Dream Flyer Spotlight: Brianna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Where are you from?

           Taunton

2. Can you describe some of your medical challenges?

          My biggest medical challenge would be my congenital heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy. I no longer have it after receiving a heart transplant, but I have had other medical emergencies and conditions since then. The biggest side effect I’ve gotten from having a weakened immune system to protect my heart is post transplant lymphoma. I’ve also had three other emergency surgeries since then including a surgery to remove part of a tumor from my tonsil, and appendectomy, and a bowel resection.

3. What is your favorite place you flew during your Dream Flight?

         Over the Ocean.

4. Did you enjoy spending time with your pilot? Was there anything most memorable about your time together?

        I had a great time with my pilot! There was one point when we were flying over the ocean and we got really close to a ferry. It was so funny watching the people look at us right above them!

5. What did you love about your Dream Flight?

       Everything! I especially liked when we flew over the Dunkin Donuts headquarters and everyone was waving to us from the ground.

6. Talk me through your Dream Flight experience with your pilot

      When I met my pilot I got an awesome jacket with my name on it and a really cool pair of sunglasses. We then decided where we were going and got in the helicopter! First we went to Boston and flew over the hospitals, Fenway, and the ocean. When we left Boston we flew to Taunton where I was able to see my house and my high school. Lastly, we went to the Dunkin Donuts headquarters and then back to the airport.

7. How would you say ATC is changing lives?

      It gives kids some time to just be themselves. Being up in the helicopter lets you enjoy yourself and focus on one thing, flying!

8. What would you say to someone who hasn’t had a Dream Flight experience yet?

     It’s totally awesome and you’re going to love it so much!

9. Describe ATC in one word

    Fantastic.

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Garrett MacDonald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Where are you from?

          Lakeville, MA

2. What is something that most people don’t know about you?

         I have a photographic memory.

  1. What do you love about volunteering?

        I love being able to help give back to the community, as it also helps develop my character, meet new people, help those in need, especially the kids who come along and fly, and it just gives the great feeling that you were able to make a difference.

  1. How did you hear about ATC?

        I heard about ATC during my Senior year at BSU from Greg Bongiorno, the aviation program manager (and dream pilot) at the time for an opportunity to become an Intern during the summer of 2015.

  1. What made you want to become a volunteer for ATC?

       Above the Clouds is a one of a kind non-profit organization that is truly changing lives. After getting the invite to come to a Dream Flight Day in April 2015, I realized that I had made the best decision in my life, and I still continue to volunteer to this day.

  1. How long have you been involved with ATC?

       2 years

  1. Do you remember you’re first time volunteering for ATC? How was it?

       Oh yes!  I remember the first kid I saw fly because he got to fly in a turboprop, which was absolutely amazing.  

  1. What is your most memorable experience with ATC?

       I did get to help a cadet flyer through his pre-solo quiz, and since I also am a pilot myself, I did my best to make sure that it was all accurate and that he understood why the answers were right. That was a fantastic time, and shortly after, I got to see him fly solo, and it was awesome to see.

9. Talk me through a typical DFD you have with these kids?

      I am the radio specialist at ATC, along with being a general purpose volunteer, which means I can do anything that’s asked. My primary responsibility, is to coordinate with the flight coordinators and with the managers on when the dream flyers depart and arrive, which helps everyone get to where they need to be when its needed.  When a dream flight is arriving, I let the coordinators know that their dream flyer is about to land so they all are there to greet them right when they pull in.

10. How do you think ATC is changing lives?

     ATC is absolutely changing lives for everyone involved, including the kids who come along, the pilots who fly them, and the volunteers who support the whole operation.  The kids who are experiencing a very difficult time in their lives get an entire day that is dedicated to them and there were times when I even heard some kids say that it was the first time they really felt special.  For the pilots, they get to get make a difference for someone who is in need. For volunteers like myself and others, it gives us the ability to help those who need it the most. From simply greeting others when they first walk in, to the talented artists who make the signs, the flight coordinators who make a very important impact in the operations, to the pilots who dedicate their time to take the kids for a ride it benefits everyone, and has made a very positive impact on the community.

11. Is there something I haven’t asked you that you would like to say about ATC?

    If anyone who sees this is considering volunteering, I promise that it will be one of the best decisions you ever make in your life. 

