The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Wings for All

Earlier this year I was brought in on a program which is probably the most meaningful project I have worked on to date.  Wings for All is a bi-annual event at Dulles which seeks to teach and acclimate individuals with autism and other special needs to commercial air travel.

This simulated event is real and authentic in every way except that the aircraft does not push back and take flight.  Participants begin by arriving at the airport and checking in at a United ticket counter, where they check their bags and are given real boarding passes.  Next, they proceed through a TSA security checkpoint, where they are actually screened.  From here, participants must navigate the airport to their gate.  At the gate, passengers (participants) board the Boeing 777 by assigned group number, stow their carry-ons, and prepare to take flight.  Cabin crew give the safety briefing, the pilot speaks over the intercom, everyone buckles in, and the lights turn off for departure.  "In flight," the cabin crew provide refreshments.  Soon it is time to "arrive;" the seatbelt light chimes and turns on again, the pilot announces the weather, and soon the aircraft "lands" and passengers deplane.  Finally, participants proceed to baggage claim to pick up their luggage from the carousel, before luncheon stopping by the luncheon to conclude the morning.

The Wings for All program is a fantastic opportunity for anyone with special needs who wants practice with commercial air travel in a controlled setting with guidance as needed.  It doesn't matter if you've flown 100 times, or never at all, because it allows participants to experience everything about an airline flight except for movement of the aircraft.  It is also beneficial to those in the aviation industry because it provides real world practice with aiding those with special needs, in addition to training and awareness sessions that are provided leading up to each event.

In the Spring Wings for All session, I was called upon to film the event, producing the video below.  This past weekend I also filmed the Fall session, and I will soon be updating the promo video as requested, and creating a 30 - 60 second spot for Wings for All to be further promoted.

Wings for All events can be found at other airports, including locally at DCA and BWI.  At Dulles, Wings for All is organized by The ARC of Northern Virginia in partnership with The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and sponsored by United Airlines and Marketplace Development, among others.

This was also my first foray into videography, which I currently will only undertake for select projects for longstanding previous photography clients.

I am so fortunate to have continued involvement with this rewarding program!