Col. Howell's Worthy Cause

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I just sent Jack Howell $100 and here's why you should, too.

I met Jack last week at Sun 'n Fun as I was walking the flight line. He had a modest little display with his vintage Cessna 150. As explained in this podcast what Jack Howell is doing is simple: He's raising money to provide free flight training for the children of military personnel who have been killed or wounded in combat. His idea—and I think it's the right one—is that these kids have PTSD every bit as intense and troubling as though they had been in combat themselves.

He's not doing this primarily to provide them career paths, although that might happen for some, nor is he doing it as a one-man effort to arrest pilot erosion, although that might be an effect, too. He's doing it because he envisions flight training as a form of therapy, a worthy and exciting goal for these distressed kids to right themselves and recover from their unseen wounds. When I was talking to him about this, the conversation vividly took me back to the first week of my flight training, as a 19-year-old teenager myself. I can still feel that excitement, even if my attitude toward the aviation industry itself might qualify as jaded.

I'm not normally enthusiastic about things like this, but with Jack, it's different. Here's one guy who's not waiting around for Congress or charities or NGOs or anyone else to help with a problem. He sees it; he sees a way to fix it. I wouldn't expect anything less of a retired Marine, which Jack Howell is. A little cash support is the least I can do.

Jack Howell can't fix the world. But he is fixing what he can with what he's got. Let's see if we can't give him a little more.

The contact info is Teens-in-Flight.com.

Comments (5)

Sorry Paul - my funds are devoted to local kids. But I want to endorse what Jack is doing. I have a past life in youth work and development through challenging environments - mountain walking, kayaking, dinghy sailing, Tall Ships. "Real World" cuts through so much of the BS kids are exposed to and gets right to the point.

Right now I fly Young Eagles. I'll take any kid (with their parent's permission of course) off the airport fence who is hanging watching operations. Personal Minimum is 10 a year. I'll also try and take one a bit further each year. This week one sat back seat and audited me out on a lesson with my CFI. We also needed to buy him a new logbook - he had filled the two page book provided by the EAA program. We got him one at the school. With 6 types, 20 hours and 28 landings in his logbook (12 as sole manipulator of the controls) XXXX took left seat in my 150 when departing Class C KPVD - Providence to fly back home to KUUU - Newport.

And here is the REAL reason to do this. Held back a year in school. Remedial reading and math. After one year while it is wonderful to watch XXXX enjoying his flying - I also enjoy watching aviation help XXX get a handle on his reading and math. A checklist and weight and balance calculation used to be a significant challenge - now they are just an important part of going flying which he tackles without thinking about it.

Posted by: Graeme Smith | April 19, 2013 7:02 AM    Report this comment

Glad to help Col. Jack and the kids. Thanks, Paul, didn't even know about this program but will research it and see if I can use it in my or others' referral process at work.

We're priviledged to have you as the most dedicated aviation researcher that you are. Have a great trip to Europe.

Posted by: David Miller | April 19, 2013 1:20 PM    Report this comment

Done......this was an easy one.

Posted by: David Friedman | April 20, 2013 4:33 PM    Report this comment

Thanks, guys. I know Jack will appreciate it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 20, 2013 7:15 PM    Report this comment

I think PTSD in kids, as a result of the loss of a parent, is very real. I see it in the divorce work that I do, when the non-custodial parent either chooses to abdicate his/her responsibilities as a parent or is forced out of the picture by the actions of the custodial parent. Either way, the kid feels abandoned.

I experienced it as a child, when my Dad was killed in a P-51 accident when I was just 4. For many, many years, I was angry with him for causing his own death, because I had always been told that he was out hot-dogging and screwed up. That turned out to be official misinformation to hide an incompetent instructor, which I discovered when the full accident report was finally declassified--but I was 60 years old by then.

I applaud anyone who recognizes that kids suffer in dramatic ways when they lose a parent. I'm not sure that Jack's program will make much of a difference in these kids' lives, but I hope so.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | April 22, 2013 8:37 AM    Report this comment

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