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  • Writer's pictureSebastien de Place

A day of magic

Sunday, 18 April 2021 was literally a day of magic. We Fly Africa and The Plane Project partnered to offer to twenty children of the SOS Children's Village the opportunity to experience the magic of a flight at Panorama Airport, Johannesburg.

8:30 AM. The day started early on a sunny morning for the pilots and the volunteers who gather before the children’s arrival for a briefing meeting with Kelly and Sebastien. Six pilots (Lukie, Sebastien, Nicole, Shean, and 2 young pilots) have volunteered to fly 1 or 2 children at the time, according to the size of their plane (most of them 4 seater). Other volunteers have been assigned to take care of the children while others are flying and ensure everyone is having fun. The children left Mamelodi early in the morning for a drive through the South of Johannesburg, to Panorama Airfield. They were travelling in a bus with three of their teachers to arrive on site just around 9:00.

9:11 AM. Arrival of the children on site. Kelly, founder of The Plane Project, invited everyone around the main area for a welcome speech. The children seem both excited and scared of what they will find in the sky. It’s a chance given to them to experience the beauty of a flight for the first time. None of them has got the opportunity to see a plane from so close and even less to be seated next to a pilot. But I can guarantee you that in a couple of seconds the fear gives way to big smiles as soon as the first group of children is flying away. Because the pilots have volunteered their time, we have a tight schedule to make sure that everyone has a ride.

11:25 AM. Flights follow one another and all the children have the chance to go for a plane check-up with the pilot before their 20 min discovery flight. Five aircraft were rotating, three could accommodate two children at a time and the two others aircraft could only take one child at a time. Some children younger than others would prefer to be with a friend, the bravest are willing to go alone. While half of the group is in the air, the other group of kids is dreaming of going back in the sky. Most of them who have already flown are asking to go back. Around midday, all the kids have passed their initiation flights, so everyone received a certificate of participation to validate their time in the air. Even the teachers got a chance to fly too and enjoy the beauty of Johannesburg from another perspective. Indeed the purpose of the day for We Fly Africa and The Plane Project was to spread joy and hope by changing the way the children see the world.

12:48 PM. Once everyone had completed their initiation flight and took pictures by the planes, the whole team could now gather for lunch all together. Earlier in the morning, each participant was given vouchers for food and cold drinks. So as a reward for everyone’s participation, children, teachers, pilots and volunteers shared a lunch together prepared by the Panorama Airfield restaurant before ending the day.

It was a fantastic and memorable day for the kids and everyone who volunteers. It was an accomplished mission for The Plane Project and We Fly Africa to picture so many smiles.

A massive thank you to our donors, volunteers and all the pilots for inspiring each child and spreading so much joy. Also to Sean Holmes, Aunty Helga and the wonderful community of aviators at Panorama Airfield that made it possible.

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