February 7, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The Bakersfield Flying Club, based at Meadows Field in California, has donated more than $6,000 to Honor Flight Kern County. The money was raised through a club-sponsored raffle, and will be used to send World War II veterans to the memorial in Washington, D.C.
It was the first fundraiser for the 90-member club, which was founded in 2011. The money was raised by raffling prizes including an iPad, a ForeFlight subscription, a Garmin Navigation Watch, a flight bag, instructor time, wine, and other small prizes, said said Bill Woodbury, president of the Bakersfield Flying Club.
The fundraising project started when the flying club's board decided to do something to give back to the community, said Woodbury. Several possible projects were considered, but the board settled on Honor Flight due to the urgency of the need and the logical tie with aviation.
Club member Jon Slikker led the fundraising effort; much of the cash raised came from the public, not just pilots. “It was amazing to see how easy it was to raise money,” he said. “All I had to do was mention Honor Flight and people were eager to give.” Donations came from all over Kern County, Porterville, even as far away as Northern California. “All it took was a posting on our Facebook page and making a few phone calls. It was really great to see so many people wanting to help.”
The veterans are aging quickly, said Woodbury. “World War II vets saved the world, literally, from fascism and imperial Japan. A trip to their monument is the least that should be done for them,” he said. The funds will cover five vets, he said.
The flying club is active in the Bakersfield community, providing both primary and advanced pilot training, sponsoring FAA-sanctioned seminars and roundtables, as well as providing school group tours of their facilities and speaking to civic groups about general aviation.
Female pilots and enthusiasts who belong to California's Palo Alto West Valley Flying Club formed the Women of West Valley for camaraderie and to encourage more to fly.
AOPA sees the formation and promotion of flying clubs as a key initiative to bring more people into the flying community.
More than 200 attendees packed AOPA's Big Yellow Tent on April 2 to feast on free pancakes at the association's first breakfast at Sun 'n Fun, which featured a Q-and-A session with AOPA President Mark Baker.
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