Give Hope Wings over the mountains of British Columbia Submitted photo

Hope to take flight in January

Two former Nelson residents set to take off on odyssey for charity.

  • Dec. 13, 2017 11:00 a.m.

In January, two former Nelson residents will take off from Kelowna Airport on a 32,000-km odyssey that will circumnavigate Central and South America. They’ll be flying in a high performance homebuilt aircraft, raising money for Hope Air, a Canadian charity that provides more than 1,000 free medical flights per month to healthcare far from home for financially-disadvantaged Canadians.

Dave McElroy, who left Nelson 50 years ago, is commander of the two-ship formation. His father Art was proprietor of McElroy Motors, which operated in the current Nelson Chrysler premises on Baker Street.

The other adventurer, Bob Vance, now of Victoria, departed Nelson a few years earlier. He’s the son of Vern Vance, the General Manager of Kootenay Forest Products during the 1950s and 1960s.

They will be joined by two other aviators, Russ Airey and Harold Fast, for the 60-day expedition. They’ve dubbed the flight Give Hope Wings.

“Being aviators, we had a natural affinity for Hope Air’s mission,” says McElroy.”

He says Hope Air has provided more than 11,500 flights for Canadians in the past year and demand is growing by 15 per cent each year.

“Hope Air is the most effective and cost-efficient charity we’d ever seen,” McElroy said. “Only 12 cents of every dollar raised goes to administration. And they do all this with only nine full time employees, plus dozens of volunteers.”

He said he hopes the flight will raise both money and awareness for Hope Air, and provide a stimulating flying experience.

So the pair divided the 20,000 mile itinerary into eight segments and advertised for philanthropists to occupy the right seat of McElroy’s aircraft for each segment.

Vance was the first to sign up.

“He quickly committed a large donation to join the crew, and wholeheartedly plunged into the fundraising mission. He’s raised tens of thousands of dollars in addition to his own, and he’s truly our fourth crew member in every sense of the term.”

Vance, at age 81, says he’s had an adventurous life, and this trip will be his chance to “give back.”

So far the crew has raised just over $400,000 in total donations.

“We need to push that well above our $500,000 target in order to fund more than 2,000 medical flights,” said McElroy.

“That’s our commitment and we are determined to exceed it.”

Donations and comments can be made at www.givehopewings.ca. There are just two volunteer flight crew segments still available. Anyone interested in joining can contact dave@givehopewings.ca. The flight’s track will be broadcast live on Hope Air’s website during January and February.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

Check this page for every local story related to the outbreak

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read