Kids & Family

Pilot Gives Boy His "Wings" on Last Flight Before Retiring

When he learned that it was the boy's first flight, he wanted to do something to make it special.


After 36 years of being a pilot, Captain Joe Weis guided his final flight for American Airlines last week before retiring.

Weis' wife, Wendy, was also on the flight and was seated next to a family that was returning from a family reunion in Madrid, Spain. This was the first flight for the family's 2-year-old son, Ki, who has Down syndrome. When Wendy heard it was Ki's first flight, she texted her husband to let him know.

A few moments later, Captain Weis came back and invited Ki and his mother to join him in the cockpit, where the boy was able to reach out and touch the controls and "drive" using the plane's yolk. In a touching moment caught on camera by the flight's co-pilot, Weis pinned his "wings" on the boy's shirt in honor of Ki's first flight and his last.

After staring wide-eyed at the Captain for a moment and down at his new wings, Ki smiled and thanked the pilot using sign language.

"Since it was my last and his first we decided to make it special," Weis said in a Facebook post he shared after the flight.

After a brief hiatus, American Airlines started passing out kids' commemorative wing pins again in 2016, but the wings that Captain Weis gave Ki are the real deal. According to the American Airlines website, pilots and flight attendants have been wearing the wings for more than eight decades. It took Captain Weis 35 years to earn his.

"It's so amazing what he did. The whole thing was so cool," Ki's mom, Sarah Tamar Klitenick, told the Orlando Sentinel. "With all the negative things going on in the world, it's just nice when people do things that are unbelievably nice."

We're sure it will be a day that both Captain Weis and Ki will remember forever.

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(Source: images & video Joe Weis Facebook)

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