Kelowna pilot returns from 39,000-km trip he flew for a good cause

Kelowna pilot returns from a major flying expedition to raise awareness and money for a Canadian charity that provides free flights for people who need to travel long distance to access healthcare but can’t afford it

Dave McElroy has a passion for flying – and he recently channeled that passion into a trip around South America to raise funds for a charity that takes people to access health care far away, totally for free.

“It was quite a dramatic expedition,” McElroy said.

McElroy, along with two other Canadian, pilots recently returned from a 39,000-km trip around the Americas to raise awareness and money for Hope Air.

The charity provides free flights to Canadians who need to travel long distances to access healthcare.

“We took off from Kelowna, Jan. 2, we flew down the West Coast, San Diego, down through Mexico, through Central America, down the west side of South America,” he said.

“And flew back the east side, the Brazilian side, all the way up, across the Caribbean to Florida and back here.”

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Fundraising efforts started a year prior to the flying expedition with the mission raising more than half a million dollars.

“That will fund well over 2,000 flights for Canadians,” McElroy told Global News.

In 2017, Hope Air flew some 12,000 Canadians, about 1,500 of them from Kelowna International Airport.

McElroy flies a Van’s RV-6 aircraft, a home-built, high-performance plane.

He said his crew and their two planes garnered lots of attention in many of the 20 countries they visited

“They were actually enthusiastic because this has probably application far beyond Canada and as you can imagine South American countries, especially Chile and Brazil,which are so vast like Canada, have the same issues like we do with healthcare,” he said.

“Some of the pilots we met are flying in the jungle, in the Amazonian jungle, and they were fantastically interested in Hope Air.”

McElroy will be speaking about his entire trip at Okanagan College in Kelowna on May 16 at 7 p.m.

The public is welcome, as are any donations to Hope Air.

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