My Son the Pilot

Please note: This post has tons of photographs and several videos. If you don't have time to peruse all the photos, be sure to at least scroll down towards the bottom and watch the videos of my son flying a Piper Cub airplane.

Saturday, Isaac - my 10 year old with autism - had the opportunity to learn how to fly a Piper Cub Airplane thanks to the Challenge Air program.

Here's a little tidbit of trivia for you - I actually grew up in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania where Mr. Piper designed and manufactured the first Piper Cub airplane. We had our own little Piper Cub airport and everything. I grew up seeing Piper Cub planes fly all over and never realized until much later in life what an incredible and historical opportunity that was for me. I also had no idea that my roots would come back and bless my very own son in such an incredible way.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day for flying. My hubby and my son traveled together to Kansas City, Missouri and arrived at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. (Did I mention I'm also extremely terrified of heights - so I opted to stay home and pray for their safety rather than melt to pieces watching my son take off into the sky!)

When Isaac arrived, he had to check in. First, he met with the fireman, then he was weighed and his information was documented. During check-in, Isaac a reporter from Wall Street Journal approached John & Isaac and asked if he could follow them around for the day and interview them for an article to appear this coming week (I can't believe my son is making the Wall Street Journal before his mom. Isn't he awesome?). During check-in, John also discovered I had requested Isaac to be a passenger rather than actually fly the plane. But that soon got changed and Isaac was listed as a co-pilot.

(Wall Street Journal reporter)

While Isaac waited for Ground School, he got to do some really awesome stuff. There were bounce houses galore for the kids, lots of awesome science experiments, and of course - food, food, food. One of Isaac's favorite parts was the hovercraft.

After enjoying all the fun stuff, Isaac was called in for Ground School where he learned the basics of airplane safety and the techniques of how to fly a Pipe Cub airplane.

Once Isaac graduated from Ground School, he got to learn about a lot of other really awesome stuff - like how to fly a helicopter! The helicopter pilot was awesome, taught Isaac all the buttons to push, how to hold the "steering wheel controller," and even let him try on his headset. Isaac had a great time exploring the helicopter.

Isaac also participated in some flying simulation games. The scary part was Isaac thought it was more fun to crash the planes, like on video games. Yeah. Totally good thing Dad was the one with him, rather than me!

After the flight simulation, Isaac was paired up with his safety guides - Tracie and Sam.

Then . . . the moment arrived. The very first meeting with his pilot!

Funny enough - Isaac kept looking around and saying, "Hey, where's my pilot? I'm supposed to meet him now." Then he figured out Gary was who he was looking for! Gotta love kids!

Gary & Isaac

Once they met and got to know each other, everyone headed outside to get in the plane. Can you tell Isaac was excited? To get into a Piper Cub, you have to climb up onto the wing and through the door. So, tell me - how many seats do you see in that plane? Me - I see three: two in the front and one in the back. That's one darn small plane! Whew!

And now, it's time for some more videos. The first one, is Isaac saying hello and getting the plane going. The second is Isaac going down the runway, and the third is him taking off into the sky. Watch closely, you'll see that the pilot removes his hands from the control wheel and let's Isaac do take off & fly the plane on his own. Very cool stuff!

At first, Isaac as nervous and didn't want to get too high. Once they were leveled out again, he enjoyed looking around and flying. They flew past some Kansas City landmarks, such as . . .

Worlds of Fun

The Royals Stadium and the Chief's Stadium

The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

The Liberty World War I Memorial

A picture of Isaac super happy and lovin' the flight.

Here's another video where they are getting close to the airport again. If you listen closely, you can hear Gary telling Isaac to look over at the Army helicopter that flew over to say hello to them!

And now, it's time for the landing!

After they landed, Gary showed Isaac how to use the floor pedals to steer the plane.

Isaac was so excited when he figured it out and was steering the plane on the ground all by himself!

Once everyone was back on the ground and out of the plane, Isaac met back up with Tracie and Sam, his safety team. Pilot Gary signed Isaac's Flight certificate and presented him with his own set of pilot wings.

Challenge Air was such an awesome experience for Isaac. He came home and told me all about it - in detail! Then he spent the day making airplanes from various items such as Legos, cardboard tubes, and more, then piloting them around the house and outside. It was such an incredible day! Thank you, Challenge Air!

If you would like to donate to the Challenge Air program, please click on this link. With the economy, they are in need of more donations to continue running the program all over the United States. Even just $5 or $10 helps. Thank you!!!

Would you like to comment?

Sheila Bennett said...

Wow - what an incredible opportunity! Looks as though Isaac really enjoyed himself. And all the pictures of his day are great. I really enjoyed the ariel shots of the KCMO landmarks.

themeese2 said...

OH WOW!!! That is simply incredible! (Although I think I would have had to stay home, too.) It warms my heart to see Isaac's smile so huge. It was obviuos that this was one of the funnest things he'd ever done. I miss you like crazy, Danyelle, honey, but there is no question that Kansas City is the place for your family.

Don said...

Way awesome! Programs like this are really great. I'm an aspiring pilot as well as an aspiring author, so I really enjoyed these pictures.

k m kelly said...

Fantastic opportunity. Thank you for sharing.

Kellie said...

That is so cool! What a great experience:)

Northern Nickle Clan said...

You grew up in Lock Haven??? WOW, REALLY!!! We visited there last year and my husband's brother and his wife and kids live there. I knew you grew up in Pennsylvania, but was so used to the fact that I don't know Pennsylvania worth a hoot that I didn't bother asking WHERE exactly you grew up. That's totally awesome!

Heather Justesen said...

What an awesome experience for Isaac! I'm sure he'll be talking about it for weeks. I can't blame you for letting John take him instead of going yourself. =)

Kami said...

That is so cool! He looked like he was on cloud 9.

Kimber said...

What an amazing opportunity for Isaac! I can't imagine how thrilled he was. What a wonderful day!

Amy said...

What an awesome experience for Issac. He looks like he had tons of fun.

beckymom said...

Danyelle, thanks for sharing Isaac's amazing flight. It was fun to hear his voice and hear his cute questions. Becky T