Trust adds some light to lives
Child Flight is delighted to receive a donation and support from CTC in Hamilton. From left: CF trustee Murray Barker, CTC CEO Rob Clarke, CF CEO Chris Jordan and CTC COO Peter Stockwell.
Recently I became aware of an aviation-based organisation that is making a big difference to a small group of important people. Child Flight Charitable Trust helps disabled and sick children to experience flight and see the world from the third dimension that we aviators enjoy so much.
Chris Jordan, founder and CEO of the Trust, is passionate about helping these children to enrich their lives. As a Hamilton local, he has been operating the Trust in the Waikato since the beginning of 2012, and last March they took to the air with the 100th child passenger.
Chris holds a PPL and is a shareholder in Piper Arrow ZK-DQV. This is perhaps the mother ship of the organisation and, with the help of Murray Barker and Aaron Martin, many children have enjoyed flights in it. The Trust relies on volunteer pilots to donate their time and aircraft for the cause and is steadily building a small air force to help. Colin Wade and his Cirrus ZK-CJW have also been involved since the early days.
The idea for the Trust began after Chris lost his sister Carolyn to breast cancer. Two of her children have special needs, which explains why Chris has such empathy for the families he works with.
The first child to have a flight was an eight-year-old girl with leukaemia, and Chris was heartened by the tremendous reaction from her family. This was the catalyst to begin.
While Chris could manage the aviation and business side of things, he recognised that expert assistance was needed for the children. Patricia Avenue Special Needs School has been a partner from the beginning and many of its families have enjoyed flights. The guidance given by Jennifer Roberts and Christina Bartlett from the school has been invaluable to the Trust as it has evolved.
The Trust operates on donated money, services and volunteers. As the organisation grows, it is slowly filtering into other areas of the country with small groups of pilots forming in such places as Whakatane, Tauranga, recently Whangarei Aero Club and, soon, Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club in Hastings.
However, Chris is actively seeking keen, experienced pilots based in other areas who operate four-seat aircraft. Each flight takes one or two children and a parent/caregiver as an observer and minder.
Chris has been heartened by the support of many local businesses and individuals. There has been a great response to Z Energy’s Good in the Hood campaign, and Z has donated 900lt of avgas for flights. Other corporate sponsors include ANZ, Monarch Harcourts and Go Bus.
The most recent development has been generous support from CTC at Hamilton. Chris and his team were recently presented with a large donation and a commitment for flights and time in the flight simulators for the children. The first visit to CTC last month saw children take to the air and the flight simulators were a huge hit with everyone, including those in wheelchairs.
As the Child Flight Charitable Trust spreads its wings throughout the country, the target for the next 12 months is an additional 100 flights. To date the organisation has flown 61 flights with 126 children on board, described by Chris as a great achievement from a small group of enthusiastic people.
Chris Jordan welcomes contact from anyone who can help grow the Trust and its operation. He can be contacted through its website www.childflight.co.nz
-Report by Neroli Henwood, photography by Karen Nicholson.
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