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The goal of the Pilot for a Day program is to provide children, who have serious or chronic conditions, and their families with the opportunity to be a guest of the 355th Fighter Wing and one of D-M's squadrons for a day. The program strives to give each child a special day as an honorary pilot and a break from the challenges they face. Children are selected for the program by certified Child Life Specialists at local children's hospitals. Participants battle a variety of illnesses and diseases, to include "terminal" illnesses. For many children with severe, but not "terminal" illnesses, the Pilot for a Day Program is a significant milestone in their recovery. Local media representatives are invited to cover Pilot for a Day events to promote public education, community awareness and community involvement. Each honorary pilot leaves D-M with patches, souvenirs and memories to help sustain them in the face of their personal challenges.
tabPilot for a Day Participants 
Sam DuerkopSam Duerkop
Sam Duerkop, an 8-year-old Tucsonan diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, toured the base Jan. 21, 2014 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The program offers local children with disabilities or serious illnesses a chance to enjoy a day focused on them and their interest in aviation. 

Austin Thacker
              Austin Thacker                                          
Austin Thacker, a 15-year-old Tucsonan recovering from  cancer,  toured the base Nov. 22, 2013 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot  for a Day Program.  The "Pilot for a Day" program allows children who have serious or chronic conditions to go behind the scenes with a flying squadron here.

Bryce CraneBryce Crane
Bryce Crane, a 5-year-old Tucsonan battling Leukemia, toured the base Sept. 25, 2013 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The program strives to give each child a special day as an honorary pilot and a break from the challenges they face.

Abrium ReyesAbrium Reyes
Abrium Reyes, a 10-year-old Tucsonan recovering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, toured the base May 16, 2013 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The program offers local children with disabilities or serious illnesses a chance to enjoy a day totally focused on them and their interest in aviation.

Addison RerecichAddison Rerecich
Addison Rerecich, a 13-year-old Tucsonan recovering from a double lung transplant, toured the base Feb. 21,  2013 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The goal of the Pilot for a Day program is to benefit children and their families in the local community who have catastrophic illnesses.

Aspen FritzAspen Fritz
Aspen Fritz, an 8-year-old Tucsonan suffering from several congenital heart defects, lung disease and paralyzed vocal cords, toured the base Dec. 20, 2012 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The program offers local children with disabilities or serious illnesses a chance to enjoy a day totally focused on them and their interest in aviation.

Larry RonstadtLarry Ronstadt
Larry Ronstadt, an 8-year-old Tusconan who was diagnosed with leukemia, toured the base Oct. 25, 2012 as an honorary pilot with the Pilot for a Day Program. The program provides children with a serious or terminal illness a day to visit the base and become an honorary pilot for one of the operational squadrons.

tabD-M Pilot for a Day Program 
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has been supporting the Pilot for a Day program, which was designed to focus on children who have serious or chronic health conditions, for more than 10 years.

D-M's Pilot for a Day program invites local children battling severe illnesses and conditions to be a guest of the 355th Fighter Wing and one of D-M's flying squadrons for an entire day. Children are selected for the program by a certified Child Life Specialist at one of the children's hospitals in the local area. The goal of the program is to give each child a special day and a break from whatever challenges they may face.

The day begins with a brief "swearing in" ceremony at the host squadron, making the child an honorary pilot for the day. A host pilot from the squadron accompanies the child throughout the day, answering questions and ensuring the child and their family has a memorable experience at D-M. The host pilot also provides a tour of the squadron, which may include trying on flight equipment and getting an up-close look at the squadron's aircraft.

The itinerary for each honorary pilot's visit is unique, but all honorary pilots enjoy lunch with their host pilot and members of their host squadron. They also leave D-M with patches, souvenirs, and memories to help sustain them in the face of their personal challenges.

It is a privilege and an honor for the Desert Lightning Team to be able to offer these young heroes a chance to experience life as an honorary pilot.

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tabContact Info
If you would like more information about the Pilot for a Day Program call the 355th Public Affairs office at 228-3378 or send an e-mail.
tabDavis-Monthan Mission
Deploy, employ, support, and sustain attack airpower in support of Combatant Commanders anywhere in the world at a moment's notice. Train the finest attack pilots for the Combat Air Forces. Provide every member of Team D-M with responsive, tailored, mission-focused base support. 355th Fighter Wing history
tabPilot for a Day Archives

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