Flight1 is a unique organization that uses flying to build confidence, at no cost, to children between the ages of 5-18 who have health issues, or to children who have lost an immediate family member to illness. The flights can occur in a simulator, a real plane, or a hot-air balloon! Created in 2011, based out of Indianapolis IN, Flight1 is run by the commitment of some 20+ volunteers.
The man behind the creation of Flight1 is Marcus Strawhorn. In 1991, with his dad as his flight instructor, Marcus took the controls of his first plane at the age of 15. A confidence was born that day which would carry forward and lead to the creation of Flight1 years later.
In 2010, Marcus received the devastating news that he had a form of cancer called Carcinoid Syndrome. The prognosis for that form of cancer is a life expectancy of 2-10 years.
Marcus says, “My next thought was my two young sons. If I’m not around, how do I put 15+ years of fatherhood into the time I have left? What do I want to provide for them; a happy childhood, a memory, a life lesson?
Late one night, several weeks later, it hit me. I thought back to when I became a pilot and how it was one of the most profound moments of my childhood. The self-confidence I gained was immeasurable and I still carry it with me today.
I wanted to instill in my boys the self-confidence that they would need after I might be gone. I knew that the joy of flight could instill in them the same self-confidence I gained as a child. I wanted my boys to have the opportunity to literally, and figuratively, take over the controls and fly.”
Amazingly, after several more doctors visits, it was determined that the cancer diagnosis was incorrect… Marcus would be okay. Marcus’ thoughts, however, remained on those families who weren’t so lucky, those who heard the devastating news that their child was stricken with a serious disease. He believed that, just as he wanted his children to have the confidence that flight could provide, other children could benefit as well.
With that thought and vision, Flight1 was brought into existence.
If you would like to donate or learn more about Flight1, you may do so on their website at http://flight1.org