Child becomes pilot for a day at Charleston

  • Published
  • By Airman Melissa Harper
  • 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A 3-year-old boy became the youngest honorary pilot for the 17th Airlift Squadron as unit Airmen held a Pilot for a Day program April 20 at Charleston Air Force Base.

Zachary Moore was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 18 months and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

He is the son of Capt. Christopher Moore, the 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs chief. Captain Moore said he talked to Lt. Col. Lenny Richoux, the 17th Airlift Squadron commander, a few months ago, but the colonel didn't know Zachary had cancer. When the colonel found out about it, he wanted his squadron to host the Pilot for a Day program for the child. 

The 17th AS spent a week planning and coordinating all the events of the day for Zachary, his parents and his younger sister, Jaden.

Zachary's experience as a pilot for the day began when he met members of the 17th AS. They showed him a video to explain the base's mission as he sat on his mother's lap. Maj. Brett King, the 17th AS assistant director of operations, then presented Zachary with several items after the video including a squadron coin, squadron stickers, a squadron scarf, pilot wings and a flight jacket. Zachary's flight jacket was slightly too large for him, but they know it will fit him soon. 

Captain Moore had taught his son how to challenge everyone in the room with his new squadron coin, and the room was filled with the sound of several Airmen tapping their coins on tables in response to Zachary's challenge. 

Zachary was also taken to the C-17 Aircrew Training Center where he got the chance to fly in the simulator. 1st Lt. Jeremy Campbell, a 17th AS pilot, helped Zachary with a successful simulated flight around Charleston. 

 "I think he enjoyed the simulator the most," said Lieutenant Campbell. "He seemed to have a lot of fun there." 

Zachary and his family then went to the fire station on base. He met Sparky, their mascot, and he also got a tour of the station including an opportunity to sit in one of the firetrucks. From there he was taken on the flightline in one of the firetrucks to tour a C-17 Globemaster III.

"I think this was a great experience for him," said Kimberly Moore, Zachary's mother. "I'm sure he'll talk about this for days, especially after he takes a nap and recovers from everything he got to do today."

Zachary's day as a Charleston AFB pilot was wrapped up with a picnic. As the 17th AS's honorary pilot, he was invited to attend their squadron picnic after the day's activities as their special guest.

"It's great to have him here to be part of us today," Major King said. 

"I think it was really important for us to do this for him after everything he's gone through so far in his young life," Lieutenant Campbell said. "It was an honor to do this for him because he truly deserved this."

Comment on this story (comments may be published on Air Force Link)

Click here to view the comments/letters page