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

VicPD seeks person of interest after short-term rental ransacked

Combined losses for damage and theft are over $5,000

Whitecaps favourite switches to the Island

Marcel de Jong worked to end Whitecaps contract, joining Pacific FC on the ground floor

RCMP ask for public’s help to determine cause of weekend fire

RCMP are investigating the cause of the South Island Concrete fire

UVic’s cutting-edge centre leading the way in drones and AI

Centre For Aerospace Research works with partners including Department of National Defence

Langford barber shop donates cuts for veterans’ cause

Hair cuts raise funds for Wounded Warrior Run, which travels from Port Hardy to Victoria

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read