180th Fighter Wing names a Pilot for a Day
By Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes, 180th Fighter Wing
/ Published May 27, 2016
SWANTON, Ohio -- Ashleigh Hunt, a 22 year-old Ohio resident diagnosed with osteosarcoma, was commissioned as an honorary 2nd Lt. in the Ohio Air National Guard during the first-ever Pilot for a Day event May 26, at the 180th Fighter Wing.
The Pilot for a Day program is a way for the 180FW to support the local community by providing a fun-filled day for children and young adults living with chronic or life-threatening disease or illness.
During the event, she also launched an F-16 Fighting Falcon, received a tour of the base facilities, and experienced basic pilot survival and parachute training.
"I didn't really know what to expect," Hunt said. "It was a huge surprise and more than I ever could have expected."
Hunt has been battling osteosarcoma since the age of 19. After she was diagnosed, her and her family began writing a bucket list. Hunt said she always enjoyed watching fighter jets growing up and her mom suggested flying in an F-16 for her list. Her health didn't allow for her to fly in an F-16, but when the Airmen of the 180FW heard about her story, they wanted to help give her and her family a day to remember.
"It's not every day that I get to do something like this," said Maj. Brian Cherolis, an F-16 pilot assigned to the 180FW who lead the event. "I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact for them."
"I don't even have words for it," said Jodi Rupp, Hunt's mother "It's amazing how people have opened themselves up to helping her out and making her life great."
Hunt said she the next items on her bucket list include visiting Chicago, New York and Europe, as well as an extensive list of concerts she hopes to see this summer.