In October 2012, 42 youths from the Down Syndrome Association of Jaén visited the Airbus Military site at San Pablo in Seville. This event, funded and organised by EADS and ASF Spain (Aviation Without Borders) is part of the ‘Smiling Wings’ programme. Since 1999, the initiative has been working to bring a smile to the faces of young people with disabilities, chronic illnesses or facing long hospitalisation, brightening up their lives through the world of aviation.
Before starting their busy day, the eager participants were given a company uniform consisting of a t-shirt, cap and official pass, so that they felt part of the team. Once they were ready, the day began with an intensive course in aviation and a flight over Toulouse and Barcelona on board flight simulators of the CN235 and C295, two popular transport aircraft.
The youths also experimented with night vision goggles, visited different zones of the aircraft, and made personalised bracelets using electrical components. Thanks to the enthusiasm and effort of the more than 40 employees at Airbus Military who volunteered to lend a hand, the youths discovered the world of aeronautics. There was still one last surprise in store: after having a go at aircraft marshalling they were given a tour of the A400M. “I can’t believe it, what a thrill!” said Estefanía, one of the younger participants, when she laid eyes on the plane. “I’ve had such a great time and I’m so happy to be here with everyone – we’ve done so many things,” she concluded, with a smile that was borne aloft by EADS and ASF Spain through ‘Smiling Wings’.