F-16 pilot for a day

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- The 388th Fighter Wing out of Hill Air Force Base invited eight children through the Make-A-Wish foundation to be a pilot for the day Tuesday.

The children spent the day with the 421st Fighter Squadron. They flew the F-16 simulator, watched a special demonstration and earned their wings. It was all part of the "Pilot for a day" program.

Noah Chesler said, "They were pretty cool."

Jake Firth said, "I like the figure eight thing. That was pretty cool."

"I think it's awesome," said Josh Harvey.

Capt. Roberto Flammia, a pilot for the 421st Fighter Squadron loved putting on a show for the children. He said, "Just looking at their faces, I think they loved it. It was a phenomenal opportunity watching them, and I don't think they've ever see anything like that before, or at last I hope they haven't. I think it really hit home for them."

These children have been through a lot. Josh said, "I have cancer, so I have a prosthetic."

Jake explained, "Last year, I had headaches, and I found out I had a brain tumor in my head."

But none of that mattered on base, because they weren't themselves, they were honorary pilots.

"The capabilities of the F-16 are phenomenal," said Flammia.

"I think they're big, bigger then I thought," said Noah Chesler. "I like them. They're cool."

Jake Firth has always liked the military. After months of chemo and hospital visits, he's kicked his tumor. He said, "[I'm] going back to school, looking for a better future." Perhaps a future as a pilot? That would be pretty cool, too!

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com


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