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Sikorsky has on-boarded a new honorary test pilot. William Beyer from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, suffers from serious heart problems and has dreamed about being a pilot for all six years of his young life.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, partnered with Make-A-Wish for the first time to give William and his family a “pilot for a day” experience on Sept. 5 at the Lockheed Martin Rotary & Mission Systems facility in Stratford, Connecticut.
William was provided a perfectly fitted and personalized flight suit, a flight jacket with all the proper badges, and of course, shiny new aviator sunglasses, before taking to the sky in a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter with his parents Wes and Michelle and younger brother Jake.
Make-A-Wish is a national non-profit organization that creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. William was born with a rare heart defect called Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. At 10 months of age, he underwent a heart transplant and continues to work with doctors to prevent organ rejection.
In addition to the helicopter flight, William and his family toured the manufacturing facility, raced in the S-97 Raider simulator, and enjoyed lunch with Sikorsky pilots as they shared their stories.
“Thank you for making his wish come true,” wrote Wes Beyer on Sikorsky’s Facebook page. “His mom and I were especially moved by all the workers who showed him support and gave him the great welcome as we toured the factory. William is truly blessed.”
John McGonagle, director of flight operations and chief pilot at Sikorsky, said their day with William was one the staff will never forget and was impressed with William’s questions and how he manned the controls during the flight.
“We were all-in from the start,” said McGonagle. “We were thrilled to partner with a great organization like Make-A-Wish. It was just amazing to see our entire company come together in support of a young child who wants to learn more about aviation – that’s what our company is all about.”
“The Sikorsky team’s involvement to make William’s wish a reality is an inspiration to all of us,” said Kim Smith, director of corporate and community giving with Make-A-Wish Connecticut. “They honored William and his family in a way that words can’t describe. William’s wish day at Sikorsky was a wonderful day filled with incredible moments that gave William and his family unforgettable memories.”
Along with McGonagle, Sikorsky pilot Mark Ward made sure William had the proper gear and instructions to learn the basics of flying a helicopter. He also presented William with an honorary test pilot certificate. “To have a child’s top wish be for the job you do every day, really puts your own life into perspective.”