I wish to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy for a day
wish granted 1989
American Airlines Pilot Reflects on His Wish to Take Flight
At age 12, the things that excited Eric the most were aviation and playing sports. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, his ability to play sports was taken away from him, but his interest in flying airplanes continued to get stronger.
“I always remembered wanting to be a pilot,” Eric said. “Flying has always been my passion.”
Make-A-Wish granted Eric’s wish to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was able to fly in a glider plane and a helicopter with the cadets at the academy. Being thousands of feet high gave Eric a glimpse into his future. He knew one day he would become a pilot.
Several years after his wish, Eric continued his fight against leukemia, enduring more chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Throughout his battle, his wish gave him renewed energy and strength. He was able to focus on the memories he had during his wish to get him through the hard days – a vision of experiencing life beyond a critical illness.
After winning his battle to leukemia, Eric decided to take his first flight lesson to pursue his dreams of becoming a pilot.
“When I decided to take the lesson, I thought back on the Air Force Academy and going up in the gilder and helicopter,” Eric said. “It confirmed that’s what I really wanted to do in the first place and give it my 100 percent.”
Decades later, Eric is now pilot for American Airlines, a trusted partner for Make-A-Wish for more than 30 years. As the organization’s largest airline supporter, American Airlines generously donates millions of miles to wish kids every year.
Eric also now gives back to Make-A-Wish® by volunteering his time as a wish granter, to give other children like him the opportunity to see the impossible as possible. He said he frequently sees wish kids at the airport on their way to their life-changing adventures. He looks forward to flying a wish family in the future and urges them to stay strong.
“I am living proof that when you finish your treatments you can have a normal and happy life,” Eric said. “Never give up on your dreams and keep fighting.”
Thank you for your support, American Airlines! You give wish kids the opportunity for hope and a chance to experience life beyond illness.