Special needs children and their families had the ride of their lives at Tyler’s Historical Aviation Memorial Museum on Saturday.
“You just flew an airplane, if you can fly an airplane what else can you do?” says Challenge Air CEO April Culver.
That’s the motto of Challenge Air, a company that hosts Fly Days around the country.
“We get general aviation pilots to donate their aircraft to help fly kids with special needs between the ages of 7 and 21, and the kids actually get to co-pilot the plane,” says Culver.
60 children took flight on Saturday at HAMM at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
“What we want is to inspire challenged or special needs children to do more than they make think that they can do,” says Challenge Air Board of Trustees member Sonny Friedman.
They were able to co-pilot plane rides as well as ride with their parents on a DC3 vintage aircraft.
“These families have different lives than you and I experience, and so we want to give them a break for all of them,” says Friedman.
Colton Burgette suffered injuries at birth that left him with traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy. Doctors told his mother he would live to be 3 years old, yet he is 17 now. His mother says she is thankful for events like these.
“I would say probably because we do things like this that it gives him the will to live and survive and have fun,” says Colton’s mother Kim Burgette.
The fun was evident by the smiles on the faces of each child leaving the plane and getting pinned with a set of wings.
“We want you to try from the experience that you’ve had, the accomplishment that you just had, to try to do other things in life that you may not think you could do, but you flew an airplane, so maybe you can.