Chicago boy takes flight with star pilot, honors late father

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Thursday morning, a star pilot from the Chicago Air and Water Show gave a ride to one very special passenger. It will be a trip around Chicago one young student won't soon forget. (WLS)

The Chicago Air and Water Show doesn't officially start until Saturday. But Thursday morning, a star pilot from the show will give a ride to one very special passenger. It will be a trip around Chicago one young student won't soon forget.

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A star pilot from the Chicago Air and Water Show will give a ride to one very special passenger.



At Robert Healy Elementary School, Simon Mei is somewhat of a celebrity. The 12-year-old boy is about to embark on the biggest adventure of his life.

He's taking a ride with Chicago Air and Water Show Pilot Sean D. Tucker.

"I think it might be fun. I think I might like see the clouds and I think I might see like houses and buildings and people waving," Simon said.

"When this opportunity came to me, to look to see if there was some interest from our students, Simon was the first that came to mind," Healy Elementary Principal Elizabeth Nessner said.

With a little help from his teacher, Healy Elementary Resource Teacher Joe Fisher, Simon entered an essay contest. He wrote about the special bond he shared with his father and their many journeys around the city.

"I have seen all of Chicago by L trains or busses. It would be a dream come true if I could see the beautiful city of Chicago by airplane," Simon read from his essay.

But now that dream is turning into a tribute. Simon's dad, who he shared all those bus and train rides with, passed away just a few months ago.

"I think this is Simon's way of saying, 'Hey Dad, I'm gonna be alright. I was with you L, I was with you on the bus and look what I'm doing. I'm on a plane in the Air and Water Show in Chicago," Fisher said.

"This child needs this. Not just because it's something new for him, but it's something that's life-transformational," Nessner said.

"I'm giving him controls of the airplane. His magic carpet is going to do exactly what he wants it to do. Then if he really likes it, we're going to get him upside down," Tucker said, laughing.

So what would Simon's father have to say about all this excitement?

"I think he would say, 'Good luck!'" Simon said.

Simon will be up in the air for about 30 minutes. The EAA's Young Eagles program that Simon is a part of is in its 25th year and just passed its 2-millionth young eagle pilot this year. CLICK HERE to find out more about Young Eagles.

Related Topics:
societychicago air and water showu.s. & worldIllinois
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