Monday, November 9, 2009

Two Local Boys Become Pilots for a Day

Pilot for a Day participant Giovanni Pizarro, 3, smiles while in the cockpit of an A-10 Thunderbolt II here, October 10, 2009. Giovanni was selected to partipate in the Pilot for a Day program for the month of October, which benefits children of the local community living with catastrophic illnesses. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res

by Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/9/2009 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The base hosted two local children Oct. 16 for its monthly Pilot for a Day program.

The participants were Giovanni Pizzaro, a 3-year-old with Leukemia, and James Whipp, a 12-year-old with Cystic Fibrosis.

The purpose of the program is to provide local children with illnesses an enjoyable day completely devoted to them and their interest in aviation. Both children received their own flight suits, complete with personalized name tags, to wear during the day.

Giovanni's host pilot was Maj. Sean "Olé" Baerman, an A-10 instructor pilot. Accompanying Giovanni was his mom, Yvonne Lozano, uncle, Tony Lozano and sister, Tatiana.

James, who participates actively in the Boy Scouts, brought along his dad, Robert and his grandfather, Jim. James' host pilot was Capt. Jeff "Narco" Burley, an A-10 instructor pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron.

Both boys and their families received a tour of the 358th Fighter Squadron, which included a visit to the life support section, which showcased the gear the pilots wear when flying.

After finishing up at the squadron, James and Giovanni visited an A-10 static display, sat in the cockpit and had the chance to ask their host pilots questions.

Then, the group headed to the 79th Rescue Squadron's hangar to see an HC-130 static display, where the boys again took turns sitting in the cockpit.

The next stop was the 55th Rescue Squadron, where they sat in the gunner's seat of an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

The group was treated to lunch at the 358th Fighter Squadron. After lunch Giovanni and his family departed the base and James and his family headed to the 355th Operations Support Squadron, where James experienced an A-10 simulator. The simulator replicates flying an aircraft over a virtual map as realistically as possible. His family cheered James on after he shot down an enemy plane. "My favorite part of the day was the A-10 simulator," said James. "It was really cool."

After that, James visited the control tower for a brief tour before heading home. While at the control tower he was presented with an "Honorary Air Traffic Controller" certificate and occupational badge.

The Pilot for a Day program originated at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 1994 and has since been implemented at several other Air Force bases.

This months Pilot for a Day participant James Whipp, 12, takes a seat in the cockpit of an A-10 here October 16, 2009. Accompanied by his pilot counterpart Capt. Jeff "Narco" Burley, 358th Fighter Squadron, James and his family took a tour of the base and several of the aircraft to include an A-10 Thunderbolt II, an HH-60 Pavehawk and a C-130 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res


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