The Dreams & Wings Program


“Fly Days” are very special events usually scheduled on a Saturday.  The pre-registered children attend a mandatory ground school where they are given a short presentation about the dynamics of flight, about other aviation studies, and about the aviation industry.  Hands-on educational areas offer fun learning experiences surrounding the basic concepts the children learned at the ground school.  These activities may include building model airplanes, flight simulators, working on project sheets, participating in experiments to learn about flight concepts including lift, thrust, and gravity, and the opportunity to explore a real aircraft stationed on the ground. These learning activities are adjusted for all levels of age and ability.

Typically, a number of private planes owned by physically challenged or able-bodied volunteer pilots participate in the events.  These pilots donate their time, aircraft and all expenses related to flying their aircraft and are not compensated for the flights they provide the children.  Weather, time and safety permitting, one of the goals of the event is to provide the opportunity for the children to participate in an actual flight in these small, privately owned aircraft operated by a licensed pilot. Some of the volunteer pilots are also physically challenged.  They have overcome their own physical challenges to accomplish their dreams to fly.  Volunteer pilots spend quality time with their young co-pilots as the children are often encouraged to take the controls to actually fly the planes themselves.

“Fly Days” are volunteer driven.  Dreams and Wings recruits and trains 30 to 50 volunteers for each Fly Day from many organizations, including the International Wheelchair Aviators (IWA), Women in Aviation (99”s) and our other partner organizations.

Since 1995, “Fly Days" have been held in Michigan in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Caro, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lapeer, Luzerne, Marine City, Macomb, Pontiac, Plymouth, Port Huron, Romeo as well as in Fort Wayne Indiana, Oshkosh Wisconsin and Palwaukee Illinois.

Dreams and Wings collaborates with other organizations serving special needs children and their families who would benefit by participating in the program.  Groups that often partner with Dreams and Wings may be athletic organizations serving youth with disABILITIES, physical/occupational/recreational therapy groups, social service agencies, specialized treatment centers, special education school groups, aviation organizations, etc.  The Federal Aviation Administration, Lapeer County Intermediate School District, Mary Free Bed Hospital, Oakland County Department of Parks and Recreation, Tuscola County Intermediate School District, University of Michigan, Dance Marathon, Paws with a Cause, Western Michigan University College of Aviation are just some of the organizations that have partnered with Dreams and Wings to bring this unique program to the thousands of special needs children and their families over the past decade.  These partnerships also assist and inspire challenged youth to pursue their interest, studies and careers.  The event experience may inspire them to pursue a career in aviation, and will certainly encourage them to have greater faith in their ABILITIES in spite of their disABILITIES.

Not only is the “Fly Day” a great introduction to flight, more importantly, it is where these special children are empowered by the flight experience – to look beyond any perceived physical or mental limitations, to demonstrate ABILITY, to set personal goals, to experience achievement, and to look ahead to a more enriched and prosperous life.


There are 4,242,000 children in the United States with disabilities.  Of the nearly 20 million severely disabled people in the U.S., upwards of 70 percent of them face unemployment, according to recent Labor Department statistics.

“Fly Days” serve children from 8-18 years of age (as young as 5 and over 18 may be allowed) along with their families, at no cost to them.  The children served at each event are supported exclusively by philanthropic support and donations.

Dream and Wings’ unique perspective for rehabilitation and motivational therapy fulfills specific therapeutic and emotional needs of these special children and provides the participants and their families a worry-free environment in which to share a positive experience that results in family and community bonding.  Each child who participates in a “Fly Day ” experience receives life-long benefits.  They experience freedom through flight and are encouraged to see beyond their perceived limitations.  The program also helps youth to seek and understand various occupational roles available to them which disABLED people have often been discouraged from pursuing.

Much more than just a wonderful introduction to aviation, the experience of seeing their world from a higher perspective and looking at new horizons, and when possible, taking the controls of the airplane, helps these special children see how they can take greater control of their lives, have the courage to dream and fly to new horizons. Dreams and Wings helps the children and their families see beyond their limitations and dare to dream of the limitless possibilities. The events are an opportunity to experience unique personal achievement, a time for sharing, to see how others with special needs have succeeded and see the possibilities for a richer and more fulfilling life.


Dream and Wings are planned months in advance.  Our staff works with our partner organizations, sponsoring agencies, local airports, pilots and community volunteers in all stages of planning and organizing the events.  Each event has it’s own personality and ambience.  The events echo the unique character of each community, local resources available and the individuals involved.  Part of the wonderful miracle of the Dreams and Wings events is that at the end of the day EVERYONE involved feels like a winner.  Your personal talents, creativity and resources could help create a unique and exciting opportunity for scores of special needs children in your community at a Dreams and Wings Fly Day.  If you would like to get involved as part of the volunteer ground support crew, event planning committee, a pilot, offer your unique gift or resource, or provide essential financial support and be part of the Dreams and Wings team, please contact us at 810-441-2168 or E-mail captjack @bigtube.net

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