JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
In December 1994 the 560th Flying Training Squadron started the program “Pilot for a Day.” The program offers children with lifelong disabilities the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a U.S. Air Force pilot.
A representative from San Antonio Medical Center, San Antonio Children’s Hospital or other local hospitals nominates a child with a chronic health condition to spend the day with the flying squadron.
“We have close relationships with a lot of the hospitals downtown,” said Maj. Justin Stimets, 560th FTS C-Flight Commander. “If they have a patient they feel is a good fit for this, they’ll make a nomination.”
For 17-year-old Megan Foster it was her nurse who nominated her.
Since age 8, Megan has lived with Type 1 diabetes. Around November of last year, she began having physical difficulties due to an infected cyst on her spine, causing her to miss nearly three months of school. Within those months, Megan had various surgeries and procedures to remove the cyst.
Despite the challenges and setbacks she faced, she was able to finish her junior year and will begin her senior year this fall.
“She missed a lot of school so we had to wait till the summer for her to be able to do this,” said Thomas Foster, Megan’s father. “I think this is a great opportunity for her. Being retired Air Force, I know how rare and great this is for her to be able to experience.”
Throughout the day Megan was able to tour the 560th FTS building, the aerospace physiology building, control tower and various flight simulators.
She was able to see the various tests that pilots endure before flying an aircraft.
To add to the experience, Megan was suited up in a flight suit and shown three different static display aircraft, all with her name painted next to the actual pilot’s name.
“The spinny chair (Barany chair) was my favorite part, but I also like the flight suit because it feels like I’m wearing pajamas,” said Megan. “Overall it was cool to see everything.”