Imagine soaring far above the ground, racing over land and sea, headed toward a long-loved destination where you made the memories of a lifetime.
This may sound like a “life flashing before your eyes” experience as you shuffle off your mortal coil—but no. Rather, it’s a joyful, celebratory journey that can be created for you, or a loved one, when age or illness is keeping you from being able to travel one more time to a place you love. This thanks to the soaring spirits behind A Flight To Remember Foundation and the simple magic of drones outfitted with live-feed cameras.
A Flight to Remember founder Tom Davis had been flying drones recreationally for about four years when the idea for Flight to Remember (formerly called Aerial Anthropology) first occurred to him. A friend’s six-year-old relative was battling cancer, and was sad to be missing a class field trip. “All of a sudden it clicked,” said Davis in an interview for The Drive:
“I said we could take her on the field trip, virtually, and she’d be able to see all her friends, hear what was going on… while she watched safely from her hospital room. The concept was something I couldn’t stop thinking about.”
From there, Davis, a software executive, contacted hospices in his area, offering his services to “virtually transport patients to a meaningful place via live stream” as a type of palliative care. The Hospice of the Western Reserve of Cleveland in Ohio was the first to step forward in 2016, and together, Davis and the hospice engineered experiences for people longing to see home. One client was born in Wales, and Davis arranged for a pilot in Wales to capture the coastline, the village of Tondu, the ruins of Ogmore castle, and a local pub.
David remembers his first flight for a hospice client, for which an old woman had gathered three generations to join her in seeing a flight of her childhood neighborhood. “We flew over the beach, the boat docks, and via cell phone they directed me to find a hill where she used to go sledding in the winter as a young girl,” says Davis. “It was a surreal experience. It was very positive and yet very emotional. The patient and the family couldn’t believe they were seeing this place that meant so much to them,” said Davis. “Everyone was laughing and crying.” Sounds like a flight to remember, indeed.
To learn more about drone flights, head to A Flight To Remember Foundation.
Drone video by David posted on Vimeo