By Stephanie Ratts Grissom Herald Correspondent Jun 2, 2018
Area children got the chance to take the controls and pilot an airplane in Killeen on Saturday.
The Flying Vikings held its 10th annual flying event at the Central Texas College hangar at Skylark Field on Saturday. The event was held for children ages 6 through 18, who have chronic illnesses or physical disabilities.
Dolores Groves-Marshall and John Marshall of Killeen brought their daughter Kimi, 9. Kimi has a chromosomal disorder, and this was her first time to fly an airplane.
“She is both excited and nervous,” her mother said. “I am so happy that they celebrate the kids.”
According to Paul Hansen, founder of the Flying Vikings, the nonprofit got its name through his own name’s origin.
“Hansen is Danish in origin, and so are Vikings,” he said. “These kids are all battling something; they are warriors in their own right.”
He said some of the children who participate may have ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or cancer.
“A lot of these kids are used to just hospitals and clinics, so this is different for them, it’s something that 99 percent of people will never get to do,” Hansesn said. “They’re not going [back to school] to play football or baseball, but they can go back to school and say they flew a plane.”
There were about 20 children signed up for a flight, coming from all over Central Texas. Five planes and pilots were ready for their passengers. Killeen SWAT members came out to lift the children into and out of the front of the plane alongside the pilot, with a parent sitting in the back seat. Once the plane reached a high enough altitude, the pilot handed the yoke over to the child to steer the plane. Each flight lasted 20 to 30 minutes, and at the end, each child was presented an authentic flight certificate.
Every child got off their respective planes with a smile on his or her face.
Each plane and every service was donated for the event. Many other people and organizations in the community came out to show their support. CTC provided the hangar; the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce and Harker Heights Fire Department were present; the Harker Heights Lions Club was there to give free vision screenings; also present were the Harker Heights Public Library and the Friends of the Library, the Girl Scouts, and Bikers Against Child Abuse, to name a few, as well as many local restaurants who donated food and beverages for the families present.
“My whole mission is about the kids,” Hansen said, adding he finds the experience, “very, very humbling … I’m blessed to be in a position to be doing this.”
By Dan Beedie |
Posted: Sat 10:40 PM, Apr 28, 2018 |
Updated: Sat 10:52 PM, Apr 28, 2018
COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Saturday morning more than a dozen kids and their families came out to Easterwood airport to take a quick flight, but there was no physical destination. Just good fun.
The flying serves as a brief distraction -- most of the kids are battling life changing diseases.
Paul Hansen, founder of Flying Vikings, says the mission is to fly kids that are disabled, suffering from a physical of chronic illness, or diseases ranging from cancer to down syndrome.
"The smile is what makes the whole difference." says Hansen. "Life is about giving. And really the reward is watching those smiles. And seeing families laughing and crying for the first time in a long time."
Flying Vikings founder Paul Hansen holds events like this one at airports all across the country. Currently, Hansen hopes to be back at Easterwood in the fall, but he says plans are already in place to be back this time next year.
Flying Vikings uses more than 400 volunteer pilots and their personal Cessna and Piper aircraft. They partnered with Friends of Kids with Cancer to put on this event.
Author: David Mueth
Flying Vikings, a non-profit organization located in Belton, Texas provided a special treat for 25 area kids and their families on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Spirit of St. Louis Airport.
“We’re allowing kids that have illnesses or disabilities free airplane rides and we give them the controls and they actually fly the planes,” said Paul Hansen, the president and founder of Flying Vikings.
Flying Vikings uses more than 400 volunteer pilots and their personal Cessna and Piper aircraft. They partnered with Friends of Kids with Cancer, a local St. Louis organization which provides educational, recreational and emotional support.
“The journey with cancer is very much like a roller coaster," said Brandy Bimslager, the program director of Friends of Kids with Cancer. "There’s lots of ups and downs. They experience a lot of missing school missing opportunities. Obviously, their health conditions are very difficult and it’s difficult on the whole family so this is really fun that we can include the siblings and the parents.”
