Eleven-year-old Carl Hess was given a chance that many people never get: To have a dream fulfilled.
His mom, his sister and I threw out all kinds of ideas, said his stepdad, James Sullivan. He went back and forth on so many things.
His parents suggested a trip to Disneyland. No, no, no, Carl said. Something amazing that I could not do in my entire life.
The debate was settled one day after the Snohomish County boy saw a B-17 at Seattles Museum of Flight. Thats what I want to be a World War II pilot for a day, he told his stepdad.
Carl wanted the experience to include training on how to survive a crash landing, how to build a fire, how to signal to be saved. And he wanted to imagine he was based at Pearl Harbor.
On Monday, Carl and his stepdad spent the day with the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The training included experience in a simulator unit piloting a C-17 cargo aircraft, outdoor survival skills, parachute training and that signature dish of the military, Meals Ready to Eat.
On Friday, Carl and his family fly to Hawaii where he will get five more days of fighter pilot experiences. Most details are being kept secret until he arrives.
The granting of Carls wishes was coordinated through Make-A-Wish, the nonprofit that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening medical problems. Carl, a sixth-grader at Everetts Heatherwood Middle School, was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2011.
He has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for 18 months, a regimen scheduled to continue for the next two years.
As Carl and his stepdad were driven in a military van to the site south of Tacoma where the C-17 simulator is based, they passed a field where training is conducted.
How many push-ups can you do? asked Master Sgt. Charles Pfenning, who specializes in survival training.
Some survival skills havent changed much since World War II, Pfenning said.
Carl and his stepdad climbed a flight of stairs about two stories high to enter the white, dome-shaped simulator. The
$20 million machine is one of four on the base, said Lou Matz, site manager.
The machines can simulate nearly any circumstance pilots might encounter, from in-flight refueling to emergencies such as a fire in the cabin or an engine failure.
Pilots can even fly simulated sorties with people using simulators at other bases, Matz said.
Carl spent more than an hour in the simulator. About eight minutes into the flight, the machine began gently pitching. As he gained more confidence, it bobbed more steeply up and down and side to side.
When the door opened Carl walked down the stairs grinning as only a happy kid can. Whoa! he said.
The session included guiding the plane between two big mountains, a touch-and-go landing and being re-fueled by a tanker.
His favorite part of all: I made it go upside down with their permission but I pulled it off, he said. I didnt crash.