A flight of 10 small general aviation aircraft touched down at the La Ronge Airport Tuesday to fundraise and create awareness for Hope Air.

Hope Air is a national organization that provides free travel assistance to Canadians in financial need who need help getting medical treatment away from home.

Hope Air has facilitated over 170,000 travel arrangements for individuals of all ages and medical needs since its beginning.

Doug McNair, Expedition Captain for Give Hope Wings, said that the program has been operating since 1986. “Hope Air has been around since 1986; it’s a non-profit organization. It raises funds to be used to help people get to medical appointments or get medical care,” he said. “If they are in a remote community or perhaps they may have to go see a specialist that’s far away from the community or even the province that they’re in, for a lot of people maybe that’s not an issue. But, for some people just the time it might take to travel, say by car, about 4-6 hours. Maybe you have to do follow-up appointments, maybe you’re going every couple weeks, it can be a real burden. And of course there’s the financial cost to. Most of the provincial programs will cover the medical procedure but not necessarily cover the cost of accommodation or travel.”

The sixth annual Give Hope Wings expedition follows three routes throughout the country: one in Western Canada, one in the Prairies, and one in Eastern Canada. For the prairie expedition, the group will visit 12 different communities throughout the prairie provinces.

The expedition’s ultimate goal for this year’s expedition is to raise $600,000. McNair said that the funding for the goal has come from many different sources.

“Between the three expeditions, the one in the east, the one in the west, and then the prairie one, the goal is to raise $600,000, and yes, I believe we are going to meet that commitment. Some of that comes from community fundraising, some of that from pilot fundraising, and then Hope Air has been quite successful in getting corporate sponsorships as well. So I believe we are going to exceed that target,” explained McNair.

The La Ronge stopover included a lunch hosted by Prairie Flying Services for the expedition’s participants and sponsors, a tour of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency water bomber base, and NorSask Aviation provided fuel for the planes.

The sixth annual Give Hope Wings expedition will conclude Friday.

(Photo by Roman Hayter.)