Young adult cancer survivors flew from Bozeman to Helena Tuesday morning as part of the 6th annual Cancer Survivor Flight Camp.
The flight camp is a partnership between Summit Aviation and Eagle Mount in Bozeman to give cancer survivors the opportunity to learn how to fly airplanes.
Ben Walton, President of Summit Aviation, said he’s proud to provide the opportunity.
“Myself, like pretty much everybody, has been affected by cancer in some way,” said Walton. Walton’s mother and sister-in-law had both battled cancer.
He said their fight made him think about how he could help make a difference.
“We have these great planes and a lot to offer in the flight school that we have,” said Walton. “Every day at the flight school somebody has a huge milestone and it’s really exciting. I thought, ‘Well, maybe we could expose other people to this that maybe didn’t have a path or a career path to flying or didn’t want to pursue flying.’ It really is a life changing experience.”
Over the week, campers will receive daily flight lessons to learn basic aircraft control and maneuvers.
By the end of the camp, the cancer survivors will be able to perform unassisted take-offs and landings.
The group flew to Helena as a part of their lessons, and took the “legendary” Helena Airport Lincoln Town Car to get a drink at Hub Coffee.
Chelsea Espinoza of Ronan was diagnosed with brain cancer at 27 years old. She said the camp has been a great experience.
“You form pretty strong bonds through cancer retreats and it’s really good for everybody,” said Espinoza. “It gets us out of our shells. You can feel like a different person once you have cancer and this helps get a bit of that normalcy back.”
The Cancer Survivor Flight Camp was started in 2014 and 24 people have gone through the program so far.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News