"Pilot for a Day" program brought back to Altus - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

"Pilot for a Day" program brought back to Altus

Posted: Updated:

ALTUS, Okla._The dream of becoming a pilot for one little boy who's been battling leukemia for most of his life came true in Altus.

Altus Air Force Base officials recently brought back a program called "Pilot for a Day" and on Thursday, 2-year-old John Austin was that pilot.

John Austin isn't even three years old and has spent almost all of his life battling leukemia. His father is an airman and thanks to this program, his little boy followed in his footsteps. John was able to forget about doctors and medicine and instead focused on having fun with airplanes.

"It's neat to see people recognizing that kids go through this. They put this program together for them to just have a fun day and bring the family together but you know also, it all comes down to awareness," said Jason Austin, John’s father.

John got to sit in the captain's seat of a KC-135 and a C-17. He also sprayed water from a fire truck and watched a K-9 demonstration. Master Sergeant, Keith Hackney says getting all of this coordinated seems like a lot of work, but it was easy thanks to an outpouring of support.

"It's nothing but a phone call and everybody wants to be involved. Just a couple of phone calls and emails,” explained Master Sgt. Hackney. “Everybody is willing to drop what they're doing for a cause like this."

John's mother say's this day is something they weren't sure he’d ever get to see. John was diagnosed with infantile leukemia when he was just four months old and doctors said he only had a 45 percent chance of surviving to age five.

"It was at the very least devastating,” said Kristy Austin when she explained hearing the news about her son’s survival chances. “Any parent having their child diagnosed with cancer, 80 percent isn't enough, 100 percent is what we need. But, for someone to tell us our child may or may not survive the next five years."

Kristy and Jason have fought right by his side, spending 47 consecutive days at the hospital.

"He was diagnosed and within twelve hours, he's in surgery and he's getting chemo. Our entire lives went from he's sick and we really don't know what's going on to he has cancer," said Kristy.

His parents say he's a fighter; he's been off treatments and in remission since October. His father says even though he's deploying soon he isn't worried about leaving his family behind thanks to his family's strength and the help of his military family.

"It was something I didn't expect. I certainly expected them to help take care of us but everybody has done amazing things,” said Jason.

John's special day ended with a tour of the flight simulator and the control tower. John won't be the only child to experience the life of a pilot; Altus Air Force Base says they plan on holding four "Pilot for a Day" events a year.

Powered by WorldNow
KSWO-TV, 1401 SE 60th Street
Lawton, OK 73501

Telephone: (580) 355-7000
Fax: (580) 357-3811
Email: news@kswo.com

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KSWO. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.