Miller Children’s Pediatric Rehab Patients Get a Birds Eye View of Long Beach

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Pediatric rehabilitation patients from Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach were given the opportunity of a lifetime to soar over Long Beach by co-piloting planes.

Sitting beside experienced and professional pilots, patients were taught basic safety rules and tricks of the piloting trade before throwing on headsets and setting off towards the sky.

“The best part of the whole day is seeing these kids and the smiles they have on their faces while flying,” said Erik Radcliffe, a pilot who has participated in the program for more than 10 years.

Patients were allowed to bring family members to enjoy this aviation experience alongside them. The journey proved to be just as rewarding for parents as it is for patients. After his first flight, Sebastian Romero, a Miller Children’s pediatric rehabilitation patient, exited the plane with his mom by his side, a smile on his face and an excitement to fly again.

“My favorite part was when the pilot would let us do a ‘roller coaster,’ where the plane moves up and down,” said Romero, 11.


The aerodynamic event is donated to patients of Miller Children’s through the Spirit of Suzi Discovery Program that was initiated 15 years ago and uses activities like flying to promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional abilities of children with special needs. The Pacific Jet Center has provided planes and licensed pilots for the program since its initial inception. All pilots donate their own time and skills to give patients detailed hands-on training, and many have participated for more than 10 years.

“Having the patients from Miller Children’s go flying gives them an opportunity to do something that most kids don’t get a chance to do. It gives them something really special,” said George Jones, founder of the Spirit of Suzi Discovery Program.

The program has helped more than 250 children to get a well-deserved break from the hospital setting and create irreplaceable memories in each patient’s life.

“Today is for our pediatric rehabilitation patients – to build confidence and self-esteem and to show them that they can do anything that they set their minds to,” said Mariana de Sena, C.T.R.S., recreational therapist, Miller Children’s. “The sky is the limit.”

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