“Co-pilots” Add a Boost of Confidence for Second-Year Fliers


As Kaelyn and Drew stepped into the Aviation Technology Center, it was clear they were both ready to log some time in the Redbird Full-Motion Flight Simulator. They both had toys related to flying; Drew holding a toy airplane, and Kaelyn tightly clutching “Toothless”, a stuffed dragon from the movie How To Train Your Dragon.

​Kaelyn and Drew are both Year 2 Fliers which means they have previously flown the Redbird Stationary Flight Simulator and have had a chance to fly a real plane. Drew, however, turned down his chance to fly in a real plane. According to his Mom, he is far more interested in how everything works.

​His desire to understand was evident as he paid close attention during the short tour of the facility’s hanger. Drew and Kaelyn got up close to a detached Boeing 737 engine, and got to see planes up close and personal. While Kaelyn playfully ducked under wings, Drew walked with the flight instructor listening closely to every word.

​After the brief tour, they moved to the room where the flight simulators were located. Kaelyn, who had not said much during the tour, shyly holding her stuffed Toothless close at all times, seemed to truly blossom once she sat down in the Redbird Full-Motion Flight Simulator. As she twisted and turned the yolk (the plane’s steering mechanism) she occasionally made ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaaah’ sounds.

​While Kaelyn flew the simulator, Drew waited patiently for his turn. When it came, his calmness carried over to his flying. He stared intently at the screens which made up his field of view, and listened closely to the flight instructor’s directions. Drew really showed off his creativity when he choose Athens, Greece as his location to fly the simulator.

​At the end of the session, Kaelyn and Drew both had smiles plastered on their faces and were radiating enthusiasm. They both got to log their flight time into the Flight1 Logbook (Kaelyn including Toothless next to her name), and received their green, Year 2, Flight1 pins.