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Big Brothers Big Sisters Airlift

 Teaching our Littles they can fly

COPABig Brother Andrew, Little Brother Hunter and COPA Flight 28 Pilot Ron Chamberlain pose on September 15, 2012 during COPA's 31st annual Big Brothers and Big Sisters Airlift at Stoney Creek Airport.

For 31 years, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) has allowed our Bigs and Littles to reach for the sky – literally. On September 15, our Bigs and Littles took flight out of Stoney Creek Airport.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters Airlift is an annual event hosted by Flight 28, a Fleet within COPA, that offers complementary flights to Littles and Bigs. Since the event’s inception in 1981, about 3,000 Littles and their Bigs have experienced the world of aviation first-hand.

The collective 3,000 Big and Little flights have been carried out for our Agency alongside our Sister Agencies of Halton and Grimsby. This initiative is run by volunteer pilots from Flight 28 and their families, who cover the expenses of flight among food and day of activities.

About 100 rides along are donated by Flight 28 members each year to our Agency and Sister agencies. This year, 30 Bigs and Littles had the opportunity not only to fly along, but also to control and fly the volunteer pilot’s planes.

Jan Slavik, a member of Flight 28, has coordinated the event since 1997. In the eight years he has been directly involved with this annual initiative, Slavik says that the excitement and enthusiasm of the children who take flight is one of his favourite aspects of the partnership.

Alongside the reward of Bigs and Littles reactions, the sentiment for Slavik stems much deeper. “One of the goals is to expose kids to an experience that may not otherwise be easily available to them,” he says.

While flying is a hobby for most of COPA’s pilots, sharing the excitement with first-time flyers has proven to be an unforgettable experience for Slavik. 

During the plane rides, pilots instruct young passengers how to fly, allow them to try some controls and even steer. Slavik recalls one of his favourite memories, which involved an 11-year-old girl: “[She] was not tall enough to see forward over the instrument panel, but completely un-intimidated, she flew the airplane perfectly.” He adds, “She was a natural and enjoyed every minute of the flight.”

As an Agency, we believe that there is nothing more important that instilling confidence in youth that encourages them to feel ‘capable of flying.’ For 31 years, COPA Flight 28 has literally made this happen. The unforgettable experience that has been created for the multitude of Bigs and Littles throughout the years is invaluable.

Thank you for teaching our Littles how to fly, COPA! 


We currently are incurring a long waitlist, and are in need of volunteer mentors.

  • Are you 18 years of age or older?
  • Are you interested in positively benefitting the life of a child?
  • Do you have 2-3 hours a week to dedicate to a rewarding friendship?

Click here to apply to be a mentor today!