Pilots for the Day


The 113th Wing. D.C. Air National Guard, welcomed the newest Pilots for a Day, Jack Kirkbride and Houston Pirrung. The Pilot for a Day program allows children with potential life-threatening illness a chance to experience a day in the life of a fighter pilot.

It’s been a tough year for Jack and Houston young lives. The six-year-olds from the Annapolis area have developed a remarkable brotherhood after meeting on the battlefield of cancer.

But Friday might have been their brightest day so far. The Check 6 Foundation, a local non-profit, invited Jack and Houston to be their "Pilot For a Day" at Andrews Air Force Base. Jack and Houston and his family and friends were invited to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences like taking tours of military airplanes and helicopters and Jack and Houston even got to help co-pilot a C-40 aircraft taxi on the runway.

"They are fighting a hard battle and are doing awesome. So they are an inspiration for everyone, so we want to celebrate that today," said Lt. Colonel Rob Balzano.

This was all possible because of one man's brainchild. DC Air National Guard pilot Rob Balzano started the Check 6 foundation to let sick kids and teens know he's got their back.

Jack and Houston are the 21st and 22nd Pilots For A Day. The Foundation now has many people working to make days like Friday just perfect for Jack and Houston and their family.

"It becomes addictive. You do it one time and you see the smiles on their face, the families come out here, they're able to forget about all the worries and problems they have for a day," said Balzano.