June 21, 2017

Flights For Special Needs Kids


A Nova Scotia pilot has started a program that introduces special needs children to the wonders of flight. Dmitri Neonakis posted an invitation to parents of special needs kids to meet him at Debert Airport for free flights earlier this month and the response was immediate. “Four days later, we had our first four flights. We had six children and their parents and everything went great, it was awesome. A lot of happy faces up there.” Although none of the passengers is ever likely to ever become pilots themselves, the experience is valuable for them and for pilots on some different levels.

None of the passengers had been in a small plane before and some like 12-year-old Gabey Flores were initially afraid. “The fact that Gabey fought his fear, it was very important to me …, said Neonakis. “He’s not afraid anymore. That’s a big thing for a child to fight his fear at 12 years old. To me, it’s triumph. It’s something great.”

The experience also served as a networking opportunity for parents of special needs children and a chance to share the joys of a new experience. Neonakis, who rents aircraft from Debert Flying Club to do the flights, covers all the costs himself and says he’s been amply rewarded. “It never hit me until I got in my car to go home. The experience was something that I can’t describe. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”