Members of the Vernon Flying Club. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Members of the Vernon Flying Club. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

WATCH: ‘Total freedom’: pilots fly in formation over Okanagan cities

Black Press Media got a first-hand look at what the Okanagan looks like, from above

Nothing will stop this group of North Okanagan pilots from flying.

Members of the Vernon Flying Club meet once a week to fly in formation over the city. Before the pandemic hit, the group would meet four times a week and fly to other flying clubs in neighbouring cities to have coffee with their fellow pilots from Kelowna, Penticton, Kamloops, and Salmon Arm.

But with gathering and travel restrictions, the group now meets once a week to practice and fly in formation over Vernon, landing back at the city’s regional airfield.

John Swallow is a member of the Vernon Flying Club and he also leads the flight formation. A former military pilot, Swallow typically flies over 150 hours for recreation in a year. Because of the pandemic, he only flew about 65 hours in 2020.

“(The pandemic) has really curtailed our flying. Originally, at the beginning of (2020) until March, we were going down to the various places. Now it’s primarily taking off here and landing here,” he said.

Member Chuck Ross said they wanted to keep doing what they love without putting themselves at risk.

“We don’t want to mix with a bunch of people at coffee, but we can (fly) together, we can have picnic lunches and still have separation,” he said.

“And we fly six feet apart.”

Swallow said the club also used to run an initiative where they would take children from the ages eight to 17 for a flight to encourage them to take up piloting.

“Donating our time and our aircraft has been curtailed and we didn’t get to share flying with the children last year, and we likely won’t this year either,” Swallow said.

Things may have changed and they may not be able to gather and fly wherever they please, but the club’s members still get out to tip their wings at the residents below to help brighten their days.

Besides showing people what they can do, the group continues to fly because it gives them a sense of freedom. Swallow said it’s difficult to describe unless you’ve taken flight and have seen the world from above.

Another member of the club, Franz Fox, said it’s exhilarating.

“To me, flying is total freedom,” he said.

“Once you’re up there flying, you can basically do whatever you want… it’s a totally different perspective and when you look down at what’s below, it’s just a wonderful feeling.”

READ: B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Airport

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

Just Posted

Alycia Weir (left) and Helena Oosthoek (right) of the Golden Family Center stand outside of the GFC building at their Bell Lets Talk stand last February. They are currently raising funds to help support their drop-in counselling program. (Claire Palmer photo)
Family center fundrasing for free counselling program

It’s important to have accesible care in the community

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Map showing geographic distribution of COVID cases in BC. (BC CDC photo)
1 new case of COVID-19 in Golden area to close out February

There were only two reported cases in the area for the month

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read