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SafeLaunch and Signature Flight Support Announce West Coast Flights Above Addiction Tour

Aviation, science and art combine to fight America’s drug and alcohol addiction epidemic


On June 17, SafeLaunch and Signature Flight Support kicked off the “Flights Above Addiction Tour” in four West Coast cities, in the effort to help stem adolescent drug and alcohol exposure and addiction.

During each tour stop, local youth, parents and community leaders are invited to participate in an interactive experience to learn about the science of addiction and how it affects the human brain while it is still under development. At every event, youth have the opportunity to paint their dreams for a healthy, addiction-free future on a Cessna Skylane, the “Flights Above” Tour plane, while SafeLaunch “Wing Parents” (parents who have lost children to addiction) speak to the other parents in attendance.

According to experts, the United States is experiencing an “addiction epidemic,” due to the escalating use of opioids and incidents of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses, which together led to the deaths of approximately 65,000 Americans in 2016.

“Ninety percent of addiction starts before age 18,” said Janet Rowse, SafeLaunch co-founder. “Addiction is a preventable brain disease that we are aiming to stop. By inspiring teens to set goals, take control of their lives, and imagine the vast possibilities that this beautiful world offers, we actively inspire them to achieve a life above addiction.”

The Tour stops at the regional airports of Scottsdale, Ariz., on June 17; Palm Springs, Calif., on June 24; Fresno, Calif., on July 22; and San Diego on Aug. 5.

Signature Flight Support is a global leader in fixed base operations. “At Signature Flight Support we believe in the importance of being involved, responsible members of our communities where we work and live, and that includes providing a safe environment for our children,” said Eric Hietala, Western Regional Vice President at Signature Flight Support. “Addiction, with its potential to ruin lives, must be stopped at an early age. That’s why we are active proponents of SafeLaunch, which educates parents and vulnerable teens, and helps them imagine a positive path for their futures.”

Recent studies have found:

  • Nine out of 10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18.
  • People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly seven times likelier to develop a substance problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older.
  • Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decreases.

SafeLaunch is a 501 (c)(3) founded in 2010 in Santa Barbara, Calif., by parents who believe that preventing children’s exposure to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs is as important as preventing childhood diabetes, lead poisoning or any other preventable disease. Ron Cuff, the tour pilot and co-founder is fond of telling kids that “a great life is like a great flight, you must train for it and choose a destination, but most of all, you must keep your head clear and your brain healthy.”

Flights Above Addiction, a SafeLaunch program, is a flying, interactive art and aviation program where parents and youth learn about addiction risk, and then paint their dreams of a healthy future on a Cessna airplane at air shows and aviation events across California.

Signature Flight Support Corporation, a BBA Aviation plc company, is the world’s largest FBO and distribution network for business and general aviation services. Signature services include fueling, hangar and office rentals, ground handling, maintenance and a wide range of crew and passenger amenities at strategic domestic and international locations. Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Signature currently operates at 205 global locations in the United States, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. For more information, please visit: or on Facebook at Follow Signature Flight Support on Twitter: @SignatureFBO.

BBA Aviation plc is a leading global aviation support and aftermarket services provider. BBA Aviation’s Flight Support businesses (Signature Flight Support and ASIG) provide specialist on-airport support services, including refuelling and ground handling, to the owners and operators of private, business, military and commercial aircraft. BBA Aviation’s Aftermarket Services businesses (Dallas Airmotive, Premier Turbines, H+S Aviation, International Turbine Service, W. H. Barrett Turbine Engine Company, International Governor Services and Ontic) are focused on the repair and overhaul of gas turbine engines and the service of aerospace components, sub-systems and systems. BBA Aviation group companies operate from more than 220 individual locations on five continents. For more information, please visit:

Every Child Soars at “Positive Altitude Day”

Children get caught in the middle when bad things happen in their family… things like drug abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, homelessness, or mental illness caused by drug abuse and addiction can derail a young person’s chance for a productive and meaningful life.

In many such homes, struggling parents abuse or neglect their children severely enough for county officials to remove the children and place them into foster homes. As sad as that is, there is hope. When community partners support nonprofits, they help provide a protective factor for children’s health and well-being.

“Positive Altitude Day” is a youth-focused, inspirational event sponsored by the California Capital Airshow that exemplifies this spirit of shared social responsibility. This year, hundreds of excited young people from all over the region experienced a fun and educational day of hands-on learning and exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) thanks to support from their partners, including Sacramento Jet Center, Sacramento County, City of Rancho Cordova, Van de Pol Petroleum, Mach 5 Aviation, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Jelly Belly, ReCreate, and SafeLaunch.

Thanks to the generous support of our SafeLaunch sponsors and the California Capital Airshow, SafeLaunch held its 27th Flight Above Addiction interactive exhibit at this year’s Positive Altitude event, which took place on Sunday, May 21, at Mather Airfield.

As always, Commander Cuff told each young artist that a great life is like a great flight, which can be achieved by making a plan, picking a destination (career) and going straight for it, and keeping their brain healthy by avoiding intoxicating drugs and alcohol.

All of the kids we met had a positive attitude, which will give them positive altitude in life. Please enjoy the video of the event.

Hope Takes Flight with SafeLaunch at Wings Over Fullerton 2017

The SafeLaunch co-founders felt excited but pensive on their way to Fullerton, California for this 26th SafeLaunch Flight Above Addiction aviation event, taking place the day before Mother’s Day. Carrying not only art supplies, they were bringing an important, hopeful message for families.

The names of 85 young people who died from drugs and/or alcohol have now been permanently affixed under the wings of the plane that is donated to this important prevention mission. Their life stories, shared by their parents, are an integral part of the SafeLaunch mission. While children painted their dreams on the plane and young parents learned about the risk of addiction to developing brains, our “Wing Parents” were in their communities across the country anticipating with heavy hearts how to get through another holiday without their child. To these mothers and fathers we say thank you, and take solace knowing that your child is flying to help protect children from addiction and parents from grief.

SafeLaunch shares the science of addiction risk and the stories of young people whose lives were cut too short with the belief that informed parents will be equipped to do everything possible to protect their children from the preventable disease of addiction. It’s not possible to regulate, enforce or treat our way out of this epidemic that killed over 55,000 Americans last year, but we can protect children from early exposure… where 90% of the disease begins.

Click here to learn more about Wind Beneath Our Wings. Donate to our mission here.