MADISON, WI (WKOW) — Dozens of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities earned their wings Saturday by taking part in Wings For All. Event planners say the program allows those with disabilities and their families to rehearse for the challenges that come along with a flight, without actually flying anywhere.
First Officer Ian Barrett with Delta Airlines, who is a veteran of the program, said the practice time helps make flying a more comfortable experience for participants by giving them early exposure.
“The dress rehearsal, especially for special needs family members, is very important. It allows them to literally feel the different temperatures, the sounds, the sights — get that experience before they ever actually fly.”
During the three-hour program, families practice entering the airport, picking up their boarding passes, going through security and boarding the plane…a scary experience for some of them. Barrett says the practice helps nervous passengers familiarize themselves with airport procedures.
“Anxiety is the fear of the unknown, and this helps reduce the anxiety”.
Wings For All also teaches staff members how to accommodate people with special needs. It helps airport, airline and TSA professionals learn to interact with them in a structured, learning environment.
For families, the extra practice time could mean their loved ones may have a better travel experience.
“It’s not only just for the kids, but for the family members as well. They get a practice run of what it’s like to travel before they buy a ticket, have that stress and get to see that their kids can be successful”.