Kids fly high – in a good way – with Young Falcons and Safe Launch

Kids fly high – in a good way – with Young Falcons and Safe Launch

Kids fly high – in a good way – with Young Falcons and Safe Launch
Jasmine Ruiz, Carson Ward and Aden Vo board one of the first Young Falcon flights at Buchanan Field on April 23. (Pete Cruz photo)

CONCORD, CA (May 19, 2022) — Eight-year-old Carson Ward had a rough week dealing with another kid at school, but then a surprise lifted his spirits.

On April 23, the Concord boy and a group of other local young people got what might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take to the skies in a small plane. The Young Falcons, Kids Fly for Free, program offers flights by volunteer pilots who want kids to experience the joy of flying.

Stephen Tucker, the Young Falcons’ Ambassador and Coordinator, discovered his love of flying when he joined an aircraft club in high school and a pilot took him on his first flight. “It changed my life,” he said.

Later, he joined the military and started on a life-long career as a pilot.

“Being a pilot and flying is a gift,” said Tucker.

That’s why he and other pilots at Concord’s Buchanan Field want to give that gift to a new generation.

A unique opportunity

Back on Earth, Kim Dixon, Carson’s grandmother, wanted to find ways to help her grandson with his challenges. She saw the Young Falcons grand opening sign when driving by the airport.

“I thought it would be a great experience. It might take his mind off of things and show him that anything is possible,” she said. “I told him that bullies usually never got an opportunity to do something like this, so he had ­bragging rights.”

On a bright and sunny Saturday, Carson and about 20 others took off from Buchanan Field. Carson, along with Jasmine Ruiz and Aden Vo, boarded one of the first Young Falcons flights of the day.

Before heading out to the tarmac, they had a brief safety orientation meeting. All the kids seemed excited, while some parents looked anxious as they prepared to send their kids into the sky. However, smiles appeared everywhere.

On hand for the grand opening were (Back row) YF Coordinator Rose Desmond, Sam Desmond V, (Middle row) Ron Cuff of Safe Launch; Rashid Yahya, owner of Pacific States Aviation and YF sponsor; Stephen Tucker, YF Ambassador and Coordinator; (Front row) Savannah Tucker, and Safe Launch’s Janet Rowse. (Photo courtesy Young Falcons)

Protecting young minds

While folks waited for flights, Ron Cuff and Janet Rowse stood by to promote their Safe Launch program as part of the grand opening. The co-founders of Safe Launch talked to parents and kids about substance abuse and addiction prevention.

Kids got a chance to decorate the side of Cuff’s airplane with colorful designs and handprints, giving Cuff and Rowse time to talk to parents about the importance of preventing drug abuse in young developing minds.

Rows and rows of names of people who have died as a result of substance abuse appear on the underside of the wings of Cuff’s plane. Safe Launch seeks to keep more kids from ending up on the list.

Safe Launch was founded by parents “who believe that preventing childhood exposure to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs is as important as preventing childhood diabetes or any other preventable disease.”

The energetic pair travel to different airport events to spread the message they are so passionate about.

Helping our youth

Both Safe Launch and the Young Falcons programs seek to lift up young minds and give them a helpful boost. Young Falcons grew out of a vision to create a community of future aviators with a focus on education, training and safety. Kids from age 8 and prior to 18 can participate. Pilots and support staff volunteer their time with the help and sponsorship of Pacific States Aviation in Concord.

After the grand opening in April, Young Falcons has sessions scheduled once a month. The next date is May 28, however, all seats are booked through the end of summer.

Fall registration has not started, but slots will fill up quickly with so many eager kids waiting for their chance to fly.

Carson’s Young Falcons certificate proudly hangs on the wall of his room. When he returned from his flight, he gave his grandmother this description: “It was like, calm, and it was so peaceful. Awww man Grandma, it was amazing.”

For more information visit Visit Safe Launch’s website at ­