Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016 Year In Aviation Service: Washington, MO Regional Airport Shares Flight, Lofty Dreams With Local Family

By Carmelo Turdo
The Midwest Aviation community is known for showing a welcoming spirit to those dreaming of the wonders of flight.  The Aero Experience has reported many examples in our  2016: Year In Aviation Service series in recent months.  We are now very pleased to post this story from our recent visit to Washington, MO Regional Airport.  The airport staff was preparing for a visit from a very special young man and his family.  

The Ingrams and Officer Saavedra
The Young man is Alec Ingram, and he and his family arrived at the airport around 9:30am Sunday.  They were escorted VIP style by Washington Police Officer Eric Saavedra.  The Ingrams and the airport staff kept the visit a surprise to 11 year-old Alec, who was then told that he could go flying around his home town in an airplane already on the apron awaiting his arrival.  He was indeed surprised to hear of this development, but, after a few seconds, Alec was eager to go along with the idea.  There would also be some other great activities to come during the visit.  

Shortly after arriving, Alec was shown to the aircraft.  He was flown by Washington Regional Airport Manager Kevin Hellmann in a Cessna Centurion with retractable landing gear.  Following the flight, he was given curbside service to the terminal.

Flying in a small aircraft is a great experience for most 11 year-olds, and it was by all accounts enjoyable for Alec who saw his house and neighborhood from the air for the first time.  It was also a testament to his strength of spirit and positive attitude that he was eager to take the flight and also do other activities most people take for granted.  Alec Ingram was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in May of 2015.  Doctors operated on the tumor in his arm, saving it from amputation.  He endured many rounds of chemotherapy and earlier this year, experienced heart failure and was in a coma for three months.  The Alec Ingram we met on Sunday did not appear to be the same young man, just a sharp-looking boy with a backpack.  However, the backpack contains a ventricular assist device that helps his heart pump blood throughout his body until he can be eligible for a heart transplant when he is deemed cancer-free.  He is very fortunate to have strong family, community and spiritual support to continue his fight for recovery.  We encourage you to read about Alec and support his family with your prayers and financial support.   

The flight around the Washington, MO area was just the beginning of the airport activities.  Alec and his family visited some open hangars, one containing a beautiful aerobatic Extra 300 and a Pitts S-2B sitting just outside.  Alec tried it on for size, and after some more growing, it will be just right!

After visiting the hangar, Alec boarded the tractor with airport employee Jim Phillips and they took a spin around the apron. 

As they say, that's not all.  Alec and the Ingram family were treated to an appearance by airshow performer Patrick McAlee flying his ExtremeFlight Pitts S-1E for several "smoke- on" passes.  Following an exciting demonstration, the Ingrams met with McAlee and he gave Alec several autographs and a new ExtremeFlight shirt.  When McAlee heard about the planned visit, he came back from Chicago to contribute to the festivities.  McAlee's mother passed away from cancer, and he instantly made a connection with Alec who currently battles the disease.      

It was the intention that Alec Ingram and his family find enjoyment in their visit to Washington Regional Airport, and it appears as though that was the case.  The Aero Experience thanks the Ingram family for their graciousness and permission to post this story.  We also thank Washington Regional Airport and Patrick McAlee/Extreme Flight for their hospitality and humble aviation service. 

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