William Bartold, an 11-year-old sixth grader at North Middle School, was thrilled with his ride, but battling cancer since April 2016, Bartold knows first-hand how difficult the battle can be.
“It’s really tough," he said, "because all of your friends are going out to do stuff and you’re in the hospital a lot and you can’t do much and you’re just sitting there and you feel terrible, you’re always sick.”
While families waited to go fly they also participated in crafts, face painting and received pizza for lunch. Flying Vikings flies thousands of kids a year all over the Midwest and South states.
“This one happened to be cancer, but we hold ourselves out to all ailments, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy. Probably a third of the kids we fly, which are thousands a year, are in wheelchairs,” said Hansen. “The reward to me is really watching someone who’s been through something especially like cancer, use to going into a clinic or hospital their lives are turned upside down, and they have kind of lost control to some extent, and we’re giving them the control to something that they can actually take a real airplane and control it. And that’s uplifting for them, it makes them forget about their diagnosis, share a little bit of time with their family, smile, laugh, cry. They are really eye-opening events for the kid, the families, the volunteer pilots the volunteers, they are life-changing for everybody.”
And William Bartold had one last piece of good news to share. “two or three days ago we got our all clear scans.”
Flying Vikings plans to return next year. For more information about the organization go to www.flyingvikings.org.
KILLEEN - The Flying Vikings are a nonprofit that was founded by a pilot who wanted to help kids.
The group lets kids with disabilities fly airplanes, which they say gives the kids a sense of freedom.
"I was doing so good," Matthew Molina said.
Matthew Molina may be in a wheelchair, but when he's soaring above the earth, nothing can keep him down.
"Half the kids we have here today are immobile with wheelchairs and we're giving them the controls of a real airplane and they're flying them," Flying Vikings founder Paul Hansen said. "And that to me is where it's, it's a blessing. It's pretty awesome to see it happen, that's the thing."
Thirty kids showed up to the Skylark Airfield in Killeen on Saturday to fly for free. They climbed onto Cessna aircrafts and took over the controls once they were in the air."
"I was flying!" Molina said.
For some it was their first time.
"I was flying good," Molina said. "Like a man. And I was like the good children."
But for all of them, it was special.
"It was awesome," Matthew's dad Chris Molina said. "I was scared for him, I thought he was going to be scared but he was talking the whole way. He's like, 'Let's go do this, baby.' You know, he was just having a great time."
Today wouldn't have been possible, though, without donations. In all, the event would have cost about $6,000. But pilots donated their time and their planes. Local restaurants donated their food and Home Depot donated arts and crafts.
But flying was still the best part.
"I like going up high," Calleigh Morrow said.
Her grandfather, Pete Morrow, said, "She's just, she was elated. You know, by getting on that plane and going up there. She was so happy."
The Flying Vikings say they're able to fly at more airports than ever before. They were recently in Houston and next year will go to Orlando and Nashville.
They'll be back in Killeen June 11, 2017.
The Flying Vikings are funded mostly on donations and those interested in donating can do so on their website.
Thank you to Everyone that made Saturday special for so many kids. Here is a news clip by KPRC.
By David A. Bryant | Herald staff writer |
On Saturday, about 30 children with special needs or terminal illnesses had exactly that opportunity, thanks to the Flying Vikings and the nonprofit’s eighth annual flight at Skylark Field Airport in Killeen.
“This is only for kids with chronic illnesses or disabilities. That’s the whole program,” said Paul Hansen of Temple, founder and president of Flying Vikings. “What we do is take them up to about 2,000 feet and then let them take the controls. There are two sets of controls, and we are right next to them, so it’s not a danger at all. We just want to have fun with it — a lot of these kids aren’t playing sports— they’re visiting hospitals. So maybe you can’t run the bases, but you can fly an airplane.”
