Santa and his band of merry helpers from five service clubs toiled away in the midday sun at the George airport on Saturday 3 December, organising the Santa Flights project for 95 excited youngsters. The nervous laughter in anticipation of their first flight in a small four-seater light plane, soon changed into delight when they touched down after a 15 minute flight over George.
The Santa Flights project is the brainchild of Rotarian Rick Clutten, who was involved in a similar project in Manchester in the UK. “Bringing the idea to George six years ago was very challenging, as in Manchester we used one aircraft for all the children. It would be impractical and very expensive to hire a large jet to come to George and that is why we are thankful to the Flight Training College at the George Airport who supplied the three light aircraft that have made the dream a reality. “We want to create lifelong memories so that children who experience this party are able to carry the joy and uniqueness of the experience for the rest of their lives,” said Clutton. This year the children who benefited are from the ACVV Môreson Kinderhuis in Denneoord, Ruiterbos Primary in Mossel Bay, Herbertsdale Primary between Mossel Bay and Riversdale, the Seven Passes Initiative, Young Ambassadors Primary School and George South Primary. Kayla van der Merwe, a Grade 7 learner from George South Primary, was all smiles once she was back on terra firma. “It was a fantastic experience for all of us, something we will remember for a long time. Our big city of George actually looked quite small from up in the air,” said Van der Merwe.
The service clubs involved in the project are the Eden Lions Club, George Round Table, George Rotary Club, Vryburgers and the Moths. The staff and students of the Flight Training College and Eden 911.