F-35 pilots host Make-A-Wish kids at Hill Air Force Base

May 24, 2018, 10:53 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm

LAYTON, Utah – Sixteen-year-old Michael Garrett Kay had never thought about becoming an Air Force pilot, but that didn’t stop him from taking the chance to see what it takes to step into an F-35 Thursday.

“It’s still really cool to be out here,” Kay said. “It means a lot. I’m so excited. It’s really fun.”

The Clinton teen is one of eight kids who took that unique opportunity Thursday. F-35 pilots, with the 388th Fighter Wing, showed the kids how to suit up, and gave them a chance to sit in an F-35 cockpit trainer. The kids and their families also got an up-close look at one of the fifth generation fighters, and were taken to the top of an air traffic control tower to watch takeoffs, maneuvers, and landings.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work on our parts to get here in our career, and these guys have also gone through their fair share of difficulties,” said Lieutenant Buck Horn, a pilot who helped organize the event. “It’s inspiring for us as pilots to be able to host them out here and give them that experience.”

Each of the eight kids faces their own unique medical challenges. For Kay, it’s a form of Leukemia. He went into remission in March of 2017, but still has to continue fighting the disease until at least the year 2020. Kay’s mother, Rachel says the opportunity means a lot to her whole family.

“To see the smile on his face, and to know that this is a good day when hard days come,” Rachel Kay started. “As soon as the invitation came, we jumped on it. I knew that him and also his brothers would enjoy the day and be able to have fun.”

Sixteen-year-old Michael Garrett with his dad

While he may have no intention of enlisting in the military, Michael Garrett Kay hopes to serve the community in another way – as an oncology nurse.

“I think it’s just cool to help everyone that’s at Primary (Children’s Hospital) that are going through the same thing I am,” Michael Garrett Kay said.

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F-35 pilots host Make-A-Wish kids at Hill Air Force Base