12. Describe ATC in one word

    Unique

Pilot Profile: David Hampson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Where are you from?

     Exeter, NH, though I also lived in Cape Town, South Africa for 7 years.

2. How did you hear about ATC?

     Board member Dan Schrager initially introduced me to the organization. Also, both ATC and Gary Oberstein are clients of my aviation insurance agency so I also learned a lot about the organization by working on the ATC insurance program with Gary and Martha.

3. As a new member of the Board of Directors, what will be your role?

     I will be working closely with fellow board members to sustain the momentum and success ATC has experienced, while looking for opportunities for the organization to grow.

4. What are you most excited about now that you are apart of the Board of Directors?

     I’m excited to now have the opportunity to be involved in the strategical, business, and operational aspects of ATC.

5. Since you are also a pilot, where is your favorite place to fly?

     Teterboro, NJ. I’m generally not a big city guy, but I love the view of New York out the window on approach and departure.

6. What do you love about flying?

     The feelings of freedom, excitement, tranquility, and sense of adventure I get at various phases of flight.

7. What is something most people don’t know about you?

     I owned and operated a franchise seafood restaurant when I was living in South Africa. I always say that was my business school education—it was a profitable business and great learning experience but not an industry I would want to go into again.

8. How long have you been a pilot?

     About six years.

9. Do you do Dream Flights? Discovery Flights? Cadet Flights?

     I have been flying for ATC since spring of 2016, and have done both Dream Flights and Discovery Flights. Over the past year, I was paired with an amazing young woman in the Discovery Flyer Program, and it was so rewarding to see her progress to the Cadet Program.

10. What made you want to become a pilot?

     I’ve loved everything about airplanes for as long as I can remember. We would fly to Florida to visit family several times per year when I was a very young child and I was always glued to the window on takeoff and landing.

11. How do you think ATC is changing lives?

     ATC exposes children to aviation who otherwise may never have been, but it is much more than that. Particularly in the Discovery Flyers Program, ATC shows kids that there is a bigger world out there full of opportunity, and helps instill in them the confidence to take action to make their dreams a reality.

12. Is there something I haven’t asked you that you would like to say about ATC?

     Yes, we always talk about how much the kids get out of ATC but as a volunteer pilot or member of the ATC support team, you will get so much out of the experience as well. Sometimes, I think ATC may be enriching my life as much or more than it does for the kids.

13. Describe ATC in one word

     Life-changing

Unity Through Community Part Two

Earlier this year, in a blog titled “Unity Through Community” a few amazing, local organizations that share our devotion to giving back to the community were highlighted. You can find that article by clicking here. Since that time, Above the Clouds has had the pleasure of working with several other fantastic organizations making a difference that we wanted to let you know about.

House of Possibilities- HOPe was founded upon the belief that children with significant challenges are our heroes and teachers. We believe that they should be afforded unique experiences that their typical peers are able to access, such as opportunities to socialize and enjoy all that the world has to offer. Their hallmark program, Children’s Overnight Respite makes them the premier in-house respite facility in Massachusetts. Additionally, HOPe is unique in that it is the only multi-use respite facility of its kind located on and partnering with a college campus in the United States. From student volunteers to employment opportunities for their adult clients, their partnership with Stonehill College allows for endless possibilities to enrich the lives of our special families. For more information please visit: http://www.houseofpossibilities.org/

Big Sister Boston- Their mission is to ignite girls’ passion and power to succeed through positive mentoring relationships with women and enrichment programs that support girls’ healthy development. Ultimately, their vision is to create a mentor-rich community in which every girl has access to the individual nurturing, guidance, and support she needs to become a confident, competent and caring adult. For more information please visit: http://www.bigsister.org/

Home for Little Wanderers- H.L.W. provides a seamless continuum of vital programs and services for every stage of child and family development. For more than 200 years, they have earned a reputation for doing whatever it takes to strengthen vulnerable families and keep children safe in their own communities, even when they don’t have family support.Serving children and youth from birth to 22, The Home makes a positive impact on over 7,000 lives each year through a network of services including behavioral health, therapeutic residential and special education, adoption and foster care. In addition, a number of innovative programs provide specialized assistance to youth transitioning to adulthood from state systems of care. For more information please visit: http://www.thehome.org/site/PageServer

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have devastated many lives over the past couple of weeks, but there has been a great effort by many groups around the country to give aid to those in need. It is reassuring to know that during these times of struggle our community will come together because we realize that we are all in this together. Organizations like the ones featured above as well as many others really do make a difference and help make the world a better place.

