52 children see a whole new world as they soar over Pampanga

Joann Manabat

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52 children see a whole new world as they soar over Pampanga

QUICKSILVER. Ultralights line up as pilots prepare to take children of the Duyan ni Maria Children’s Home for a 15-minute flight on January 14.

Joann Manabat

The Angeles City Flying Club gives disadvantaged children from different organizations a chance to soar the skies, an experience that can inspire career paths

PAMPANGA, Philippines – A different perspective can change a child’s view of the world. This was the experience of 52 children who got a chance to fly and see the beauty of Pampanga from above via Ultralight and Cessna aircrafts on Saturday, January 14.

The Angeles City Flying Club (ACFC) chose the children of Duyan ni Maria (Cradle of Mary) Children’s Home as beneficiaries for the return of its outreach program that took a break in 2018.

At the Woodland Airpark in Magalang town, the children became little pilots for a day and learned various aspects of aviation.

Ten-year-old Brielle was a bundle of nerves at the start of her flight. She was euphoric after the experience.

 “Sa una nakakakaba pero okay na po nung tumagal na. Ganun po pala kapag nasa taas. Nakita ko yung bundok, mga bahay sa baba,” Brielle said, vibrating with glee.

(I was scared at the start but okay as it went on. So that’s what it looks like up there. I saw the mountain, the houses below.)

SHE APPROVES! Brielle gives a thumbs up after a smooth landing via an Ultralight aircraft at the Angeles City Flying Club airfield in Magalang, Pampanga . Micah Reysi-Cruz

Jericho, 13, begged to repeat the experience upon landing.

“Ang saya! Gusto ko pa umulit kasi maikli lang eh kaya uulit po ako. Iba po kapag nakalipad na. Natutuwa lang po talaga ako. Sana matagal (ito),” he said.

(It was fun! I want to repeat this because it was so short. It’s so different once you’ve flown. I’m so happy. I hope this lasts.)

READY FOR TAKE-OFF. Thirteen-year-old Jericho gives flashes peace signs before flying via Cessna with Angeles City Flying Club president Tonet Rivera as pilot. Micah Reysio-Cruz

Like Jerico, most of the children flew more than once. Some felt like their wildest dreams had come true.

Others, like Brielle, said the experience changed the way they see the world, giving them an appreciation of perspective.

Chasing after candies dropped from planes onto green fields was another special treat.

Social outreach

The ACFC, a private, members-only aviation club, has been flying with disadvantaged children from different organizations since 2010.

ACFC president Tonet Rivera and general manager Will Staughton said the program aims to encourage and build interest in young children as well as raise aviation awareness. 

“This event is part of our outreach program. It is our first time to have these kids come here who are orphans. We want to give them something they would never have and encourage them in aviation. Because you know, we’ll never know,” said Rivera.

Angeles City Flying Club, as a private organization, is committed to encouraging people to be sports pilots in the Philippines. About two or three times a year, we do days where we try to introduce young people to aviation,” Staughton added.

CANDY DROP. Kids gather as a pilot drop candies for the children to culminate the January 14 Angeles City Flying Club outreach program that gave free aircraft rides to more than 50 orphans in Pampanga. Joann Manabat

Woodland Hotel owner Gordon Boyce started the ACFC in 1993 when he bought an aircraft to provide guests with an addiitional perk. The club now has 155 members.

Former photojournalist and advertising photographer John Chua, who passed away in 2018, suggested sharing the aviation experience with disadvantaged children through an outreach program.

“We want to reach out to young kids, disadvantaged kids especially. We used to hold events like this to those with autism, ADHD, hearing impaired children who belong to different organizations also,” said Rivera. “Because they loved the experience, they still talk about it. Some of them are into photography, they are now photography enthusiasts.”

Rivera said the children received a pre-flight briefing.

Their safety, he said, is as important as the experience, allowing them to learn more about flying while appreciating the beauty of nature. –

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