Steven and Debby of Gowanda were overjoyed by the birth of their son, Nathan. After a relatively routine labor and delivery, worries developed as nurses discovered abnormalities within Nathan’s chest. At just two days old, doctors found that Nathan had suffered a collapsed lung and required immediate medical intervention from a hospital with specialized care. Mercy Flight was dispatched and transported Nathan to Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, where doctors worked quickly to stabilize his lung.
Nathan enjoyed a full recovery and returned home days later. But as it turns out, Nathan’s first flight in a helicopter would eventually lead to many more. The interest for aviation that was sparked as a newborn only grew as Nathan developed into a young man. With his own rescue in mind, coupled with watching Mercy Flight zoom over his childhood home, Nathan decided that he too wanted to fly someday. Nathan graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Spring 2010 and was selected to attend Phase One of Undergraduate Pilot Training.
Since the Air Force carries only a small fleet of helicopters, most students continue on to fly either fighter or Cargo jets. Nathan’s wish was to fly helicopters; however, he was slated to fly fighters instead. Nathan was granted a meeting with his Squadron Commander, and he told his story about how he is alive and well today because of the skill and professionalism of the Mercy Flight helicopter crew who saved his life twenty-one years prior. Nathan wanted to pay his experience forward and his Squadron Commander relented.
After a tour flying the UH-1N Huey, Nathan now teaches student helicopter pilots in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Now married, Nathan and his wife recently welcomed a daughter in to the world. It is with the birth of his first child that led Nathan to reach out and thank the crews that brought so much relief to his own parents almost 30 years ago.Make A Secure Donation