SafeLaunch is bringing their primary addiction prevention program, “Flights Above Addiction” to the San Gabriel Valley Airport this Saturday, at 9AM.
Alongside the classic aircraft and cars on display at this year’s Air Fair, attendees will find an unusual treat: a pure white Cessna made available for painting by its owner, retired Navy Commander Ron Cuff. In keeping with the holiday, youth will be asked to paint ghosts and ghouls on the aircraft to illustrate this event’s theme, Don’t Get Tricked By Addiction.
The Cessna is a focal point for the addiction prevention organization, SafeLaunch, co-founded by Ron Cuff and Janet Rowse in Santa Barbara. Promoting a science-based approach to addiction prevention, SafeLaunch offers teens opportunities to raise awareness about the threat of addiction. “A 14-year old, if exposed to any addictive substance, is up to six times more susceptible to this deadly disease than an adult, according to research from Harvard Medical School,” Rowse says. Commander Cuff tells kids, “When it comes to ‘getting high,’ an airplane is a great and safe way to do it, but using drugs or alcohol is a really unhealthy, dangerous way.”
The public and press are invited to see the art come to life in memory of people who have lost their lives to drugs, some of whom are memorialized on the wings of 521DJ, the SafeLaunch “prevention plane”.
Ron Cuff, former Navy carrier pilot and co-founder of SafeLaunch Healthy Futures, is flying “DJ’, his Cessna 182 from Santa Barbara to Prescott, Arizona this weekend for the special event, Hope Takes Flight, at Legend Aviation. He is flying all this way to get a new paint job for his plane in remembrance of people lost to addiction, and to share that 90% of the disease starts with youth substance abuse.
By giving kids and their parents a “Preflight” lesson on neuroscience before picking up a paintbrush, they learn something important about how to navigate safely into their futures. Cuff says, “Other pilots think I’m crazy to let people paint on my airplane, but I can’t think of a more important mission”.
SafeLaunch co-founder and Cuff’s co-pilot Janet Rowse explains, “Addiction may not be curable, but everyone needs to know that it is preventable. Parents have to learn the facts about the teen brain. Like the paint on the plane, the science of addiction lesson needs to stick with the parents and the kids”.
The SafeLaunch Addiction Prevention Plane DJ, will be parked at Legend Aviation’s ramp, or hanger in the case of rain. Everyone is invited to paint the plane with names of people they know, as well as the names of celebrities cut down by addiction. Rowse stated, “We are particularly looking for a couple of talented local artists to paint angel wings on the airplane’s tail for this special event because we will be unveiling the names of people who lost their lives to addiction. When we fly back to Santa Barbara after the event, the angel wings will have extra special meaning for our friends in Prescott, Arizona. If there are any painters in this artistic community, we hope they will contact us.”