By SIKHO NTSHOBANE
MANY of them had never set foot inside a plane, but a group of children from an East London-based foster home can now boast of having actually flown, thanks to the Border Aviation Club.
On Saturday about 20 youngsters from the Greensleeves Home, a foster home that also doubles as a place of safety on the outskirts of the city, beamed with excitement as they became airborne for the first time in their young lives.
The occasion formed part of a flying day event organised by the aviation club after it was approached by the chairwoman of the home’s board of directors, Professor Lana Weldon.
Club member Patrick Hill told the Daily Dispatch they could not pass on an opportunity to help the little ones.
“Most of them had never been in a plane before. [So] it was a big thing for them,” he said.
“It was heartwarming to see those smiles on their faces.”
The club was able to scramble several airplanes for the event.
On the ground, safety and other routines were properly explained to the children by the pilots who would take them up into the clouds.
Hill said that at the end of it all, the children could not stop raving about the experience.
“They were talking about animals they saw on the ground while flying around and also the old diamond mine the planes flew over.
“All the time during the flights, you could see their faces lit up with bright smiles,” he added.
Weldon said they had decided to rope in the aviation club after they had organised a fly-around for two young Scottish volunteers working at the home as part of their university studies.
Weldon said the youngest child was about four while the eldest was probably about 16.
Apart from the flights, the “stars of the show” were also treated to a nice braai.
Hill said they also ran the Young Eagles Programme, in which young children, both from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds, were taken up in the air and shown what went into flying.
“The industry is always looking for [future] pilots, so we are happy to help in whatever way we can,” Hill said.