Dream Flyer Spotlight: Mekka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Where are you from?

           Dorchester.

2. Are you a Dream Flyer? Discovery Flyer? Cadet Flyer?

          I am a Dream Flyer but soon will be a Discovery Flyer.

3. What is something most people don’t know about you?

         One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I have a love for photography.

4. Where did you fly during your Dream Flight on June 22nd?

         I flew over Martha’s Vineyard and Gillette Stadium!

5. Did you enjoy spending time with your pilot? Was there anything memorable about your time together?

         I had a wonderful time with my pilot! The most memorable part was when we were about to takeoff because I was so nervous and excited!

6. What did you love most about your Dream Flight?

        My pilot allowed me to help him fly the plane! It was so much fun.

7. Describe your Dream Flight Day Experience

        First we were greeted in the parking lot by all the volunteers. Then Caitlyn and I went upstairs to meet our Dream Flight Pilot where he explained to us what we would be doing inside the plane. After our pre-flight preparation was done we went down to inspect the plane and there were so many people wanting to take my picture. Once we got inside the plane we started communicating with the air traffic control tower and then finally we took off and flew around for about an hour. When we landed I got a hand-decorated poster, a pair of aviator sunglasses and personalized pilot’s jacket with my name on it. 

8. What would you say to someone who has yet to have a Dream Flight Day experience?

       I would say that it is amazing and so much fun.

9. How would you say that Above the Clouds is changing lives?

      Above the Clouds is giving children the opportunity to fly in a plane and even help to fly a plane. I am very grateful for my experience. 

10. Describe Above the Clouds in one word

       EXTRAORDINARY 

The Positive Impact of Aviation

In a recent article by AOPA.org titled “Because He flies,” they explored the transformative effects of flying on a young man who recently received his private pilot license. The conclusion? “Flying has prepared him magnificently for life’s inevitable challenges.” Above the Clouds also believes in the positive transformative effects of aviation. We were born out of a desire to provide a long-lasting and meaningful impact on kids who are facing serious adversity. Our three programs provide important relief for kids under tremendous stress and inspire disengaged youth to participate in making their dreams come true. In addition to that, Above the Clouds aims to:

1. Fulfill the need for seriously ill and underserved children to experience joy and to have opportunities to escape the fear, pain, stress and/or tedium that mark most of their lives.

2. Fulfill the need for youth to be afforded the guidance, support and friendship that a positive adult mentor can offer.

3. Fulfill the need for youth to be provided with experiences that instill a love of learning that can offer the motivation needed to work hard at school.

These goals are accomplished through our three programs: Dream Flyers, Discovery Flyers and Cadet Flyers. The Dream Flyers program is an exciting chance for young patients eagerly looking to complete their hospital stay or children who are disabled to fly in the co-pilot’s seat of an airplane. The Discovery Flyers program affords teenagers with the opportunity to fly regularly and build a bond with a Pilot Mentor. The Cadet Flyers Program targets the growing number of young people who are falling through the cracks at school and aims to help them build a bridge to employment opportunities in the aviation field.

This article reaffirmed the important impact and positive, transformative effects of flying. Most of the kids we get to know have never even been in an airplane let alone been given the opportunity to fly one. This seems like it might be something insignificant but flying in the co-pilot seat and literally seeing the world from a new perspective makes them realize that we are all a part of something larger. The article states: “Having watched this one young man’s journey I get the strong feeling that when times get turbulent, he’ll keep the wings level. In adversity, he’ll see things for what they are and coolly consider options. When moments of decision come, he’ll commit without hesitation.” Above the Clouds hopes to foster this kind of impact by continuing to bring joy and hope through the wonder of flight.

Read the full AOPA.org article here:
https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/may/01/because-he-flies

Cadet Flyer Spotlight: Kate Martinez

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Where are you from?

          I was born in Ecuador. My father is Columbian and my mother is Ecuadorian but I was raised in Boston. 

2. Are you a Dream Flyer, Cadet Flyer or Discovery Flyer?

          I was a Discovery Flyer for 7 months but recently I become a Cadet Flyer.