Along with volunteer pilots from Central Texas College’s flight program, who helped sponsor the program and provided the planes, Home Depot donated arts and crafts kits and age/disability-appropriate activities to keep the children occupied while they waited for their turn to fly,
Volunteers painted faces and restaurants Domino’s, Chick-fil-A and Schlotzsky’s donated food, handed out by members of the Harker Heights Lions Club.
The program is free for the kids and their families, Hansen said. The nonprofit relies entirely on donations and volunteers to put kids in the air.
“We have eight pilots out here today and about five planes in the air at a time,” he said.
“We take off from here and fly over Stillhouse Lake towards the Expo Center and come back, so it’s a nice little 25-minute flight for them. The child with a disability is in the front seat and they actually take control of the plane. But you’re sitting only 6 inches from them, so there’s no danger.”
Laura Thomas, whose 7-year-old son Rafe suffers from schizencephaly — a condition where a fetus basically has a stroke in the womb and the brain does not fully develop — said the opportunity was “absolutely amazing” for her son.
“I heard about this on Facebook, on the Fort Hood events page, and thought, ‘What an amazing adventure for my son to go up in a plane,’” she said. “Otherwise, we have a lot of issues because of his chair, moving it and stuff.”
Many of the pilots volunteering their time are leery about handing the controls over to a child, but after their first flight with one of the kids, they tend to look forward to the next time they can participate, said Rick Whitesell, chief flight instructor for Central Texas College.
“At first they’re hesitant about (volunteering), but once they do it, they keep coming back every year asking if they can help,” said Whitesell, who has flown about 20 kids since the program started. “Paul came by about nine years ago and asked if we’d be interested in hosting the location.
“After telling me about the program, I figured this was something the college would definitely be interested in fully participating in.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | 254-501-7554
the Flying Vikings: It’s All About the Kids
Thursday, May 19, 2016
More than 30 local children were provided the opportunity to steer an airplane during a free 30-minute flight at the Georgetown municipal airport May 14. A non-profit called Flying Vikings held an all-day fun fair to provide this special privilege for children with special needs or diagnoses of serious illnesses.
In typical Georgetown style, it was an exciting day made possible via waived fees from the airport, donated pilot time and plane hours, traffic control by Georgetown police, medical help from the Georgetown fire department, activities from Home Depot and Teri’s face painting; plus an abundance of food from Chick-fil-a, Dominos, Cane’s, and Chili’s.
Paul Hansen, the founder and first pilot of Flying Vikings, has been traveling the country for more than eight years, working 80-90 hours per week, bringing hopes and fulfilling dreams of children all over. Now he has a national network of over 250 pilots and is still growing. "Seeing children dream with their eyes wide open at 2000 feet is truly magical. The program is designed to immerse children ages 6 to 18 years old with a chronic illness or physical disability into a high flying adventure. People told me I was crazy to quit my job but when I was young my dad used to tell me to ‘toughen up, you’re a Viking’ so I am here to make a difference for kids are already so strong but may not have these kinds of opportunities.”
Everything is donated for their functions but it is a real business. "I have to travel and have a phone and certify my skills; there are expenses,” Hansen says. "We rely on grass roots support and word of mouth and already in some places we have over 100 planes per day. We don’t advertise or fundraise but if we had financial help we could do this without wondering if we’ll be able to keep the organization going until the next event.”
Hansen is reaching out personally; visiting and speaking to clubs and organizations to help support more flights—SAVE THE DATES—including the next Georgetown event October 29 for Halloween, complete with pumpkin carving. They will also have a Fly Day in San Marcos on June 4.
Flights are open to all children; parents need only send a note to reserve a space. "The mission is just to let the kids feel the controls, they get a certificate that says they flew the plane and then spend the day doing arts and crafts and enjoy the special attention from all the folks who are here to love on them.”
Scott Trigg, whose son Hayden (pictured above) was a pilot for the day said of his son, "He has a zest for life and he loves the attention. He was talking about this all day yesterday and his teachers say he’s ready for NASCAR.”
To donate to or sponsor any or Paul’s events or see a schedule of Fly Days visit FlyingVikings.org