Air Force Balloon visits the Very Special Kids Camp at Somers

Air Force Balloon pilot SQNLDR Samuel Wright, Air Force Balloon ground crew FSGT Gavin Patching and Camp Leader Julia Psyhogios inside the Air Force Balloon inflate.

The Air Force Balloon successfully brought smiles to community members’ faces during its visit to the Very Special Kids Camp at Somers, Victoria from 23-24 February.

The Very Special Kids Camp at Somers is a twice-yearly weekend program which provides children living with life threatening illness, and their families, a weekend away. This program allows kids to just be kids while their parents and carers are connected to others in similar situations.

Flight Sergeant (FSGT) Gavin Patching, a ground crew member from the Air Force Balloon team said it was the first time the Air Force Balloon ever supported this special event and it was a fantastic experience.

“We provided three activities over the duration of the event and all participants were extremely grateful for this unique experience,” FSGT Patching said.

“On 23 February, we took over 60 kids, families and volunteers on a tethered flight and everyone absolutely loved it!

“We then displayed a cold inflation, which had the balloon on its side and being inflated with a fan, enabling the participants to walk inside the balloon.

“On 24 February, we put on a burner display which had the basket standing up with the burner attached, allowing each participant to have a go using the burner.”

Ms Julia Psyhogios, the Camp Leader of Very Special Kids Camp at Somers said the Balloon activities were greatly appreciated by all of the camp’s participants because of how inclusive they were.

“It didn’t matter whether you walked or rolled, everyone could participate in at least one of the activities,” Ms Psyhogios said.

“We kept the Air Force Balloon a secret until the first night of camp. Everyone was so excited, especially at breakfast the next day when we could see the inflated balloon peering over the tree line.

“I am incredibly grateful to have hosted the Air Force Balloon and its team at Very Special Kids Camp at Somers. It was an opportunity to bring something new and exciting to the camp and I think it was appreciated and enjoyed by all!

“We would definitely like to invite the Air Force Balloon to support this event again in the future.”