3. What is something most people don’t know about you?

          A passion of mine is photography. I became interested in photography because I joined a film class and since then I have developed a passion for photography. I love being able to capture moments. 

4. What is your favorite place that you have flown?

          Martha’s Vineyard because that was the very first time I had ever been there. I thought flying over the water was beautiful and seeing the lighthouse was absolutely stunning.

5. How long have you been flying with Above the Clouds?

          8 months.

6. How did you find out about Above the Clouds?

          I found out about Above the Clouds through my high school principal. She told me about a program that wants to help kids learn how to fly. While we talked, she told me how there aren’t a lot of female pilots in the field which really piqued my interest because I want to be apart of a new generation with more female pilots. 

7. What do you love about flying?

          I love the rush you get when you take off and you feel the butterflies in your stomach. When I am in the air I have this sense of freedom which allows me to escape from reality. It’s very relaxing. 

8. Do you remember your first flight?

          I was so nervous my first flight that my hands were trembling as I gripped the yolk. My mentor pilot made everything seem incredibly easy which was reassuring and helped me relax. As we were flying I looked out the window to see the lights of the buildings and the cars which also helped calm my nerves.

9. What is your most memorable Above the Clouds experience?

         I will never forget my first flight because of how nervous I was but was able to overcome it and now I have made amazing progress.

10. How has Above the Clouds changed your life?

        Above the Clouds has changed my life because they have shown me that there is always  new opportunities in every direction. I never thought that I could learn to fly a plane but I took a chance and learned to believe in myself as much as they believed in me.

11. Talk me through a typical day with your pilot

        First we talk about what the flight day will look like. Then we check the plane to make sure its all working well. My pilot will ask me questions along the way and anything I don’t know he makes asks me again later to make sure I am learning.

12. What goal do you hope to achieve with the help of Above the Clouds?

        My end goal is to get to my solo flight. I really just want to have more knowledge about flying and having more confidence in myself when I’m flying.

13. What advice would you give someone who wants to be a Cadet Flyer?

        Being a Cadet Flyer involves a lot of dedication. It’s an amazing experience so if it’s your dream you have to pursue it.

14. Describe Above the Clouds in one word

        Unforgettable.

 

For more information about our Cadet Flyer program click here

 

 

Cheers to 4 Years!

Spring weather is finally in the air which brought to mind that today, May 4th is the four year anniversary of our first Dream Flight ever. For those of you who are not familiar with our organization, Dream Flight Days take place once a month and bring together pilots, volunteers, and kids to enjoy a day of fun through the wonder of flight. Dream Flyers are greeted at our airport base with bells and whistles by our volunteers and escorted to the Above the Clouds Pilot Lounge where they are introduced to their pilot. Together the Dream Flyer and Dream Pilot develop a “Dream Flight Plan” before embarking on a 30-60 minute flight during which the Dream Flyer sits in the co-pilot seat and even helps fly the plane!

It was a beautiful Spring day on May 4, 2013 when we launched our first ever Dream Flight Day. Our first Dream Flyer was a twelve year-old boy from Taunton named Anthony who had received a kidney transplant eight months prior at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. He was so ecstatic and eager to take flight that it was contagious and made everyone feel the same way. Anthony and his pilot went on an aerial tour of the Boston area including Fenway Park and even his Taunton neighborhood. His mother was also very happy with how the day went saying, “After him being in the hospital so long, just that little time away was a really good thing and took his mind off everything. It was a breath of fresh air.”

Giving Anthony a chance to soar after everything he had been through is what Above the Clouds is all about. Above the Clouds was created out of a desire to marry two passions: aviation and helping ill, disabled and underprivileged children and teens. Since meeting Anthony 4 years ago we have been able to accomplish so much including serving 75 Dream Flyers in 2016 and hopefully even more this year! Therefore, as we look to the future we will continue bringing joy and hope through the wonder of flight to many new Dream Flyers, but we will always hold a special place in our heart for our first Dream Flyer, Anthony.

Pilot Profile: Greg Bongiorno

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Where are you from?

