Following The Heart: 11-Year-Old Marcus’s Flight1 Journey

Marcus joined our Flight1 program in the summer of 2021 after his grandmother Cynthia heard about it from a friend whose friend’s daughter was in the program. The family felt like the program would be a great fit for Marcus, something that could really be a bright light in his life after everything he has been through at only age 11. 

So far, he’s been able to participate in flight simulations with our Redbird FMX simulators and has completed 2 flights—one daytime flight and one nighttime flight—in our Cessna 172 planes. Before his first flight, the daytime one, Marcus was so excited. From the moment the pilot began showing him different parts of the plane and how they function, he was all in. 

“When I flew for the first time, I felt happy, excited, anxious, nervous, just so many emotions.”

 Marcus | Courageous Flier 

Marcus’s father Devin and Grandmother Cynthia were there with him as well. Devin flew with Marcus in the back seat of the plane, meanwhile, Cynthia stayed on the ground and documented the momentous moment. 

“My bond with Marcus is really strong and I almost went in the back seat with his dad, but I decided to stay down and take it all in from a different point of view. I remember I took a video of him flying and it was such an emotional thing as I stood there watching him go, shouting, ‘Go Marcus, Go, Look at you fly.’ I even had friends of mine tell me, ‘Wow, you can really feel the emotion in that video.’ The whole experience has just been awesome, awesome, awesome.” 

Cynthia | Marcus’s Grandmother 

Cynthia even made Marcus a special flight jacket to commemorate each flight he completes in the program. Currently, the jacket reads “Alpha” and “Bravo” on the back, terms used in the program regarding each flight. Soon another line reading “Charlie” will be added to commemorate Marcus’s 3rd flight. 

“I really wanted Marcus to have this jacket, not only so he could wear it proudly throughout his experiences in the program, but also so he can share the jacket and his experiences in the program with his family one day. In a way, the jacket was also a way of me showing how appreciative I am that this program is in our lives. Really, anytime Marcus is happy, it just pours over to me and seeing that has made my heart so warm for this program. I really can’t say enough things about everything the program does for its families. I remember, like 4 days after Marcus’s night flight, we received a postcard from them congratulating him on his achievement and it just made me so happy to see that. It’s really made me appreciate that there are wonderful people in the world doing good things.” 

Cynthia | Marcus’s Grandmother 

By far though, out of everything Marcus has done in the program, the night flight he did is his favorite experience so far.

“My night flight is my favorite thing I’ve done in the program because of all the lights. Seeing them glow below me was really cool and the professional pilot who flew with me kept telling jokes, which made it even more fun. But really, all of it has been good. I like flying planes and I can’t believe I am doing this at 11.” 

Marcus | Courageous Flier 

Being a Courageous Flier in the Flight1 program has also given Marcus and his father Devin an opportunity to bond and connect on a deeper level. The joy of flight and aviation has brought them closer and has truly been a blessing.

“Bonding with my son, Marcus, has been nothing less than amazing. The time that I get to spend alone with him, where I’m allowed to step into his world, has been so exciting for me.”

Devin | Marcus’s Father 

“My experiences in Flight1 have made our bond stronger because when he’s there I feel comfortable. I feel like I don’t need to be scared unless he’s scared because he makes me feel so safe. His presence has kinda given me some of the confidence that’s helped me be so courageous in taking flight.”

Marcus | Courageous Flier 

Marcus’s family shared no doubt that the program has been able to help him grow and become an even brighter version of himself. Between the complete turnaround, they’ve witnessed with his emotions, to the boosts they’ve seen in his self-esteem, being a Courageous Flier has been extremely impactful during this time in his life. Even though he’d never shown much interest in aviation before, Marcus is hooked now because of all the feelings of freedom, confidence, strength and resilience that flight can offer. 

When asked if he had anything to share with other Courageous Fliers or other kids in similar situations, Marcus didn’t have to pause to even think about it.

 “Do what your heart says to. Just follow your heart and you’ll be okay. Things will get better.”

 Marcus | Courageous Flier

To Marcus and his family, the Flight1 program was something that found them right when they needed it most and offered bonding experiences they couldn’t have imagined being possible. For his next flight, Marcus will fly a two-hour round-trip flight, even stopping for celebratory treats at his destination. We can’t wait to see how you continue to soar, Marcus!