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Opportunity given to teen to be pilot for a day
Maj. Aaron Tallman, 932nd Operations Support Flight, discusses the workings of the C-40 to Hunter Bozaich from the inside the cockpit during his visit for the Pilot for a Day program, March 21, 2011 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Hunter, who is diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis was nominated by Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center to come to Scott and be a pilot for a day. His day consisted of multiple events and tours to include a C-40 Static, a military working dog demonstration, tower tour, and a ride in a flight simulator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian J. Valencia)
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Opportunity given to teen to be pilot for a day

Posted 3/22/2011   Updated 3/22/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Brian J. Valencia
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The first Pilot for a Day program of the year for Scott Air Force Base kicked off and gave one teen a thrilling experience.

Thirteen-year-old Hunter Bozaich was the guest of honor at several base agencies last Monday as part of the program sponsored by the 458th Airlift Squadron.

Hunter was selected for the program through a nomination from his nurses at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, where he has been undergoing treatment for Cystic Fibrosis.

"We take nominations from Cardinal Glennon and St. Louis Children's hospitals as well as local teachers and schools to select children for this opportunity," said 1st Lt. Taylor Todd, 458th Airlift Squadron.

This is the second Pilot for a Day that Lieutenant Todd had organized, but the first he was able to see through to the end. After organizing his first, he missed the actual visit due to a deployment.

"It was a great feeling to see this one through," said Lieutenant Todd. "It's rewarding and gives a sense of pride to see the smiles throughout the day."

Hunter's day started at 7:45 a.m. when he was picked up at the Shiloh Gate by a Humvee and was escorted to base operations to change into his flight suit, complete with patches and a personalized name tag, and shown how to draw up a flight plan.

He then was able to see St. Louis from high above on a Wings of Hope flight in a cessna. Upon landing, he toured the weather and operations side of the flight line before another Humvee ride to the air traffic control tower, then a quick taxi ride in a C-21A by members of the 458th AS.

"I feel good, it's been a great day," said Hunter. "It's been a big surprise being able to fly and meet everyone."

Hunter's mother, Christine Bozaich, kept the visit a surprise until they arrived that morning at Scott, telling him they were going there to sign him up for service. Hunter's mother was grateful for allowing him the opportunity to come to Scott and participate in the Pilot for a Day program.

"This was an opportunity of a lifetime and no words can express how grateful we are," said Chrstine. "Thank you, not just for Hunter but for all the kids that get this opportunity."

His day still was not done as after lunch, he was able to control an aircraft in a KC-135 simulator, see a military working dog demonstration and try on an explosive ordnance disposal suit.

The 458th AS will continue to sponsor the program for Scott which originated at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in 1994 and has since been adopted at several bases Air Force-wide.

"The Pilot for a Day program is a great way to give back to a community that gives so much," said Lieutenant Todd. "I was honored to be a part of giving Hunter a day to get his mind off everything and just have fun."

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