Dyess delivers dream
By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 18, 2013
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Viewing Dyess' vast arsenal of weapons and bombs, taxiing a B-1 Bomber and blowing up a car with explosives was all in a day's work for a child who participated in Dyess' "Pilot for a Day" program here Jan. 14.
Keegan Vowell, a 16-year-old Abilene resident, received the rare opportunity to not only tour Dyess, but to be immersed in the Airman lifestyle.
"Keegan has gone through a lot in his lifetime," said Capt. Richard Hansen, 9th Bomb Squadron and host pilot. "So we wanted to create a day where we can pull him out of his normal routine and provide an environment where he can experience things he normally wouldn't have the opportunity to do."
Throughout the event, Keegan received his own flight suit, was demonstrated the capabilities of the 7th Security Forces K-9 Unit, toured the air traffic control tower, taxied a bomber, had his name put onto an aircraft, created his own Hollywood explosion with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit and was presented a coin from the base commander.
"I lived in Abilene for a long time, but I never had the chance to see Dyess," Keegan said. "I didn't know what to expect when I arrived, but to be given the opportunity to blow things up and get close to a B-1 and the Airmen who work on them is more than what I could have asked for."
Though the program is titled "Pilot for a Day," selected children are not limited to experiencing the lifestyle of just a pilot.
"Our goal is not to tie them down to being a pilot for a day, but to provide a tour specific to their interests," Hansen said. "If they want to be a fireman, then we will take them to the fire department, if they want to hang with EOD, that's what we will set up. Our goal is to just have fun."
Even though Keegan enjoyed all of the day's events, one activity in particular stood out.
"If I had to choose my favorite it would have to be when I went out with EOD," Keegan said. "The Airmen there let me feel the C-4 and detonate an explosive in a car. Nothing can compare to feeling the shockwave or seeing a fireball shoot up in the air. It was amazing!"
At the end of the tour, Keegan wanted to say a few words before his farewell.
"I am absolutely speechless for what the Airmen did for me," he said. "All I can say is thank you. This has meant a lot to me."