Frequent flyer Bob Vance, 81, of Cordova Bay, is readying to fly more than a week on the first leg of a 60-day trip around South America. Submitted

Octogenerian to start New Year on flight adventure in Central America

Cordova Bay’s Bob Vance helped raise $425,000 for Hope Air

Retiree Bob Vance is leaving Cordova Bay to start 2018 on an epic adventure in the sky.

Come January the 81-year-old frequent flyer is heading off on the first leg of a 60-day tour around South America, and he’s doing it as a passenger in a two-seater airplane that would fit in most garages.

“The planes are very small which makes it an interesting flight,” Vance said. “There’s no washroom, there’s barely room for your suitcase, and the flights are only about two to four hours, usually once a day, sometimes two in a day.”

Vance’s longtime friend Dave McElroy will pilot the plane for all 60 days in an Oregon-built Van’s RV series aircraft. It’s nothing new for McElroy, who is finishing a book about another adventure he took, when he flew a small Piper Comanche around the world in 80 days in 2014.

McElroy will be joined in the sky by another pair plane, that one flown by Russ Airey of Ontario. They’ll cover 32,000 kilometres landing at about 50 airports in 20 different countries.

What’s unique about the trip is how Vance, McElroy and a couple more pals have spun this retiree adventure into a $425,000 fundraiser they call Give Hope Wings. Their initiative donates the money to Hope Air, the charity which arranges flights for low-income Canadians in rural northern areas, and flies them into urban areas to get the type of medical attention they need.

Initially, Vance had committed to flying the entire journey with McElroy but Vance suffered a health setback. Instead, the group broke McElroy’s trip into eight legs of about one week each (some a bit longer), with Vance flying on the first leg.

“We figured we could do this and raise money,” Vance said. “For the recommended donation [of $30,000] you can fly one of the legs.”

Sooke resident Reg Willick is among the other passengers who will join McElroy via a commercial airline at a rendezvous point.

For Vance the adventure starts in San Diego where he’ll rendezvous with McElroy and with Airey. They’ll spend between seven to 10 days flying to Panama. The planes will circumnavigate Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea. They’ll make North American landfall in Florida on the way back.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

Pedestrian struck on Quadra Street

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Quadra Street at Hulford… Continue reading

Victoria airport workers rally on Tuesday

Food service workers call for improved working conditions

Police respond after dog left in vehicle at the movies

West Shore RCMP determined the animal was not in distress

Saanich grants public hearing to senior housing proposal

Five-storey rental apartment would add 39 units near Cuthbert Holmes Park

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Most Read