Flight simulator for disabled children

U.S. & World

Picking up their boarding passes and making it through TSA is a first for six year-old Elias and seven year-old Nicholas Castillo. The soon-to-be first time flyers both have high functioning autism.

Their father Daniel Castillo says, “They have  a lot of energy and can be a lot of noise sensory issues things like that different for them. “

With a trip planned this summer, Daniel decided a trial run wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Says Castillo, “We have a trip scheduled in June, so this will be a good practice to get them acclimated and get then through the process before we go walk into the real trip.”

Their family was among 50 others San Diegans that participated in American Airlines’, “It’s cool to fly American” program. The event allows children with autism to participate in a ‘mock flight’.

The idea was sparked by Bruce Sickler, an American Airlines employee who is disabled and saw the need.

According to Bruce Sickler, Chairman of “It’s cool to fly American”, “We offer it here at every airport across the country, just to come and practice, to get familiar with the airport and the airport itself.”

As Elias and Nicholas settled into their seats and buckled up for the ‘ride’, it’ seems that these two first-fliers are ready for take-off.

The now-five-year-old “It’s Cool to Fly’, program typically takes about three and a half hours, according to American Airlines’ website, and is free for participants.

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