Author Archives: SafeLaunch

Crazy Pilot Coming to AOPA’s Prescott, AZ Fly In

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,

2016-aopa-prescottThis 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 or 805-283-7233 for more information.

Millennials Remembered at the 2016 Wings Over Watsonville Airshow

Aircraft Carrier pilot will reveal the names of some very special millennials who are the “Wind Beneath His Wings” at Wings Over Watsonville

April Rovero

“I feel deep remorse for what my generation has wrought, and I am determined to do something about it.” states retired Navy Carrier Pilot Commander Ron Cuff. “As a card-carrying “Baby Boomer” I feel partially responsible for the epidemic of addiction we now have, with hundreds of loved, young people dying every day. Although I wasn’t a part of my generation’s drug culture, it was my generation that promoted illicit drug and heavy alcohol abuse… and normalized it. Because of this, we are living with a national overdose epidemic that no one saw coming. I have affixed the names of people who lost their young lives from drug and alcohol abuse under my aircraft’s wings to show parents and children that serious, sometimes deadly, consequences from drug and alcohol use can happen to anyone.”

Great Flight NoseSafeLaunch, the nonprofit Cuff co-founded, is bringing its 22nd “Flight Above Addiction” to the Wings Over Watsonville Fly-In on September 3, 2016. There, teens and preteens will be given the opportunity to paint their dreams for a healthy future on Cuff’s solid white Millennium Edition Cessna Skylane.

The Cessna is a focal point for SafeLaunch. Co-founded with Janet Rowse, SafeLaunch raises awareness about the serious threat of drugs and alcohol to developing brains. “A 14 year old’s brain, if exposed to an addictive substance, is up to 600% more susceptible than is an adult’s,” Rowse says. Together, she and Cuff encourage parents to learn the facts and do everything possible to stop addiction where it starts 90% of the time… with adolescent exposure to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs. Cuff tells kids, “A good life is like a good flight. It takes a careful plan and an alert mind, one not fogged by drugs or alcohol, to reach to your life destination”.



Wings Over Camarillo Air Show Youth Attendees to Paint their Dreams on a Cessna

Flights Above Addiction

An interactive aircraft exhibit for artistic youth and aviation enthusiasts comes to Wings Over Camarillo on August 20 & 21 with an important message

SafeLaunch will be bringing the “Flights Above Addiction” aircraft to the Wings Over Camarillo Airshow Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21, to offer teens and pre-teens the chance to paint her fuselage with real paint. While famous aerobatic competitors Vicky Benzing, Dr. Frank Donnelly, Judy Phelps, John Collver and Tim Lust soar overhead, youth air show attendees, including some members from the Boys and Girls Club of Camarillo, will be painting their dreams for a healthy future onto the Cessna 182 named, “DJ”.  DJ, owned by former Point Mugu Missile Test Pilot and SafeLaunch Co-Founder Ron Cuff, is the focal point for SafeLaunch, a primary addiction prevention nonprofit based in Santa Barbara.

“Kids, like pilots, need to stay sharp”, says Cuff, “and just like planning for a successful flight, kids need to have a life plan with a destination. Without a plan, a young person is far more susceptible to experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and going off course.”

SafeLaunch uses art and DJ to raise awareness about the high risk of addiction to young brains. “Fourteen year olds are up to six times more susceptible to developing a dependency to drugs and alcohol than are adults”, co-founder and co-pilot Janet Rowse says. “Going to airshows gives us the opportunity to meet families one-on-one and encourage them to do everything possible to prevent addiction where it starts 90% of the time… with early exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.” See Wings Over Camarillo for tickets and air show information. See SafeLaunch for more information or email to get involved.

SafeLaunch is a registered California nonprofit, Tax ID #46-2832792. Through educational programs for families including Flights Above Addictionⓒ, Wind Beneath Our Wings, parent education seminars, and Media $500 Contestsⓒ, the number of children exposed to drugs and alcohol is reduced.