January 2, 2018 8:29 pm
Updated: January 2, 2018 9:06 pm

Pilots start 30,000-km journey for Hope Air from Kelowna

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A 30,000-kilometre journey starting at Kelowna’s airport was launched on Tuesday.

The crew, which is piloting two homebuilt aircraft, is hoping to raise more than $500,000 for Hope Air. The charity provides free medical flights for Canadians who need financial assistance.

“It’s an iconic Canadian charity that provides free flights for Canadians who live remotely but need to get to urban health care and they can’t afford to, so it’s really a lifesaver,” expedition leader Dave McElroy said.

The team had been planning the trip around the Americas for more than a year. For McElroy’s wife, the takeoff was bittersweet.

“Inside, I’m sort of nervous and you know, a bit of sobbing and already missing him,” Debbie Rona, McElroy’s wife, said. “And on the other hand, I’m thinking, what a great adventure these guys are going to go on.”

READ MORE: Hope Air gets big boost to help families in need of specialized healthcare

“It’s just fabulous to see this right in our backyard,” Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport’s director, said.

Three pilots are flying two planes to about 50 airports in 20 countries over the next two months.

Last year, Hope Air provided 11,500 flights across the country. More than 1,400 of these were from Kelowna.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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