Soaring over cancer
HELENA – Battling cancer is difficult. One way people fight the terrible illness is through positive memories, and a camp in Bozeman is helping cancer fighters and survivors throughout the state by taking flight to the friendly skies.  

Cancer Survivor Flight Camp is giving people a chance to fly in the air and keep living. This idea all started when Ben Walton’s mother and sister-in-law battled cancer. 

For Walton, watching his family suffer was hard, so he and a group of volunteers came together and created the flight camp to give them an experience they would never forget.  

“It’s been a really empowering experience not only for them but for us, because their excitement for life. They see life in a different way than we do. It’s contagious,” said Walton, President of Summit Aviation. 

Throughout the camp's six years, 24 people have taken flight. Right now, there are four young adults in the camp who are battling and surviving cancer. Summit Aviation teamed up with Eagle Mount Bozeman to teach cancer survivors and fighters how to navigate the skies.  

The group receives daily flight instructions, themed lunches, ground school instructions and private tours around tours around the airport. For Chelsea Espinoza, it’s not just chance to learn to fly,  it’s also a chance to be normal. 

“You form pretty strong bonds through cancer retreats and cancer and camps and it’s really good for everybody. It gets us kind of out of our shell, because you kind of feel like you are different person once you have cancer and you get a little bit of that normalcy back,” said Espinoza, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at 27.   

The group of cancer survivors and fighters will graduate camp at the end of the week, but not before flying through the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and the Capital City. Organizers of the camp say during treatment people miss out on a lot of opportunities and this gives them a chance to get them back in action. 

If you would like to donate to help continue this camp and continue to give this experience to survivors and fighters, you can click here. 

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