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PILOT FOR DAY BOY, 5, REALIZES HIS MAKE A WISH TO REACH THE SKY.

Byline: Daily News

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE - The 411th Flight Test Squadron welcomed its newest ``pilot'' and his family last week.

Diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, 5-year-old Reilly Koyl got to sit in an F-22A Raptor fighter jet and ``fly'' a Raptor simulator on a visit sponsored by the Illinois chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation.

``Reilly really wants to be a pilot when he grows up, so this is really an exciting opportunity for him - it's a big day here at Edwards so we're so excited,'' said his mother, Mary Koyl.

The boy recently concluded three years of chemotherapy; his latest bone marrow and spinal tap results were normal, his mother said.

``We're really excited, so this kind of marks the start to a normal life for him and for us,'' Mary Kohl said.

Reilly visited Edwards in the Pilot for a Day program, in which children with life-threatening illnesses are given a chance to experience life as a pilot for a day, said Maj. John Teichert, 411th Flight Test Squadron assistant operations officer.

Teichert escorted Reilly, his parents, Chris and Mary, and younger brother Carter on their base tour. Reilly got to sit in and have his photo taken in an F-16B jet, which had his name on a special plaque. During lunch at Club Muroc's Pancho Barnes Pub, he played Teichert in ``Crud,'' a pool-table game popular with aircrews.

At the main base fire station, Reilly donned firefighting gear, then was taken with his family on a ride in a firetruck and was allowed to shoot the water gun.

At the base air traffic control tower, Reilly listened to controllers talk to aircrews. From the end of the runway, he watched planes perform landings and touch-and-go procedures.

At the 411th Flight Test Squadron, Reilly got two Raptor T-shirts, patches, and a special Raptor light. Reilly's father, Chris, was used as a stand-in to model flight gear.

In Edwards' Integrated Facility for Avionics Systems Test, Reilly sat in the Raptor simulator to perform a takeoff, a loop, some aileron rolls, and high-speed flight.

``He's into flight simulations and can fly them too,'' Chris Koyl said.

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1) Firefighters at Edwards Air Force Base help Reilly Kohl, 5, put on gear as part of the Pilot for a Day program.

(2) Reilly Kohl, 5, sits in an F-16 fighter jet during his visit to the base.

(3) Five-year-old Reilly Kohl is lifted into the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet by Maj. John Reichert during his visit to the base.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 27, 2006
Words:429
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