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