Tenn. Unit Assists with Flying Event for Special Needs Youth
2nd Lt. Diana Stevenson
Public Affairs Officer
Choo Choo Senior Squadron
Members of the Tennessee Wing’s Choo Choo Senior Squadron stepped up to support the second annual Challenge Air Fly Day at Wilson Air Center at Chattanooga Municipal Airport.
Challenge Air is a nationwide nonprofit that plans and facilitates Fly Day events to change the perception of children with special needs through flight. “The only person that is limited is one with a limited mind. Once that barrier is broken, one’s true potential can be reached,” Challenge Air founder Rick Amber has said.
In all, 51 children and their family members received a flight from local pilots who volunteered their planes and time.
Before flying, the participants attended “Ground School,” where they learned about basic aviation safety rules and general familiarization. Afterward, they met with their pilot and load team members, who assisted them down a red carpet while onlookers cheered. After their plane landed, they received their “wings” and a pilot certificate.
Along with flying, many other activities were available as well. The Choo Choo squadron conducted aviation education workshops, with the unit’s assistant aerospace education officer, 2nd Lt. Frank Fry, providing hands-on projects that helped the children understand basic principles of flying. The children were excited to learn and build the best plane.
The squadron’s Commander, Maj. Kelly Williamson, served as flight deck boss and provided logistical oversight for the entire day.
“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,” Williamson said.
He added, “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 is everlasting memories of a lifetime.
“The Choo Choo Senior Squadron is already preparing for the 2019 event with hopefully more families involved,” he said.