CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Hopkins International Airport hosted a special flight that didn’t go anywhere, but was an important journey for its passengers.
The “Wings for All” event helps individuals with autism and other disabilities get used to flying in airlines.
“A lot of them have sensitivity to sound and noises and lights,” Melissa Khorana, executive director of The Arc of Greater Cleveland, said. “It can be very traumatizing.”
Passengers went through the entire air travel process Saturday morning. They got their boarding passes, went through security, and walked to their gate with the help of volunteers. Finally, they boarded a United Airlines airplane and simulated a 30 minute flight.
Becky Gibson was at the event with her son, Launchlan. She was glad the volunteers made sure the passengers were taken care of.
“They did a nice job by having a sensory room and snacks and just kept the event moving,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cindy Henry was glad her grandson, Gage, warmed up to the airport experience.
“When we got ... to the security checkpoint, he [Gage] was almost in tears,” she said. “Doing this now, it was ‘I want to fly, I want to go, I want to do this again.’”
While the flight certainly wasn’t real, the program got the passengers, and their guardians, excited about travel.
“We don’t have anything booked right now, but after this experience I’m sure we’ll be doing something this summer,” Cindy said.
The Cleveland’s edition of “Wings for All” is part of hundreds of similar events organized by The Arc around the country throughout the year.