Xavier Winfield joined Flight1 in 2016 after his mother learned about it at a church grief group meeting. At the time he was 14 years old and had recently lost his father who passed away from a stroke. In June of 2019, Xavier completed his final flight while in the program. Now, he is 18 years old and a high school graduate. We decided to meet with Xavier to see how he was doing and how the Flight1 program has helped him.
When talking about flying, Xavier told us how he had always enjoyed flying to go on trips with his family as a kid. However, he had never really given much thought to the idea of controlling the plane from destination to destination. Sharing his thoughts he said, “Flying is relaxing, but other people might not see it as I see it. I definitely still feel interested in models and how different planes work.”
Throughout his time in the program, Xavier was able to experience flight simulations, go through pre-flight checklists, and pilot three flights. “I remember being very nervous before my first flight because I thought I might be flying by myself, but I had a pilot with me. All my nerves went away once I was up there, the pilot explained everything and it was so smooth.” After a successful first flight, he continued to engage in activities the program offered like courageous flier events, simulations, and more flights. While speaking about his favorite experience he said, “The night flight was definitely my favorite because we got to see the whole city of Indianapolis all lit up. It felt like it was just me up there, like an out of body experience.”
As Xavier’s time in the program continued, it soon became time for his final flight. For this flight, he got to fly from Indianapolis, Indiana to Muncie, Indiana and back. “This flight was very special because I got to take my uncle with me and before we flew back we stopped at an ice cream bar at the airport. It was really meaningful for me to share that experience with my uncle.” Since he completed that flight in June of 2019, Xavier has been coming back as a Flight1 volunteer to help other children in the program. Frequently, he helps with flights and simulations and tries to provide support to any Courageous Fliers who might be nervous.
When asked if he had any advice for other kids facing challenges or other Courageous Fliers in the program, Xavier said, “Don’t let any option fly past you because I was willing to give the flight option up. Luckily I had someone in my corner to support me and push me to try new things. Don’t be quick to say no to new things that come into your life because although they may change it for good or worse, you will never know unless you try.”