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Two courageous boys have a go at being pilots for a day

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England  Capt. Jeff Lehmkuhl, 56th Rescue Squadron chief of current operations and native of San Bernardino, Calif., gives a unit patch to Dawson Davidson, an 11-year-old Mildenhall resident, during a Pilot for a Day event Jan. 8, 2013. The Pilot for a Day program was started at RAF Lakenheath in March 2012 by Maj. Jason Bianchi, 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot, with the intent to assist children throughout local communities who are fighting life-threatening illnesses or conditions by providing a day of fun and allowing for a break from the routine doctor and hospital visits.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England  Capt. Jeff Lehmkuhl, 56th Rescue Squadron chief of current operations and native of San Bernardino, Calif., gives a unit patch to Dawson Davidson, an 11-year-old Mildenhall resident, during a Pilot for a Day event Jan. 8, 2013. The Pilot for a Day program was started at RAF Lakenheath in March 2012 by Maj. Jason Bianchi, 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot, with the intent to assist children throughout local communities who are fighting life-threatening illnesses or conditions by providing a day of fun and allowing for a break from the routine doctor and hospital visits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)

Two boys diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses enjoyed a fun day out as they learnt about the life of a pilot at RAF Lakenheath.

Dawson Davidson, 11, from Mildenhall and Jake Snowling, 15, from Redgrave, arrived at the base where they were greeted by the wing commander and presented with personalised flight suits at 8am on Tuesday.

After getting kitted out the pair were given a briefing about United States Air Force 48th Fighter Wing.

Once equipped and ready to go the two boys got strapped into the pilot seat and took off, in the base’s F-15 Eagle fighter jet simulator.

Technical Sergeant Carissa Lee said: “They really enjoyed that - they said it was like a giant video game.”

After landing safely the pair went to take a look, and a seat, in a real F-15 Eagle and a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter.

In the afternoon Dawson and Jake went to the top of the air traffic control tower to get a birds-eye-view of the base and watch planes take off, before visiting the base’s fire department.

At the end of their day they were presented with their pilot wings by 48th Fighter Wing Commander, Colonel Kyle Robinson.

TSgt Lee said Dawson and Jake has ‘loved’ their day at the base and had the ‘greatest smiles’ on their faces.

The two boys were referred to the base by Addenbrookes Hospital where they are being treated.

TSgt Lee said Dawson’s mother had been absolutely thrilled to see her son, who is being treated for leukaemia, enjoying his day.

The ‘Pilot for a Day’ program was founded in March 2012 by Maj. Jason Bianchi 493rd FS pilot to help children fighting life threatening illnesses or conditions, by providing a day of fun and a break from the routine of doctor and hospital visits.

 

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