Flying Vikings give children hope,
By Patrick Lacombe
The Belton Journal
The Flying Vikings held their Second Annual Car, Plane, and Bike Show last Saturday at the Draughon Miller Airport in Temple.
“We’re off to a good start this morning,” Flying Vikings Founder Paul Hansen said. “People are steadily filtering in, but the crowds get larger as the day goes on. We had a few people cancel because of the rain in Austin this morning, but the majority of Planes and cars made it.”
More than 100 cars entered in the show, ranging from a Studebaker Grand Turismo to newer cars like the Dodge Viper.
Several planes were on display, and the highlight of the day was the arrival of “Pecos Bill,” a P-51 Mustang fighter built in 1944.
Car show participants lined up to be photographed in front of the P-51 with their cars. Ford Mustang owners rallied for position to be photographed with the famed Mustang P-51 which helped Allied forces win WWII with its speed and exceptional maneuvering capabilities.
Hansen founded Flying Vikings out of a calling from the Lord. A native of New Jersey, Hansen has always wanted to become part of a larger mission and purpose for his life.
As a former financier, Hansen turned his passion of flying and helping children into a full time commitment. His flying experience extends over 20 years and more than 1,000 hours as pilot in command.
The Flying Vikings take children with special needs for flights in their planes, many of whom are terminally ill and have never taken a plane ride.
Hansen’s motto of “It’s all for the children” shines through as they visit with children and families that are often left out of public gatherings because of the child’s condition or affliction.
Kristina Rentz and her son J.J. were there for the show. Rentz’s son suffers from Cerebral palsy and has flown with the Vikings three times.
“When J.J. sees Paul (Hansen) he gets so excited,” Rentz said. “Whenever there is a Flying Viking event, we go to it wherever it’s held because my son enjoys them so much and his needs are more important. I love to see him so happy.”
Rentz explained that special needs children are not always welcome in public places or events.
“You can kind of understand kids being mean to those who are different, but it’s the parents who complain and we have to leave,” Rentz said.
Rentz mentioned one instance where they were asked to leave a Temple public swimming pool because J.J., who cannot speak, grunts and motions with his hands when he tries to express himself and it scares some people.
“We can come to these shows because we meet other kids with special needs and J.J. can enjoy himself and make new friends,” Rentz said. “I can’t thank Paul Hansen and the Flying Vikings enough for what they do to make our kids feel special.”
Soon after that, Hansen announced the winner of the raffle for a plane ride. J.J. was chosen to go up for his fourth flight that day. As his father helped lift him into the cockpit, J.J. smiled and settled into the co-pilot’s seat. His joy showed all in attendance what the Flying Vikings are all about.
These flights are costly for the aircraft owners since the children are flown free of charge. The Flying Vikings are a non-profit organization and depend on donations to help defray the high cost of these flights. If you are interested in helping these children realize their dream of flying, visit the Vikings website at www.flyingvikings.org to make a tax deductible donation.