Team BLAZE welcomes newest ‘pilot’ during fun-filled day

  • Published
  • By Airman Davis Donaldson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Pilots, pink gifts and attention, according to Aubrey Armstrong, there’s not much more a child could ask for.

Aubrey had a chance to spend time with pilots at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, June 25, during her Pilot for a Day opportunity.

Pilot for a Day is a program which offers children with disabilities an opportunity to spend a day with pilots and tour the base’s facilities.

Aubrey is a 15-year-old girl from Oxford, Mississippi, and is diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Ever since she was 2 weeks old, Aubrey’s parents were very aggressive with her speech, physical and occupational therapy. According to her mother, Holly Armstrong, Aubrey receives care at Batson’s Children Hospital, and is a champion and representative for the hospital.

“She’s gotten to be a part of a lot of adventures, and Pilot for a Day happened to be one of them,” Armstrong said. “They reached out to us to see if we wanted to participate and of course we said yes.”

Aubrey and her parents spent the day with Capt. Joshua James, a 41st Flying Training Squadron T-6 Texan II instructor pilot.

They went to the 14th Medical Group, and Aubrey received a flight suit in her size. They then went to the flight line, and Aubrey posed for her ‘hero shot’ on the wing of a T-6 with her name on the side.

After her ‘hero shot’ she went to Columbus AFB’s fire department, meeting some of the firefighters who protect Team BLAZE around the clock. The fire department gave Aubrey several mementos, including a pink fire helmet, and a ride in a fire truck. Aubrey also had the chance to spray water from the hose of the fire truck.

“The fire station was very cool because I got a pink fire helmet,” Aubrey said.

James later showed Aubrey a T-6 flight simulator. She was able to fly in the simulator herself before ending the day with lunch alongside various 41st FTS members, to include James and Col. Derek Stuart, 14th Operations Group commander.

James said Pilot for a Day was as inspiring for him as it was Aubrey and her parents.

“It may sound cheesy, but getting to show off what we get to do every day and seeing her face get really excited about everything was amazing,” James said. “I think Pilot for a Day is important for the kids and the families because they get to have a wonderful day together and just be happy, live life and enjoy themselves.”

Armstrong said she realized how much work went into making Pilot for a Day possible for Aubrey and was really appreciative of everyone’s hard work and involvement.

“I thought it was amazing for us to see what Airmen do every day to protect our country and it was an amazing experience,” Armstrong said. “I thought everyone was so outgoing and friendly and they were just so welcoming. It was an awesome experience for Aubrey because she just loved every part of it.”