Flight1 – 30 Days of Thanksgiving

At F.C. Tucker we talk a lot about “paying our civic rent,” so for the month of November, we would like to express our gratitude to the many organizations and individuals who serve their communities tirelessly and make Indiana a better place to live and work. We obviously can’t highlight everyone, but we would like to salute these 30 organizations that are making a difference.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 30: Flight1

In Indiana, 100,000 families are affected by serious health challenges. Flight1 is an organization that helps rebuild confidence to children affected by these challenges.

The idea for Flight1 came in 2010 after Indiana pilot Marcus Strawhorn was diagnosed with Carcinoid Syndrome cancer, which was said to have a prognosis of 2-10 years. He first thought about his sons and the life he had left with them. He also thought back to when he became a pilot and the confidence it gave him.

“I wanted to instill in my boys the self-confidence that they would need after I might be gone. I knew that the joy of flight could instill in them the same self-confidence I gained as a child. I wanted my boys to have the opportunity to literally, and figuratively, take over the controls and fly”, said Strawhorn.

After several hospital visits, it was determined that the cancer diagnosis was incorrect and that the it was not terminal or serious. However, the thoughts remained with him to consider those who were not as fortunate. “Whether it is a parent or a child affected by illness, I recognized how the joy of flight could bring joy and confidence to those who need it most.” Strawhorn said.

Flight1 has a mission to provide confidence-building experiences for children ages 5 to 18 whose families struggle with serious health challenges or losing an immediate family member to illness. Flight1 defines “immediate family member” as a parent or sibling (including step-parents and step- and half-siblings) and a “serious health challenge” as any physical impairment that significantly reduces the quality of life or in all likelihood shortens the expectancy of life.

According to their website, there is no charge for participating families and no restrictions based on social background, employment or income. Acceptance into the program is based on an honor system and a doctor’s approval if applicable.

The children take the journey as a “Courageous Flier”. The first step is in an advanced full-motion flight simulator. The Courageous Flier has the opportunity to learn about working with an instructor, get the feel of the controls, and they earn a set of wings! Next, they go on a flight in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The Courageous Flier will meet the pilot and helps with certain preparations.

The child is in control of the flight under the guidance of a Certified Flight Instructor, which is the foundation of confidence-building. The Courageous Flier will push in the throttle, go down the runway and help lift the Skyhawk off the ground. Working the controls is a powerful way to help the child see what is possible and what they are capable of doing!

What’s great about Flight1 is that it doesn’t end there — the child is encouraged to participate for up to three years. The ongoing flight-related activities help instill a sense of fun and anticipation for the kids. Flight1 also continuously measures and evaluates the Courageous Fliers program to ensure maximum effectiveness. Learn more at https://flight1.org.