Seriously ill Virginia teen to soar as honorary Air Force pilot

Seriously ill Virginia teen to soar as honorary Air Force pilot

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD. (02/02/2016)(readMedia)-- The Check-6 Foundation will give a Virginia teen with a rare chronic illness a chance to take a break from the treatments and difficulties of being sick to enjoy a day as a military pilot here on Feb. 5.

Guided by Air Force and District of Columbia Air National Guard pilots and military personnel, 16-year-old Michael Oliver of Fredericksburg, Va., will get his own personalized flight suit, fly an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft simulator, tour multiple aircraft and participate in a variety of base events tailored just for him. Each year the Check-6 Foundation coordinates and funds two "Pilot For a Day" events for seriously ill chlidren selected by Childrens National Medical Center.

Michael is one of only about 30 teens in the United States with Erdheim-Chester Disease, a rare illness with similarities to cancer and autoimmune diseases. Prior to the onset of the disease, Michael was a straight-A student and cross-country runner. But he has been unable to attend school in recent months because he must take medication to manage pain and treatments have comprimised his immune system, leaving him vunerable to infection.

At the Feb. 5 event, Michael will visit various units on base and recieve some suprise gifts. In addition, Maj. Tom Shea, a helicopter pilot with the Air Force's 1st Helicopter Squadron, will become Michael's wingman, forging an on-going relationship with him and his family.

The name Check-6 comes from pilots' practice of checking each other's 6 o'clock position for the presense of a threat--literally having each other's back. They share this message in their tig line, "We are the Wingmen that have Your Back!"

Michael is the 17th child to participate in Check-6's Pilot for a Day program. In addition to it's support of seriously ill children, the foundation also provides financial assistance to military personnel and veterans in need. Check-6 is run by volunteers, ensuring that the vast majority of funds rased through annual events, donations and corporate giving go directly to aid the children and veterans it serves. For more information, please contact Rob Balzano or Tom Shea at 862-243-2566 or