Air Smiles Days

Air Smiles Days are respite days for children and adults living with profound disability, life-limiting conditions, severe illness, bereavement and isolation. Built around a flight experience in a light aircraft, the days include lots of activities, giving them the chance, literally, to leave their worries on the ground and create a lasting memory of a wonderfully happy day out together.

The pilots give their time and expertise freely, flying planes generously lent for the day, ranging from privately owned light aircraft to corporate jets.  We ensure our pilots and the aircraft we use adhere to the highest safety standards at all times to keep our beneficiaries safe.  We assess the health and safety requirement of our beneficiaries before each flight and our fully documented procedures and practices are audited and overseen by aviation experts.

During each day, we might be joined by the airport’s Fire and Rescue Service and classic car enthusiasts and we might visit the Air Traffic Control Tower, private hangars or see vintage aircraft collections.  There is always an endless supply of hot chocolate, lunch and a special cake.  Each Air Smiles Day is documented photographically so that we can send a photobook to each family, group or school.

Air Smiles Days - Isabella Isabelle’s Air Smiles Day

Isabelle is four years old and has a life limiting condition. Her Air Smiles Day was sponsored by the Thomas Cook Children’s Charity and took place at Chester Airport.  The Timpson family donated their King Air aircraft for the flight, which was a first for Isabelle, her older brother and younger sister.

Of her five senses, Isabelle responds most to hearing noise.  So the family was also given a VIP tour of the Cheshire Car Collection and the drivers revved their cars’ engines so she could enjoy the sounds and vibration.

"I never thought that Isabelle would fly, or that we would fly together as a family. You really have made a dream come true for us, and some amazing memories made. Isaac can't stop talking about it."

Isabelle’s mother, Jemma

Acorn Free School’s Air Smiles Day Acorn Free School’s Air Smiles Day

The Acorn Free School provides a unique alternative education for youngsters aged 11-16, who for a variety of reasons may not be succeeding in a conventional classroom environment and are therefore at risk of exclusion.

The school brought along 32 pupils and teachers for a day at RAF Coningsby, where they met pilots from the 29(R) Squadron Typhoon Display Team, went flying, spent time with instructors to have a go on the Typhoon Simulator, visited the BBMF and watched an air display.

“Everybody from your team and the RAF talked with passion, and never judged my children, sharing humour and vast amounts of knowledge.  In "Ofsted-speak", the day was outstanding.  I accompanied three children who have very difficult backgrounds but are managing in school following our programme. They were asking questions about speed and height and why does the plane bank and this has led me to start a project in science about flight (history, physics, maths and language of flight).”

Teacher at the Acorn Free School