The Positive Impact of Aviation

In a recent article by 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 article here:

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Tara Keating








1. Where are you from?

     North End, Boston

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

     I used to be afraid of flying! Yikes!

3. What do you love about volunteering?

     Seeing the obvious joy that it brings to the Dream Flyers’ faces as they are greeted when they first arrive at the airport, when they wave goodbye as the plane is taxiing for takeoff and the contagious, genuine smile after they land. It’s just…awesome! Indescribable!

4. How did you hear about ATC?

     My fiance, Mike D’Alessandro, worked at Norwood Airport and became introduced to ATC through Gary.

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

     When Mike came home from work one day and told me about it, I knew it was an organization I wanted to somehow be involved in. An organization based on the wonder of flight and changing the lives of children…what is better than that?

6. How long have you been involved with ATC?

     Nearly 4 years

7. Do you remember your first time volunteering for ATC? How was it?

     I knew it wasn’t going to be my last time volunteering! I couldn’t wait to sign up for another day!

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

     We had a young boy who was a dream flyer that had just beat cancer. Seeing his love for life and smile throughout the day was a memory I will never forget.

9. How do you think ATC is changing lives?

     It gives children who are facing hardship a new perspective (literally). It is bringing them joy, hope and the realization that they can do anything (including co-piloting an airplane)!

10. Talk me through a typical Dream Flight Day you have with these kids

     As a Flight Coordinator I am typically assigned to one Dream Flyer. When the Dream Flyer first arrives we greet him/her with cheers, signs, cowbells etc.! After the Dream Flyer plans their flight with their pilot, we head out to the airplane and the Dream Flyer assists the pilot in pre-flighting the aircraft. Post flight, we greet them when they land and head to our Pilot Lounge for a couple more surprises…their very own flight jacket and aviators!

11. Do you have any personal volunteering goals for 2017?

     I would like to volunteer at nearly all Dream Flight days in 2017!

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

     The spirit on dream flight day is contagious!

13. Describe ATC in one word


Pilot Profile: Bill McGonagle








1. Where are you from?

        Canton, MA

2. Where is your favorite place to fly?


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

       That I get as much out of this program as those kids do

4. How long have you been a pilot?

       18 years

5. How did you hear about ATC?

      Saw them around the airport as I flew recreationally

6. What made you want to become a pilot?

      It’s just something I always wanted to do. I love to challenge myself and share the adventures with family and friends

7. How long have you been involved with ATC?

      About 2 years

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

      Receiving an email from a mother of my Dream Flyer. His dad (who was a commercial pilot) had passed away. When we flew I said “I bet your dad is sitting out there on the wing”. Her email indicated that our flight was a “life changing experience” for her son. Hearing that made my day too!

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

      Sharing my passion and making kids happy

10. How do you think ATC is changing lives?

      It gives kids that have seen so much adversity hope and joy.

11. Talk us through a typical fly day you have with these kids

      I like to engage and teach my Discovery flyer. I let him do a pre-flight with me and try to explain some “basics” to him. My last Discovery Flight took us to Martha’s Vineyard, where I treated him to hot chocolate in the airport restaurant. He face-timed with his mom as we landed so she could enjoy the experience from home. We saw the Cape Cod Canal, tons of cranberry bogs and even a prison. When we got back, he helped me cover the airplane and keep it nice for the next flight.

12. What do you love about flying?

      A sense of freedom

13. What is your flight background? 

      I have a commercial certificate and an instrument rating

14. Where do you want to fly that you haven’t?

      Oshkosh…someday when I own my own airplane!

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

      Many people commend the pilots for their efforts but honestly, we have the easiest job….all we have to do is fly airplanes. The real stars are the amazing ground crew that coordinates what I call “organized chaos” on a typical Dream Flight day. There is SO much that needs to be perfect and they are the ones that really get their hands dirty to make it happen!

16. Do you do dream flights? Cadet flights? Discovery Flights?

      Dream flights and Discovery flights. I’m on my 3rd Discovery Flyer

17. Describe ATC in one word:


Jet Blue Tour

Amazing time at JetBlue last weekend. Nine of our Discovery and Cadet Flyers joined us to get a behind the scenes tour of the airline. We sat in the cockpit, viewed the tower ops and talked to pilots, mechanics and airplane operations personnel. An amazing time was had by all. Thanks JetBlue!
Check out our Album!

Discovery Pilot Michael Kolowich Teaches about Drones

A Drone. An Experienced Pilot. Cameras. Students learning. Amazing aerial footage.
Simply Awesome!

TV Production teacher Mr. McDonough and the CHS student team coordinating the upcoming CHS LipDub worked side-by-side with Pilot Michael Kolowich and his son Robert — and their drone — to capture aerial footage of the CHS campus during the December vacation.

Mr. Kolowich donated his time to teach the Canton HS students how to navigate the drone and record a variety of shots. The results (which will be featured in the CHS LipDub) are breathtaking and the learning experience was priceless.

A big thank you to Mr. Kolowich and his son Robert! A big shout out to Nick Buser for setting this up! Kudos to Mike Noone, Mia Tess, Jason Kaplan, Nick Buser, Steve Gorham and Mr. McDonough for working so hard to make the CHS LipDub 2.0 great. The LipDub is scheduled to be filmed in early February.

Photo Album of Drone Adventure

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