An eight-year old girl suffering from a serious blood disorder was able to put aside her personal struggles for a while on Tuesday. She was selected to be a Pilot for a Day at Naval Air Station-Kingsville.
Kyra Villarreal was nominated by Driscoll Children's Hospital, where she is a patient. According to her mother, Ella, Kyra was shy at first, especially with all the attention she was getting on Tuesday, but then she got the hang of it and really had a blast.
"Very girly, so to be around all this equipment and men and flight suits and, you know, took her back a little bit," Ella Villarreal said. "But now she's really comfortable, and you know. So she's used to the tea parties and princess parties, you know? So this kind of brought her tomboy out of her."
Kyra especially enjoyed the flight simulator, and she had family members on hand to help cheer her on.
Kyra's mother said they weren't sure how the flight suit was going to fit because Kyra is so petite, but once she put it on it fit perfectly.
Commanding Officer Captain Chris Misner said Kyra was a champ, and she asked lots of great questions.
"You see the smile on their faces and you can just see their attitude kind of change, especially when they get that flight suit on, that bag, and they put that flight suit on, they feel like part of the team," Misner said. "It's just, it's great. It's great for them and their families, and it's just a wonderful day to be on the team out here in Kingsville."
Captain Misner said the staff at NAS-Kingsville also get a lot out of the program. They take heart and build off of the momentum of champions like Kyra.
Kyra's mother wanted to thank Driscoll Children's Hospital and NAS-Kingsville, who made the day possible. She said that everyone was super helpful, and Kyra really enjoyed the experience.