Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 9:36 AM
By: Jeffrey Schetroma - Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Every child dreams of what they want to be when they get older. This year, the F-35 Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and volunteers from the Magic Wheelchair organization brought one boy’s dreams to reality.
A ceremony was held Oct. 27 in front of the Fighters and Bombers Directorate to help Dillon Rosenlieb realize his wish to be a fighter pilot.
Volunteer and professional fabricator Doug Hayes Jr., his build team and the F-35 Division gave Dillon a gift of his own Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet Halloween costume.
For the past month and a half, the division worked with Hayes, providing him with design inputs to the build process and coordinated the location for the reveal.
Hayes received specialized training from the Magic Wheelchair, a non-profit organization that partners with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, to build Halloween costumes for kids and young adults with disabilities.
Dillon was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 1, which prevents him from walking independently. Dillon has always enjoyed Halloween with his quadruplet siblings and joined them during trick or treat. However, due to his wheelchair dependency, his costumes never really stood out.
Hayes built a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet scaled to fit Dillon’s wheelchair as well as meet his mobility needs.
The F-35 Division provided costumes for Dillon’s sister, Briana, and two brothers, Conor and Darian, to be his ground crew, allowing the entire family to enjoy Halloween together this year.
On hand for the reveal was Brig. Gen. Michael Schmidt, program executive officer for Fighters and Bombers Directorate; Jorge Gonzalez, director for Engineering and a member of the Senior Executive Service; Michael C. Karraker F-35 division chief; Robert Balserak, air superiority lead for the Lockheed Martin Dayton office, volunteers from the costume build team, family and friends of Dillon, as well as the men and women of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Program Office stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.