Stopping the disease of addiction before it starts to ensure healthy futures for America's teens

Flights Above Addiction

Flights Above Addiction is a traveling teen art and aviation program that informs communities that addiction is a preventable chronic brain disease contracted in adolescence 90% of the time.

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Media $500 Contests

Media $500 Contests invite secondary students to produce compelling art and media illuminating the risk of early alcohol, tobacco, and other drug exposure.

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Science of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

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Pilot Seeks 100 Teens to Paint His Plane at California Capital Airshow



October 2-4, 2015
California Capital Airshow
Rancho Cordova, California


Ron Cuff, former Navy carrier pilot and co-founder of SafeLaunch is flying his 2000 Cessna 182 from Santa Barbara to the California Capital Airshow at Mather Field this weekend to get a new eclectic, multi-colored paint job. Cuff says with a wry smile, “Other pilots think I’m crazy to let a bunch of wildly enthusiastic kids paint on my airplane, but I think it’s important for a lot of reasons”.

The SafeLaunch mission is to prevent addiction where is begins 90% of the time, with teens. By giving kids a “Preflight” lesson on neuroscience before picking up a paintbrush, they learn something important about their health and how to navigate safely to their futures.

Parents accompanying their children will be invited to win prizes when they play the new “SafeLaunch Jeopardy” game, which challenges their knowledge about the risks of teen drug use while the their kids paint the fuselage. Janet Rowse co-founder and co-pilot explains, “Addiction may not be curable, but everyone needs to know that it IS preventable. Parents still have the most influence on their children’s health and the greatest ability to protect their kids. But they have to know the facts and the science of the teen brain. Like the paint on the plane, the science of addiction needs to stick with the parents and the kids”.

Getting “high” is an excellent idea if you are in an airplane, but getting high on drugs or alcohol is a horrible idea for teens. According to the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Robert Dupont, M.D., “Getting high (on drugs or alcohol) is really just brain poisoning.”

The SafeLaunch addiction prevention plane will be parked near the Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Space and Aviation LaunchPad in the Kids’ Zone. We invite everyone at the airshow to have their picture taken with “521DJ” to show their support for launching youth safely — just like the amazing pilots in the show.

SafeLaunch Takes Flights Above Addiction to Prescott Arizona’s Hope Takes Flight Festival

Hope Takes Flight Logo

The science of addiction will combine with art and airplanes at a Hope Takes Flight event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Legend Aviation building near the airport, 2020 Clubhouse Drive in Prescott. The free event for children ages 7-18 is sponsored by MATFORCE, Legend Aviation and SafeLaunch, an organization out of Santa Barbara, California, that works with parents and teens to stop addiction before it starts.

Sally Schindel, a Prescott parent who lost her son at age 31 to addiction, worked with SafeLaunch previously, and her son’s name is now permanently inscribed under the wings of the organization’s Cessna 182. Any parent who has lost a child because of addiction may contact the Wind Beneath Our Wings component of SafeLaunch by Sept. 30 to add a name to the airplane. Contact or Janet Rowse at 805-283-7233.

On Oct. 17, children will have the opportunity to participate in one of two workshops – 9 a.m. or noon – in a three-hour commitment that includes a “flying brain science lesson” using art and aviation where they will paint images of their dreams directly onto the airplane. No pre-registration is required.

Included in this community event is live music by three bands – Generation, Fault Line, and Stuff,  free ice cream, prizes and opportunities to look close-up at airplanes, helicopters, a police car, an airport fire truck, hot rods and motorbikes. Donations to cover the cost of bringing the SafeLaunch airplane to Prescott are welcome.

For more information, call Sally Schindel at 602-565-5860 or email

Youth Combine Art and Aviation with SafeLaunch at the California International Airshow in Salinas California

FAA Logo

“Most kids think flying is riskier than drugs and alcohol. They are dead wrong.”
– Ron Cuff, retired Navy carrier pilot

EVENT DATE: September 26-27, 2015

While aviation can produce beautiful and exciting images that thrill people and cause them to be amazed by views never seen before, rarely do kids have an opportunity to paint their dreams on the side of someone’s airplane. But that’s exactly what will happen Saturday and Sunday at the California International Airshow, courtesy of the nonprofit addiction prevention organization SafeLaunch. Members of the public ages 8-18 will be invited to paint their dreams of a healthy future on the sides of retired Navy Commander Ron Cuff’s Cessna. After the show, their art will take flight.

Ron Cuff explains; “SafeLaunch was founded Janet Rowse and myself once we learned that 90% of addiction starts in adolescence, that it’s treatable but not curable, and that kids are up to six time more at risk than adults. I have a pen, a smart device and a plane, so we went to work on a creative plan to get the word out to parents and community leaders.”

Based out of Santa Barbara, this will be the 14th “Flights Above Addiction” event sponsored by SafeLaunch donors. Prior to picking up a paintbrush, kids select a career path (or two or three), and pledge to abstain from alcohol tobacco and other drugs until age 21. Co-founder and co-pilot Janet Rowse emphasizes the importance of primary prevention, “Parents, teachers, coaches and other adults must do everything they can to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol because the disease of addiction kills 40,000 Americans every year by overdose alone. We invite everyone to pledge to do all that they can to ensure that the dreams envisioned by youth can come true”.

Click here to sponsor a Flight Above Addiction. Click here to see a slideshow.


Hollister Painter










Photo Courtesy of SafeLaunch ©