Retiring American Airlines Pilot Gives His Wings to Toddler With Down Syndrome to Honor Final Flight

October 15, 2019 Updated: October 15, 2019

An American Airlines pilot brought his time in the air to a close in the sweetest way when he gave his wings to a Florida toddler with Down syndrome after his final flight.

Earlier this month Captain Joe Weis passed on his wings to Hezekiah “Ki” Alsedek, 2, of Ocala, who was making his first flight ever on a Miami-bound plane.

Weis’s 35-year-career with the airline happened to be coming to a close, so he decided to make Ki’s first flight a memorable one before he retired.

While Ki and his mother, Sarah Tamar Klitenick, were on board the flight from Madrid, they discovered they were sitting in the same row as Weis’s wife.

That’s when they made a special arrangement for Ki to join the pilot in the cockpit to receive something very special from Weis.

Ross Feinstein, spokesperson for American Airlines, told USA TODAY: “When Captain Weis found out his last flight at American was Ki’s first flight, he wanted to pass along his wings to a future generation.”

Feinstein told the news outlet Weis had always enjoyed interacting with his passengers ever since he started his career with the airline in March 1985.

In a Facebook post, the pilot uploaded a heartwarming video of himself pinning his wings on Ki’s shirt after the plane arrived at Miami International Airport.

Pilots wings
A pilot (not the one in this story) hands over his “wings” and identity card in a file photo. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

The pair even high-five each other sharing the special moment.

“My last flight was very special for many reasons. Wendy was sitting in a row with Ki and his mom back from Madrid. She found out that this was his first flight,” Weis wrote.

“Since it was my last and his first we decided to make it special. So I pinned my AA Captain wings on him after we landed in Miami. I will remember this always. Thanks to my first officer Kent Thorpe for filming everything.”

His mother can be seen beaming in the background of the footage.

“It’s so amazing what he did. The whole thing was so cool,” Klitenick told the Orlando Sentinel. “With all the negative things going on in the world, it’s just nice when people do things that are unbelievably nice.”

She added that Ki hasn’t stopped talking about the moment and his friend “Captain Joe” ever since.

American Airlines told the news outlet in a statement: “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.”

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