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Family in Flight

Sean Julian got the flying fever when he was a teenager. After some excited encouragement by him and his brother, Sean’s parents won a dinner for two at a remote ranch that included a flight. When the family arrived at the airport to fly to the ranch, the pilot was a little surprised to learn that, instead of flying a couple for a romantic evening, he would be flying two kids. The pilot was a great sport and let the brothers rotate sitting in the front. The entire flying experience captured Sean’s heart and, on his 15th birthday, he asked his parents for flying lessons. Those lessons led to a career as a Captain on the Airbus 319 and 320 for United Airlines.

Today, Sean and his family love to fly. Every month they take a Saturday flight to Lufkin and have brunch at a local café, where the family is well-known and served airplane pancakes. This year, three of his kids asked to take friends on a flight instead of having birthday parties.

Sean started flying with AFSC in 2013 after learning about the organization through his niece, who was being flown for treatments. At the time, he didn’t have his own plane, so Sean borrowed a friend’s plane. He was grateful to have access to a plane when he wanted to fly missions. But, he was eager to have one of his own and recently purchased a V-Tail Bonanza. 

Sean’s goal is to fly a mission each month. During school holidays, Sean will bring one of his children with him on the flight. Although the youngest is not old enough to accompany him yet, the other three kiddos rotate as co-pilots on these special missions.  

“The kids always want to come with me on flights. They help break the ice for the passengers, and the passengers love having them along,” Sean said. “The kids always know who has the next turn to take an Angel Flight and don’t let me forget it.”

For many of our passengers, the flight itself is an exciting distraction from what they are going through. Combine a flight in a private plane with the energy with a lively 3-, 7- or 10-year-old who doesn’t know a stranger, and you’ve created a memorable flight. Sean enjoys watching his passengers’ worries evaporate as they chat with one of his children, who always fly with big hearts and infectious smiles.

The children enjoy going on Angel Flight missions with Sean because they like knowing that they can make someone’s day better. Sean has conversations with his kids about the purpose of their flights. He explains to them that sometimes people need help and flying Angel Flight missions is a very simple thing they can do to improve someone’s quality of life. 

Riding along on Angel Flight missions is a special and unique experience for Sean’s kids, and enjoyed by everyone involved. We thank Sean for his efforts as a pilot and for encouraging his children to be conscientious of others and to have giving hearts. 


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