A respite day for children and adults living with profound disabilities and life-limiting conditions saw 20 children and 14 adults from Bristol and the surrounding regions spend a day at Bristol Airport as part of an aviation-themed Air Smiles Day on Saturday 21 September.
The Air Smiles Day was run by Airbus, UK aviation charity fly2help and Bristol Airport. Airbus invited 9 families from its Charity Partners to take part and families from St Peter’s Hospice, Headway Bristol and Severn Freewheelers were in attendance, making use of the facilities in The Flight Lounge at Bristol & Wessex Aeroplane Club.
An attendee that had received support from St Peters Hospice said: “It was absolutely lovely to see the children smiling, happy and enjoying themselves. They’ve had so much fun and experienced things they wouldn’t usually get to. Just knowing that they’ve had a day planned that they would enjoy and not having to think about it. It has given them something that they will always remember.”
The aviation-themed day is crafted around a flight experience in a light aircraft and for some of the young attendees this will have been their first flight in an aircraft and a thrilling experience. Members of the group included bereaved children, people living with brain injuries and children with sight-loss. The flight lasted 25 minutes and made use of three aircraft: a Socata TBM, PA-32 Saratoga and Cessna 182.
The attendees took part in demonstrations from Police emergency response services, spent time with Airbus graduates where they learned more about the mechanics of flight and for those willing, had their face painted. Attendees had the opportunity to try out augmented reality facilities used in aircraft design.
Georgina Godfree, Programme Delivery Co-ordinator for fly2help said: “For over a decade, we’ve been working to create life-changing experiences for people living with illness, disability and various forms of life-trauma. The Air Smiles Day enables families to create shared, everlasting memories via the wonder of flight, for some time away from their daily struggles. We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Airbus and Bristol Airport, creating Air Smiles for families from their local area – changing lives, one flight at a time.”
Jacqui Mills, Public and Community Relations Manager at Bristol Airport, said: “The Air Smiles Day is such a special day, it is a true collaboration of aviation partners working together to inspire young people. It’s a fun filled day which Bristol Airport is proud to support and help these young people forget their worries for one day and make magical memories that will last a lifetime.”
Hannah Hammond, Community Relations Officer for Airbus said: “Airbus is really proud to be part of this special day. It has been fantastic to share the inspiring power of aviation. It’s our privilege to help create some wonderful memories for the children and their families.”