Happy Hooligans host ‘Pilot for a Day’

  • Published
  • By Capt. Penny Ripperger
  • 119th Wing Public Affairs
On Tuesday a young boy will get first-hand experience of what it's like to be a superstar as the Happy Hooligans give him VIP treatment during their "Pilot for a Day" event at the North Dakota Air National Guard.

Jordan Dvorak, of Grand Forks, N.D. will visit the base for the day. The 5-year old was diagnosed with Leukemia in August. Dvorak, his parents Jason and Lavonne Dvorak, both police officers with the Grand Forks Police Department and several of his friends from Creative Kids Daycare, plan to visit the base where the Happy Hooligans are prepared to show them a day they will never forget.

"This is a day for Jordan, as he is in the stages of beating cancer. We hope to make this a special day with his family and friends, and for them to enjoy a break away from whatever challenges they may face. We are very excited to roll out the red carpet for this little boy," said 1st Lt. Mathew Aiken, 119th Wing C-21 pilot and event organizer.

The 'Pilot for a Day' program is not a new event for the Happy Hooligans. In the past, the Airmen hosted this cherished event with their previous mission of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, where they would honor children, typically those fighting a life-threatening illness or condition.

In 2007 the F-16 mission ended and the 119th Wing began the new mission of the C-21 Lear Jet. The Pilot for a Day program was temporarily discontinued due to the high operations tempo brought on by the mission changes.

"This will be the first time we've done Pilot for a Day with the C-21s. Everyone on base is excited to get this program started again. There are so many wonderful kids out there. If we can make it a memorable day for even a few of these brave kids, it's worth all the work," said 1st Lt. Lee Teigen, C-21 pilot and co-event organizer.

The day will be jam-packed with surprises for Jordan and his friends. Some of the events scheduled for the day include:

· Breakfast in the legendary "Hooligan frame room" with the pilots
· Flight suit made especially for Jordan with an honorary commission to the rank of General
· Interactive base tour
· Base fire department tour
· C-21 Lear Jet demonstration
· Tour of the nearby Air Traffic Control Tower
· Pizza Party at the Fargo Air Museum
· Presentation of donated Sioux Hockey Jersey and other awards

Media is invited to attend part or the entire event. The event will take place from 9 am to approximately 1:30 pm. B-roll and high resolution photos of the event will also be available upon request.

Contact Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing public affairs officer, at 701-451-2194 for the specific schedule and to arrange an escort on base.

Pilot for a Day events are made possible through the "Hooligans Helping Hooligans" fund. The following local businesses sponsored this event by contributing to the fund: Hornbachers, Pizza Hut, Holiday Inn, Fargo Air Museum, MeritCare, Roger Maris Cancer Center, Gate City Bank, Engraphix, J&L Sports, Mardon Nametag Company, Bobcat, Democratic-NPL State Party and The Sioux Shop at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

If a local business has any interest in contributing to the Hooligans Helping Hooligans fund to support future Pilot for a Day events, contact Lt. Matt Aiken or Lt. Lee Teigen at 701-451-2577.

Captions of photos from a previous 119th Wing 'Pilot for a Day' event:

(A) Pilot for Day- 2006: Brig.Gen. Patrick L. Martin, deputy adjutant general and Colonel at the time, temporarily swears in pilot for the day Kristopher Young at the North Dakota Air National Guard, Fargo, N.D. June 2, 2006. The pilot for a day program gives children who have serious or chronic health conditions that have robbed them of some of the joys of their childhood a special day as an honorary pilot and unit member, as well as giving their family members a day away from the many medical tests and treatments that have taken over much of their lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by SMSgt. David H. Lipp)

(B) Pilot for Day- 2006: Capt. Joshua G. Carlson, 178th Fighter Squadron pilot, helps pilot for the day Kristopher Young operate an F-16 flight simulator at the North Dakota Air National Guard, Fargo, N.D. June 2, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by SMSgt. David H. Lipp)

What: Pilot for a day
Where: North Dakota Air National Guard, 1400 32nd Ave N, Fargo, ND
When: Tue. March 2nd, 9 am - 1:30 pm
Media: Contact Penny Ripperger at 451-2194 for specific schedule and to arrange a media escort on base. B-roll and high-resolution photos will be available upon request.