Leilani had her first simulator night with us, and enjoyed herself immensely. Her family had moved to Indiana suddenly after a family crisis, and she and her mom were staying with her aunt and younger cousin, Miles.
Leilani and her mother were so grateful to have found the Courageous Fliers program. Leilani went home and told the rest of her family how she had flown to Hawaii in the simulator. Everyone was excited for her, and celebrated her bubbly mood. Almost everyone. There was just one family member who wasn’t as jubilant, her little cousin Miles.
At just four years old, Miles pretty much thinks that 8-year-old Leilani is the pinnacle of awesome. He follows her around the house, copying everything she does. She patiently includes him as much as she can. Sometimes she complains to her mom that he is around too much, and bugs her. But her mom quickly noticed that any time Miles isn’t around, Leilani will shyly ask, “Where’s Miles? It’s boring without him here!”
When Miles heard about Leilani’s cool experience at the flight simulator, it was almost more than he could bear. We happily scheduled a second simulator night for Miles to come and have a turn in the cockpit. As he took his turn, Leilani explained to me their relationship. He’s kind of her cousin. But she thinks of him as more like a brother. “I tell people he’s my cousin-brother.” As kid logic goes, that is a perfectly accurate explanation.
Miles decides to fly to Hawaii, just like Leilani. He is so excited to get his Alpha Flier pin, just like Leilani. He proudly signs his name in the logbook, just like Leilani. I’d like to say that our programming that day helped to build Miles’ confidence, but honestly I have to admit that the high-five and “Good job, Miles!” he got from Leilani did more than we ever could on our own.