Children’s Hospital of Central California

Expedition – Madera

Flying Adventures Flies in Smiles
Kids Receive Gifts From Above

The giggles and grins were contagious. Kids running from plane to plane, feet pounding the airstrip, nudging each other in disbelief that they were truly this close to so many airplanes, anxious to see the inside of a Mooney, Cessna T210, Piper Arrow III and Citation Jet. Young adventurers comfortable in the pilots seat with the headsets on, grasping the yolk and maneuvering the controls as if they had flown before.

Once again Flying Adventures and Project Suitcase flew in colossal smiles to enthusiastic children and families on their heartfelt philanthropic mission changing the world one suitcase at a time. Twenty giving missionary pilots with twenty colorful suitcases in tow flew into the Madera Jet Center to personally hand-deliver suitcases filled with special items for the ill patients at the Children’s Hospital of California.

Kids, their families and hospital staff warmly greeted the pilots, toured the different planes and learn about the vast world of aviation. Aircraft buzzed overhead, kids almost speechless, overwhelmed, touching every button and knob, even finding the corn nuts hidden in the draws. “Push in the yolk and watch how it moves the flaps of the wings,” explained Pilot Lori, who was just as excited to show the kids how the plane worked as they were to learn.

This was truly a memorable day. Some of the children that received the suitcases are oncology patients at the hospital and currently in cancer treatment. Five-year-old Jonathon, shyly hiding behind his mom has had five open-heart surgeries. Another family had never flown in any type of aircraft, even commercially. The aviators wanted to give back to the community and share the love to those in need.

Suitcases overflowed with clothes, books, toys, games and many other items greatly needed. The kids that came to the airport took the suitcases back to the patients at the hospital. Many of the patients arrive at the hospital with only a few items in a brown paper grocery bag and stay for months at a time. Shopping ‘Elves’ (kids) from Project Suitcase went on an $800 shopping spree to buy their favorite things for the mission, Wii, Xbox games, the latest movie releases and even the classics, such as Annie, Wizard of Oz and Robin Hood. Other pilots also filled Hello Kitty backpacks and Nautica duffle bags with O’Neill t-shirts, Scrabble, Monopoly and more.

Mary Beth Jones, Supervisor at the hospital, said, “The kids who were able to see the planes were fascinated; many of them have never had the chance to see a plane up close, let alone sit in the pilot’s seat! They are still talking about the experience, and wearing their pilot hats everywhere! You have even inspired a few of them to learn more about aviation and how things fly.”

Another Flying Adventures mission accomplished, a journey that has touched the lives of many and brought new light to the world of aviation to others. The Project Suitcase Adventurers look forward to seeing those kids someday as future pilots sharing the sky.