                 Marion, MA

2. Where is your favorite place to fly?

                Cuttyhunk (seaplane)

3. What is something most people don’t know about you?

                I love to cook! Not so much the cleaning…

4. How long have you been a pilot?

               26 years

5. Do you do Dream Flights? Cadet Flights? Discovery Flights?

              Dream Flights but I have helped out with others

6. How did you hear about ATC?

             The President of Bridgewater State University met Gary and then introduced me to him

7. What made you want to become a pilot?

            When I was in the 3rd grade I flew up to a fishing camp in northern Maine on an old faded green Dehavilland Beaver float plane with oil streaks covering the belly and that was it for me. I needed to be a seaplane driver! I eventually had the privilege to be a seaplane charter pilot for a few years in my early twenties before moving on to the airlines.

8. How long have you been involved with ATC?

            Going on my third year!

9. What is the most memorable experience you have had with ATC?

           For some reason, I am lucky enough to get the interesting dream flyers and earth loving family members each month. One slightly bumpy day the family member in the back decided to not tell me she was feeling a bit “funny” and tried to throw up in the bag at the last second but she slightly missed and went all over my shoulder and headsets. I am not ashamed to say this isn’t uncommon for me…

11. What do you like most about volunteering for ATC?

          I truly enjoy being a part of an amazing team for a great cause. The ground crew and coordinators do such a great job making the experience for our visitors run so smoothly.

12. How do you think ATC is changing lives?

         The brilliant idea to take the underutilized, dynamic world of general aviation and channel those resources towards fostering happiness and exploration to young individuals that could have never imagined such an experience is truly changing lives.

13. Talk me through a typical fly day you have with these kids

         After the welcoming committee does their fantastic job of greeting our special visitor I have to best on my best game to keep the momentum going! It is always so much fun to introduce my dream flyer to aviation but I make it a point to keep it fun an relaxed. I usually start with non-aviation conversation at the beginning which usually helps me gauge the flyers mood in order to tailor the experience for them. I keep the conversation going and try to figure out how silly I can be since they are usually expecting something serious considering there are airplanes involved. They quickly realize there is nothing serious about what I am doing. After a casual (yet safe and thorough) preflight, I say, “lets go burn some holes in the sky” and I always let them fly if they choose. 

14. What do you love about flying?

        I love the challenges associated with each flight whether its a high-tech jet or old tail dragger, the people I get to fly with each day, the places I go and of course safely returning home at the end of each trip.

15. Is there something I haven’t asked you that you want to say about ATC?

       I am so glad there are DD munchkins now!

16. Describe ATC in one word

      Oberstein!

 

Unity through Community

2016 was an exhausting and polarizing year. Here at ATC, we truly believe in the healing power of giving back to the community. Thankfully, we are not alone in that belief. Below are 4 other organizations that share our devotion to community.

Joy in Childhood Foundation- Since 2006, JCF has been providing the simple joys of childhood to kids facing hunger and sickness in communities across the country. Their dedication to making the world a better place is just one of the many reasons why we are proud to be associated with the great work they are doing. For more information please visit www.dunkinbrands.com/foundation.

Cross Roads for Kids- Crossroads has one main goal: “to empower youth to unlock their potential and positively impact the world.” Crossroads ensures the success of their young people by providing students with summer and school-year programs that support them to become economically independent citizens, socially responsible leaders and emotionally connected adults. Their efforts have resulted in 95% of their C5 Leaders program graduates achieving college acceptance. For more information please visit www.crossroadsma.org

Rodman for Kids- RK hosts the number one single-day athletic fundraiser in the nation supporting at-risk kids! Their mission is “to have every kid live as we would want our kids to live.” RK is an umbrella matching gift charity raising funds for youth-focused social-service organizations. RK and its affiliated charities fundraise year-round, culminating with the Ride for Kids event every September. ATC is proud to be affiliated with RK and can’t wait to take part in the Ride for Kids event this September for the 5th straight year! For more information please visit www.rodmanforkids.org

Old Colony Y- Their main commitment is the development of strong spirit, mind, and body, guided by Judeo Christian principles, and to enrich the quality of life for everyone in their communities. Established in 1887, they served 140,525 people the last fiscal year through mental health counseling, supportive shelters and many other programs! They believe in the essential building blocks for youth’s successful growth and development and we believe in Old Colony Y. For more information please visit www.oldcolonyymca.org

These organizations are so important because during testing times we sometimes need to be reminded that there is still so much good in the world. Now get out there and help us make the world a better place! Wishing you and your communities a prosperous and unified new year. If you would like to volunteer at Above the Clouds please visit www.abovethecloudskids.org/volunteer

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