As Captain Joe Weis’s time in the air came to a close, he passed on his pilot wings to a toddler with Down syndrome who was making his very first flight.
Weis, an American Airlines pilot who retired earlier this month after 35 years, made the final flight of his career on October 2.
While piloting the Miami-bound plane, Weis’s wife Wendy, who was also making the journey, discovered that Ki Klitenick, a 2-year-old boy sitting in her row, was on the return leg of his first-ever plane trip.
“My last flight was very special for many reasons,” Joe wrote on Facebook. “Since it was my last and his first we decided to make it special.”
Weis welcomed Ki and his mother into the cockpit, where he passed down his wings to the youngster, who showed his appreciation by smiling and saying “thank you” in sign language.
“I will remember this always,” Joe noted.
Ki’s mother, Sarah Tamar Klitenick was moved by Joe’s gesture.
“It’s so amazing what he did. The whole thing was so cool,” she told the Orlando Sentinel, noting that she and her son were returning home to Florida from a family reunion in Madrid at the time.
“With all the negative things going on in the world, it’s just nice when people do things that are unbelievably nice.”
“All of us at American are truly touched by the actions of Captain Joseph Weis. Captain Weis, who started with American in March 1985, always loved to engage with his passengers,” American Airlines said in a statement to the Orlando Sentinel.
“We are all proud of Captain Weis and wish him all the best on his retirement. We also look forward to welcoming Ki on future American flights, along with his wings,” they added.