About Us: Our Mission
Challenge Air was created to change the perception of children with special needs through the gift flight. Since 1993, we have been committed to making a difference in the lives of children with special needs. With a network of 3,500 volunteers nationwide, we continue to grow through events called Fly Days.
By eliminating the belief that they are limited, the children can grow to their full potential. They are given the opportunity to find courage within themselves and build in areas where they lack self-esteem. Challenge Air provides an unforgettable growing experience that opens the door to possibilities while allowing the children to see if they can fly a plane they can do anything.
Challenge Air for Kids & Friends, Inc., exists to build confidence and self-esteem in children and youth with special needs through the gift of flight.
1) To improve the quality of life for children/youth and families with special needs
2) Arouse children/youth with special needs to be excited about learning and inspired about their future
3) Educate children/youth about the aviation industry and encourage them to consider occupational roles other than the customary ones to which they are generally directed
4) Involve and promote civic and community engagement
5) Create an environment for peer interaction for children/youth with special needs.
6) Promote local organizational resources to families with special needs.
How Can I Bring Challenge Air To My Community?
First, please review our mission and program goals to find out if your city is a fit for our qualifications.
Second, if you believe your organization or program satisfies our goals, you should then submit a complete application to be considered. Applications should detail out why you feel the Challenge Air program is a good fit for your city.
In order to be considered for a “Fly Day” program in your city, applications will be reviewed bi-annually on April 1st (for events to be held during the 1st and 2nd quarters of the following year) and October 1st (for events to be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of the following year). Each locales application will be submitted to the Challenge Air programs committee and reviewed.
Once you are chosen as a select city, the terms will be formalized in a letter of understanding. The letter of understanding will outline Challenge Air’s expectations for a “Fly Day” and details Challenge Air’s commitment to your programs success.
If you have questions concerning your particular qualifications and want to submit a letter of inquiry prior to preparing an application, you may do so. Any letter of inquiry should include a summary of your request and the impact it could have on the people served. After reviewing the letter, Challenge Air staff can assess whether or not your organization should continue the application process based on your qualifications. Preliminary meetings are discouraged.
Thank you in advance for your interest in our program!
Please submit all applications to:
Attn: Programs Committee
8001 Lemmon Avenue Suite 280
Dallas, Texas 75209
Our Founder – Rick Amber June 17, 1944 – May 3, 1997
Rick Amber founded Challenge Air in 1993 after overcoming his disability through several activities. He became a quadriplegic in 1971 when his jet crashed during a landing attempt on a naval aircraft carrier.
After competing in and winning the U.S. Open National Wheelchair Tennis Championship, he wanted to use his accomplishments to encourage children to overcome their own disabilities. That’s when Amber decided to get back to his true passion – flying.
The idea of Challenge Air took off after Amber invited a group of physically challenged children on a flight over the Addison skyline. He realized that overcoming his disability helped the kids change their perception about disability.
The only person that is limited is one with a limited mind. Once that barrier is broken, one’s true potential can be reached. Amber passed away in 1997 after battling cancer, but his legacy and impact live on through Challenge Air.
“The human spirit prevails over any physical or mental obstacle. After a day with Challenge Air, no height seems unreachable…all it takes is desire and truly, the sky is the limit!” – Rick Amber