The Bakersfield Flying Club, a small association of central California pilots based at Meadows Field, has donated more than $6,000 to Honor Flight Kern County.
The money was raised through a club-sponsored raffle, and will be used to send World War II veterans to the memorial in Washington, D.C.
The fundraising project started when the flying club’s board of directors decided to do something to give back to the community. Several possible projects were considered, but the board settled on Honor Flight due to the urgency of the need and the logical tie-in with aviation, officials said.
“We were totally surprised when the flying club called and said they wanted to help,” said Lili Marsh, chairperson for Honor Flight in the Bakersfield area.
Honor Flight is a national organization with local chapters that raise money and sponsor trips for veterans.
“The club’s donation is one of the largest single contributions we’ve ever had,” said Marsh. “We thank you.”
The donation was delivered during a meeting of Honor Flight Kern County at the VFW Hall in downtown Bakersfield.
“It was a real pleasure to go to that meeting and see the faces of some of the heroes who saved the world 70 years ago,” said Bill Woodbury, president of the Bakersfield Flying Club. “The vets were grateful for the donation, but it was really us who were grateful to them for all they did and the sacrifices they made.”
Club member Jon Slikker led the fundraising effort, organizing the drive and conducting the raffle. While the flying club spearheaded the effort, much of the cash that was raised came from the general public, not just the pilots.
“It was amazing to see how easy it was to raise money,” said Slikker. “All I had to do was mention Honor Flight and people were eager to give.”
Donations came from all over Kern County, Porterville, even as far away as Northern California, officials said.
“All it took was a posting on our Facebook page and making a few phone calls,” he said. “It was really great to see so many people wanting to help.”
The flying club is active in the Bakersfield community, providing both primary and advanced pilot training, sponsoring FAA-sanctioned seminars and roundtables, as well as providing school group tours of their facilities and speaking to civic groups about general aviation. Information about the club is available at BakersfieldFlyingClub.com.