Pilot for a Day Program Takes Off at 190th Air Refueling Wing

  • Published
  • By By 1st Lt. Briell Zweygardt, Public Affairs, 190th Air Refueling Wing
  • 190th Air Refueling Wing

The 190th ARW and Stormont Vail Health partnered together to host a Pilot for a Day program, October 24, 2022. Stormont Vail Health selected Tinley Benyshek, age 6, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 3 years old.

“My ultimate goal for the Pilot for a Day was to give the child and their family the ability to forget about their illness for a day and have positivity,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Neidhardt, senior evaluator boom, 190th ARW.

Wing leadership and 190th members welcomed the Benyshek family with Tinley’s own designated parking spot and then she was able to gear up with her personalized flight suit and wing patches from her swag bag.

“Just to see the smile on her face, her brothers face and her mom’s. It was awesome,” said Neidhardt. “It warmed my heart.”

The first order of pilot business included a flight briefing where Tinley was brought in to talk about the weather and what aircraft would be refueled.

“It gives Tinley a whole new world view that she hadn’t been exposed to before,” said Tia Benyshek, Tinley’s mom. “While other kids are going to school and maybe learning things through social studies or doing things like field trips, Tinley has not had that opportunity, she’s been completely isolated.”

Tinley sat in the front pilot seat of a KC-135 and got an up-close look of what a boom operator does down in the boom pit.

“I’m so excited that I could do a cartwheel,” said Tinley Benyshek, Pilot for a Day.

To finish off the day, Tinley and her family watched the KC-135 taxi on the runway, take-off and come back around for a fly by.

“I just want to thank Stormont for allowing us to partner up and make this a possibility,” said Neidhardt. “I look forward to the future.”

This was the first Pilot for a Day the 190th hosted with the goal of bringing out a different child every spring and fall.

“It’s really meaningful,” said Tia Benyshek. “I don’t even think they understand the capacity of how deep this runs and helping Tinley just to heal totally.”