10/30/2014

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Boy with leukemia earns his pilot wings in a day

Boy with leukemia earns his pilot wings in a day
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - U.S. Air Force pilots work for years to earn their wings. But for one special local boy, all it took was a single day.

Eleven-year-old Carl Hornbeak-Hess is a kid with a wish.

"I wanted to do something unique that no one has chosen before," he says.

He's also a history buff and an old soul at heart. So when the Make-A-Wish Foundation said he could do anything - be anyone - he knew exactly what to say.

"Be a World War II pilot who's stationed in Pearl Harbor, who is shot down and has to survive with only the things of a World War II pilot," says Carl's stepfather, James Sullivan.

It won't be easy training - but nothing's impossible when you've got guts.

"Carl was diagnosed in June 2011. With ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia)," says Sullivan.

Carl has 2½ years of treatment down - with two years still to go. But on Sunday it wasn't about cancer - it's about a mission. His Objective A - co-pilot a c-17 Air Force jet simulator over Hawaii.

He deals with all the ups and downs - even makes an emergency landing when he loses power in the engines.

"I made it go upside down. Without permission - just sphhh," says Carl.

Objective B was to complete parachute training, then brave the elements.

"I'm going to go out in the woods over there and survive," he says.

He makes a fort, builds a fire, even gets some rest after a long hard day.

"It's not that bad," he says.

So what's next for Carl?

"Well, it's a big secret. I can't say," he demurs.

But KOMO News will declassify the info for you - Carl headed to Hawaii to see Pearl Harbor himself and fulfill his dream of coming face-to-face with history.
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