I was struggling to schedule busy siblings Evan and Claire together for the same flight day. Claire (pictured) didn’t want to do her flight without her big brother around. He wasn’t nervous at all, but had a scheduling complication. You see, Evan is a 23 year-old pharmacy student at Butler, and Claire was 20 years old and working a summer job at a golf course.


Normally, we induct kids who are 5-18 years old into our programming, after a health challenge has impacted their family. In this family’s case, Evan was diagnosed with cancer as a teenager. During his long days in bed while admitted to the hospital, he often played flight simulators on his ipad to pass the time. When his mother found out about Flight1, they were excited to enroll him, even though he was approaching our age cutoff.


After his treatments became more manageable, we happily enrolled him in the Courageous Fliers program, and he was a quick study after so much practice in the hospital. He might be our oldest beginning flier, at 18 years old. When I met Claire and Evan, they were back for their second year of flying, after both had graduated from high school.


The hit to confidence that comes from a cancer diagnosis in high school must be profound, so we were thrilled to work Evan and Claire back into the schedule even after they left for college. Evan was serious and capable, executing all the flight moves smoothly. Claire was more nervous, but happy to cheer Evan on before she took her turn behind the yoke, snapping lots of photos for Instagram and Facebook.


Evan’s mom talked with me about my own aviation background, and how I hadn’t had the chance to fly for several years. When it was Evan’s turn to fly, she smiled at me and insisted that I should jump in the backseat instead of her, as his passenger. After trying and failing to change her mind, I gleefully jumped in, and took my first flight with a Courageous Flier as my pilot.


This remarkable family is a perfect example of why we are happy to work with individual circumstances to make the Courageous Flier scheduling work. Seeing the smiles on Claire and Evan’s faces demonstrated that the confidence that comes from flying is ageless.