Volunteers bring aviation to physically challenged children

March 5, 2008

Volunteers bring aviation to physically challenged children

By AOPA ePublishing staff

When student pilot Johnny Pineyro saw a newspaper article about Challenge Air, an organization that introduces children with physical disabilities and life-threatening illnesses to aviation, he was determined to get involved.

So when he heard about a Feb. 23 event in his home state of Florida, Pineyro hopped in a plane and headed to Orlando Apopka Airport to spend a day doing something positive for kids and for general aviation. Some 80 children and young adults, ages 7 through 25, participated in the event, taking free 30-minute flights and even handling the controls.

“The best part of the experience was seeing the kids—the anticipation before the flight and then the excitement when they got out of the aircraft,” said Pineyro, who photographed the event. “They were just so excited, they started jumping around. It was a very emotional experience for them and for me.”

Pineyro, an attorney who has about 100 hours of flight time to date, says he will continue to volunteer with Challenge Air, starting by manning the organization’s booth at Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., next month. “As I get more hours and qualify, I’d love to fly the kids,” he added.

March 5, 2008