Engaged for Takeoff

Boeing test pilot answered 6th grade student's letter

January 23, 2018 in Defense, Community

When Gage B. received his writing assignment for Ms. Henricksen’s 6th grade class at Excelsior Middle School, he decided to write a letter to The Boeing Company in St. Louis, Mo.  Gage wanted to tell Boeing about his lifelong dream to someday fly Boeing fighter jets.  He never dreamed putting pencil to paper would result in what happened next.

Gage’s words caught the attention of Boeing T-X test pilot, Steve “Bull” Schmidt.

“It kinda made me want to reach out to him,” Schmidt said. “And say, hey, I was just like you. So if you keep at it and work hard, you too can be a future fighter pilot and realize your dreams.”

Schmidt sent Gage a gift package, filled with fighter jet souvenirs. He also recorded an in-flight message to Gage on video from a camera in the cockpit of a Boeing T-X aircraft during a test flight.

“At first, I said, nope, I’m dreaming. It’s fake,” Gage recalled. “Then I watched it ten more times, and said, it’s real.”

The biggest surprise involved Schmidt traveling to Gage’s school in Marion, Iowa to surprise the young man and answer the questions from Gage’s letter in person.  Gage’s class received a brief lesson about the new Boeing T-X advanced training system, and Gage tried on a real life fighter pilot flight suit.  Schmidt encouraged the 6th grade class to continue to work hard in school and follow their dreams ‒ like Gage is doing with his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.

Watch the video above to see the moment of surprise.

Boeing test pilot, Steve “Bull” Schmidt, poses with Gage B. and his 6th grade class at Excelsior Middle School in Marion, Iowa. Bull surprised Gage with a visit after the young man wrote a letter expressing his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.