Thursday, February 25, 2010

Local Girl Becomes Pilot for a Day

by Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/24/2010 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- Audrianna Ramirez, a 10-year-old battling Cystic Fibrosis, toured the base Dec. 4 as a participant in the Pilot for a Day program.

The program provides local children with serious illnesses or disabilities with a day completely devoted to them and their interest in aviation.

Audrianna brought along her mother, Ramona, father, Norberto, sister, Samantha, and brother, Arturo. Her day started off by meeting host pilot, Maj. Brian Cusson, an A-10 pilot with the 355th Operations Support Squadron.

Major Cusson brought Audrianna and her family to his squadron, where they checked out life support gear and looked through night vision goggles. Audrianna and her family then headed to the 355th Operations Support Squadron where she was presented with a personalized flight suit complete with name tag and squadron patches. While at the 355th OSS Audrianna was administered the Pilot for a Day oath, where she was encouraged to ask a lot of questions and have fun.

Then Audrianna and her family visited the D-M Fire Protection Flight and an A-10 static display, where Audrianna got to sit in the cockpit.

From there, the group visited the 79th Rescue Squadron's hangar, where Audrianna and her family checked out an HC-130 rescue aircraft. Audrianna toured the inside of the plane before heading to the 55th Rescue Squadron, where she toured an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

During lunch Audrianna was asked what her favorite part of the day was but said she had a hard time choosing. "I liked riding in the fire truck, and all the airplanes, and the helicopter," she said.

The group then headed back to the 355th Operations Support Squadron. Audrianna experienced the A-10 flight simulator, a system that replicates flying an aircraft over a virtual map. After her mock flight, the visit ended with a brief tour of the control tower, where she was presented with an honorary Air Traffic Controller certificate and occupational badge. Then, Audrianna and her family headed home.

"I was inspired by everyone that participated in the Pilot for a Day Program," said Major Cusson. "Our young pilot and her siblings remained enthusiastic and eager to learn from the Airmen and civilian employees in many of the bases' diverse mission areas. The D-M team did a great job showcasing their skills, bringing smiles to their young faces and warm hearts to the parents, who walked away with a refreshing confirmation that they are protected by the Air Force's proud men and women."

Pilot for a Day participant, 10-year-old Audrianna Ramirez, sits in the cockpit of an A-10 Thunderbolt II static display on the flight line here December 4, 2009. As part of the program, Audrianna and her family were provided with a tour of the base which included static displays of an A-10 Thunderbolt II, HC-130 Hercules and an HH-60 Pavehawk. This program is designed to benefit children of the Tucson community with serious disabilities or illnesses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res


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