A 14-year-old AvGeek-in-training gets the aviation experience of a lifetime

Aug 7, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

When it comes to travelling with kids, our motto here at TPG is “start ’em young.” When it comes to building a love for aviation, 14-year-old Kael Wilson puts even the most experienced AvGeek to shame.

Wilson, who has a severe blood disorder, recently got to fulfil his wish of getting a jump start on his future career as a pilot by visiting FlightSafety International in Columbus, OH, and training in its best-in-class $20M flight simulator — all thanks to the organisation Make-A-Wish.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Wilson is “obsessed with flying,” according to the organisation. And that’s no surprise considering his family history: Wilson is a fourth-generation AvGeek who got hooked “from travelling a lot and my dad,” he said. Wilson’s great-grandpa and grandpa were both pilots, the latter serving as an instructor and pilot for the regional airline Republic Airways.

Wilson in the simulator with his father, Chris, who is a pilot for Delta. (Photo courtesy of Make-A-Wish)

Wilson’s father, Chris, has been flying since 1999. For the past 16 years, he’s been a pilot for Delta based out of Detroit, flying a Boeing 717.

Wilson wants to keep his family’s legacy alive by becoming a pilot as well.

That’s where Make-A-Wish came in. When Wilson asked for a gaming computer and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 so he could start training for his pilot’s license, Make-A-Wish not only granted the wish but took things one step further by giving Wilson the chance to go to FlightSafety International and experience a state-of-the-art simulator first-hand.

Wilson said the best part of the trip was flying the new Longitude (a business jet produced by Cessna) and getting to fly with his dad and grandpa. “It sounded like you were in a real plane,” said Wilson, who flew the aircraft from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

Wilson navigating takeoff from SFO with a little help from his co-pilot and father, Chris. (Photo courtesy of Make-A-Wish).

“He did pretty well for his first time ever flying a jet,” noted his father.

Wilson’s favourite places to visit thus far in his young career as a world traveller are China and San Francisco. His most memorable flight to date, he said, was flying from Hong Kong to NYC in business class on one of United‘s Boeing 777s.

When asked what Wilson loves most about flying his answer was simple.

“All of it,” he said. “To see the landscape when you look out the window, how everything is so small when you’re up in the air, discovering the cities and tall buildings.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, life-changing wishes like Wilson’s continue to be granted on a daily basis all around the country, according to Make-A-Wish. The organisation has granted more than 6,500 wishes since March 2020. Learn more about Make-A-Wish by visiting wish.org.

All images courtesy of Make-A-Wish. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.