Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pilot for a day!

The Pilots-for-a-day and the 2 real pilots

I just cannot put in to words what kind of day it was yesterday. I was just amazed what time, effort and money that was spent on these 8 boys. We started at 7:45 and had breakfast in the place where all the pilots "hang-out" and met with 3 pilots. The boys then went in and put on their flight suits (that they got to keep) with the exact same kind of badges that the pilots have and a helmet bag that the pilots carry their own helmets in. They were given a pilot's coin, that represents the squadron they are on. Seems like they cannot be caught without this coin and have regular "coin-checks" where they are rewarded with a drink of their choice.
On to the equipment room where we were shown what the gear looked like and how it is worn. Very interesting! We then loaded on a bus where we were taken to a building where the boys were able to go in and actually fly in an F-16 flight simulator! They were able to stay on it for about 20 minutes or so. Marcus bombed a few ships, took a dive into the water, but somehow came out ok.
We then loaded on the bus again and went to the hangers where they service the F-16's. There they were able to walk around the plane, touch it and then actually able to sit, yes SIT in the cockpit and have their picture taken professionally. I have never seen so many smiles on kids faces before, especially Marcus.

Sitting in an F-16 cockpit! A dream come true.

The words say it all! "lets roll"

After "hangin' out" (hahaha) with the planes, we went back to the squadron's hang out and had some lunch. It was so nice to meet other people who have gone through similar circumstances. There were 2 other teens there with Marcus, one of which has a brain tumor as well. It was nice because Marcus was able to talk to someone who has similar interests, and been through so much stuff like him. They changed emails, so hopefully they can keep in touch.

After lunch we went out to the airfield where we were able to sit on bleachers and watch an air-show of an F-16. It really is amazing the things those pilots can do and handle physically. The pilot and aircrew of the show came over and talked to the boys and signed some pictures for them as well. They took pictures with them and were able to ask all kinds of questions. The press was there and the boys and parents interviewed with them.

This is how close we were to the plane taxiing!

We then went back to the Squadron where the boys were given a framed picture of the F-16 with signatures of the entire squadron on it and a hand-carved model of an F-16. When they were called up, they received their new "call sign" names. The pilots don't get their names until they earn their wings, so the trainers give them their names according to their personalities, last names, or something they did during training. A few kids names were: "Sun" Tanner (last name) "Side" Burns (last name). When they called Marcus up, he said.." we had the name "Rush" picked out for this pilot, but after seeing him with the press, we decided to call him Marcus "Hollywood" Russell. Wonder where he gets that from? It must run through the name!
He then was pinned with his wings and was given a plaque with a certificate printed on a full-size picture of him in the F-16! WOW... is all I can say!

"Hollywood" getting his wings.

It touches my heart that these brave men and women who risk their lives everyday for us, would do so much for my son and these other children. There really are some good people in the world. Thanks to Make-a-wish and other people who donate their time, these children will have some GREAT memories that will hopefully erase some of the bad ones they have.


The Mom said...

This is so cool Karen. It was awesome to talk to him on tuesday night. I could feel his excitement right through the phone. Such an amazing experience!!! Thanks for sharing!!! Tauna

Anonymous said...

This is Great! I thrills me to see these photos, makes him seem so grown up. This was such a awesome experience for him! So greatful that you called "Make a Wish" I put photos on my puter so I can enjoy them every day. Love, MOM

Nancy said...

I'm so glad that Marcus got to experience being a pilot for a day. He stands so tall and proud. I bet it was a really emotional day for you too. It is amazing what some people/organizations do for our kids.... but it's also so emotional as you realize why YOUR child gets to participate in these events. Lots of emotions going on.

I'm very proud of you. Hang in there, sis.

Love ya!

alligood said...

I am all teary! What an amazing experience - I, too, am amazed at the love and support perfect strangers show our children. YEA for make-a-wish! Matt will be meeting with his wish-granters soon. It is something very special to look forward to among all the bad things we dread. I love the phrase MAW uses - these wishes are LIFE AFFIRMING wishes. This speaks to my heart because I feel strongly that our children should be allowed to live as normally as possible. I want them to have these amazing experiences.