Photo gallery: Local kids with special needs fly high at Challenge Air Fly Day

Challenge Air Fly Day event 4.jpg
Image via Civil Air Patrol

The Chattanooga Choo Choo Senior Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol held the Second Annual Challenge Air Fly Day at Wilson Air Center on April 28th.

Challenge Air, a nationwide non-profit organization, plans and facilitates Fly Day Events to change the perception of children with special needs through the gift of flight.

The founder of Challenge Air, Rick Amber, once said “the only person that is limited is one with a limited mind. Once that barrier is broken, one’s true potential can be reached”.

Organizers say this year’s event was much larger than last year's, as 51 children and their family members flew with a local pilot who had volunteered their plane, and time. Before a flight, the child and their family attend “Ground School”, where they learn about basic aviation safety rules and general familiarization. Afterwards, they meet with their pilot and load team members, who help them down a red carpet, while being cheered on from everyone. After the flight, they receive their “wings” and a Pilot certificate.

The Chattanooga Choo Choo Senior Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol also conducted aviation education workshops. CAP volunteer 2nd Lt. Frank Fry provided hands-on projects that helped the children understand the basic principles of flying. Organizers say the children were excited to learn and build the best plane.

Chattanooga Choo Choo Commander Maj. Kelly Williamson was the Flight Deck Boss, and provided the logistic oversight for the entire day.

Williamson said, “It is a privilege to volunteer a second year with Challenge Air and be a part of their program for special kids in our community to experience the excitement and joy of flying.” He also commended his squadron by adding that, “I am proud of the Civil Air Patrol Senior Squadron in Chattanooga that again took an enthusiastic leadership role to make this Fly Day Event successful for 51 families. Our Squadron received much more in return from these kids and families than they gave for the day, which are everlasting memories of a lifetime. The Choo Choo Senior Squadron is already preparing for the 2019 event with hopefully more families involved.”