Cancer Survivor Flight Camp Arrives in Helena

July 17, 2019

Four fighters and survivors of cancer arrived at the Helena Regional Airport Tuesday for a camp that is teaching them to fly.

They came in four DA-20 Diamond Eclipse aircraft that were flown by Summit Aviation flight instructors out of Bozeman as part of the sixth annual Cancer Survivor Flight Camp, which brings cancer survivors to Montana for flight instruction, tours and camaraderie.

Ben Walton, the owner of Summit Aviation, said the idea for the camp came about six years ago. He reached out to Eagle Mount Bozeman, a nonprofit organization, and the idea quickly became a reality.

"There are four (participants) every year," Walton said.

The campers come from all over the United States.

One participant, Chelsea Espinoza from Ronan, said the camp held special meaning after she beat a brain tumor.

After fighting cancer, Espinoza said, "You're a different person." But the thrill of flying is still something that brings joy.

"It's amazing," Espinoza said.

Flight instructors say they love the experience of teaching during the flight camp. Evan Schwarzenbach, a Summit Aviation instructor, said he enjoys the positive energy the campers bring to the air.

"We can give someone the experience of flying," Schwarzenbach said.


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