rather dreary weather, and increasing wind-strength throughout the morning (which gave all the pilots a chance to practice their x-wind landing technique), the day was a huge success. When the children weren’t in the aircraft, they could be found puttering around the access road in a 1934 Austin 10 Tourer, or watching a magician perform in the hangar.

Special thanks go to:
Alison, who organised this event, as well as the Reach for a Dream Foundation, for taking the initiative in the first place.
The helpers on the ground, and in the air:
-          Annie
-          Sue
-          Zelen-Erin
-          Tertius
-          Peter DP(Safety Officer)
-          Kay
-          Jean
-          Debbie
-          Ronnie
-          Johnny
-          Donald
-          Cedric
-          Peter E
-          Jacques N
-          Ron (owner of the Austin)
-          Those who helped from the Clubhouse side; Geoff and Estelle, and the barmen and kitchen staff

The pilots:
-          Mike (Cardinal)
-          Nicholas (Cherokee)
-          Jacques D (Cherokee)
-          Mark (Dakota)
-          Deon (Cessna 152)
-          Heather (Cessna 152)
-          Martin (Pipistrel)
-          Allan (RV-8)
-          Nicholas (Baron)
-          Kevin (Seneca)
-          Eugene (Seneca)

-          KFC (lunch for the children)
-          Pick ‘n Pay (donuts and Oros for the children)
-          Stellenbosch Flying Club (lunch and cold drinks for the helpers and pilots)

If there is anyone I have left out, I humbly apologise.

Here’s to next year’s event. May we have blue skies and calm winds, and be lucky enough to once again see the smiles on these children’s faces after a flight.

Some say the sky is the limit. But to us, it’s Home.