Terminally-ill Florida teen gets surprise private flight
PALM COAST, Fla. - At the Flagler County Airport, Saturday morning, Austin Booth didn’t know why he was in a small Cessna aircraft. Then, the engine started and Austin and the pilot taxied down the runway and took to the skies. His mother, Angie, watched it all.
"An adrenaline rush," Angie said, "honestly, because you're terrified for your son to get in the sky but also amazing for the dream that's coming true for him."
She said Austin has had to deal with a lot in his fourteen years - doctors say he wasn't even supposed to live past nine. "He has a lot of heart issues," she said, "he has lung failure as well. He has a lot of medical conditions that limits everything he can possibly do."
One day a couple of months ago, the Booths met Rex Tipton, a biker and commercial pilot.
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"I said wow, why don't we just get him an airplane," Tipton said, "because he and I started talking about planes. He found I was a pilot so we started talking and I contacted Teens-in-Flight and started talking with Ric Lehman and Ric made it happen."
"We heard about a young man that had a variety of health issues, a terminal diagnosis," Lehman said, "and his greatest wish was to fly. That's why we exist. That was an easy no-brainer, he's up in an airplane flying it right now."
But what goes up must come down, and eventually Austin’s plane landed. The teen said it was a wild ride.
"It was pretty good, we saw some sharks, we went across the ocean, went to Palatka, and there was a lot of turbulence."
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He made it, though, and they even gave him some pilot’s wings.
"For Teens-in-Flight to do this for us is just amazing," Angie Booth said, "I don't know how to say thank you enough. I'm sure I've said it enough and they're tired of hearing it, but I literally can't say it enough to them."
If you want to help Teens-in-Flight make more dreams come true, you can help donate through a link on their website.