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Little Rock AFB welcomes “Pilot for a Day”

A pilot and helps zip up a jacket for a young boy

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kenny Jubb, 714th Training Squadron assistant director of operations, helps Caden Cabajal, 714th TRS pilot for a day, put his flight suit jacket on at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019. Caden was able to tour a C-130J and receive a lesson in firefighting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

A young boy looks down at his name patch on his new flight suit

Caden Carbajal, 714th Training Squadron pilot for a day, looks at his new name tag on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019. The 15-year-old was a member of the Pilot for a Day program for the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

a father pushed his son in a stroller to a C-130J on the flight line

Caden Carbajal, 714th Training Squadron pilot for a day, is escorted to see a C-130J on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019. The C-130J was outfitted with Caden’s name to show that it was his aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

A mother and her two sons pose for a photo on the flight line in front of a C-130J airplane.

Caden Carbajal, 714th Training Squadron pilot for a day, Eli Carbajal, Caden’s brother, and Amanda Carbajal, Caden’s mother, stand in front of the C-130J with Caden’s name on it at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019. Caden also received a flight suit and flight jacket when he was welcomed to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

A young boys hold a fire hose while it sprays water

Caden Cabajal, 714th Training Squadron pilot for a day, sprays a simulated fire at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019. Caden was shown different firefighting equipment, as well as how quickly firefighting Airmen are capable of donning their gear. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

What do you want to do when you grow up? It is a common question children are asked. Sadly, some children don’t get a chance to fulfill those dreams because of circumstances out of their control. The Pilot for a Day program helps to make some of those dreams come true. Caden Carbajal visited the flight line of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Feb. 26, 2019, with the surprising news that he’d be part of the program.

The Pilot for a Day program aims to foster a professional relationship with the local community by giving children receiving long-term medical care an immersive trip into numerous squadrons on base.

The 714th TRS gave Caden, who was born with a rare kidney disease, his very own flight suit and flight jacket along with patches to show his new place in the squadron, before an exclusive tour of some of the different units around base and a C-130J with his name on it.

“It’s a humbling experience to get to know Caden,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kenny Jubb, 714th TRS assistant director of operations. “Everyone that assisted with the tour was very eager to help out.”

Caden interacted with Airmen from around the base as they showed him their work spaces and the different job aspects they enjoy. He was able to see the aircraft control tower, a C-130J, explosive ordinance disposal, the fire station, and to try on a pilot’s helmet and night vision goggles, among other things.

“You could see the smile on his face when he got to do the different activities,” Jubb said. “I think he really liked going onto the plane and seeing his name on it. He also got to play with the robots at EOD. The EOD guys were really impressed with how skillful he was at controlling them.”

Touring the base with Caden were his mom and brother Eli who were able to experience the day’s events with him.

“He really liked the tour,” said Amanda Carbajal, Caden’s mother. “I like to see him experience special things and just have a good time and take his mind off things. He'll tell everybody, especially when he goes to school and tells his friends.”

Jubb was unsure if Caden would be able to finish out the day’s activities, due to his health concerns, but he made it through the long day.

“He was a bit tired in the morning and wasn’t feeling 100 percent, but as the day went on he really warmed up,” Jubb said. “It was nice to see him with a smile on his face. The fact that we could put that smile on his face and make him a pilot for a day was awesome.”

 

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