Hundreds of pilots will be coming to the AOPA Prescott Fly-In this Saturday, but only one will be letting young artists paint on his plane
Retired Navy Commander Ron Cuff is looking forward to his fellow AOPA pilot’s questions and comments, like: “Does that paint wash off?” and, “I sure hope that paint washes off!” Of course, the big question is why would a guy allow young people to do this to his plane not just once, but 23 times?
Ron Cuff and Janet Rowse are the co-founders of the Santa Barbara based nonprofit SafeLaunch, the name derived from Ron’s experience as a Navy carrier pilot, including 120 safe launches from 7 different aircraft carriers.
SafeLaunch invites parents to take the SafeLaunch Parent Pledge, and shares three key messages:
1) Know that 90% of addiction is contracted before age 18.
2) Preventing teen exposure to alcohol and drugs is not only important, it’s achievable.
3) Addiction isn’t a moral failure, it’s a brain disease.
Cuff says, “I tell young people that a good life is like a good flight. You have to chart your course, figure out what your destination is, keep your mind sharp (no drugs or alcohol) and fly direct.”
When asked if Ron is really a crazy pilot, Rowse says, “No, he’s just willing to go to great lengths to protect kids and the culture from addiction,” says Rowse. “If that means inviting kids to paint his plane, then he does it. After many events just like this, I can honestly say that when you combine art and aviation with kids, magic happens.”
The wings of the SafeLaunch plane, a 2000 model Cessna Skylane, also serve as a flying memorial for over 200 young people ages 17-35 who have died from drugs or alcohol. The names beneath the wings speak silently to other parents, giving new meaning to the lives of young people who died too young. Their stories, in the Wind Beneath Our Wings album that flies with them, show that addiction can happen to anyone, and their beautiful young faces demonstrate to the youth artists that addiction happens to people who were “just like them”. Parents who have suffered the ultimate pain of losing a child from drugs or alcohol are invited to submit their child’s story on their website, www.safelaunch.org/lift-your-child-up
This SafeLaunch event is co-sponsored by Hope Takes Flight Prescott. Come visit the SafeLaunch plane this Saturday at the AOPA Fly-In. Visitors can write the name of a deceased family member on the plane that will fly with the new colorful paint job back to Santa Barbara on its return. Contact SafeLaunch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-283-7233 for more information.