Many children go to Pacoima, California once a year to go through a travel simulation to get children with autism ready to take an airplane to travel. The event is called Open Sky for Autism created by Talaat Captan.

Talaat owns Air- Hollywood which is an aviation themed production sound stage and studio in Pacoima. The facility is popular for filmmakers and commercial productions. Every April, during Autism Awareness month Talaat opens the doors to help children with Autism. The program was created to help get rid of any fears children with autism may have on flying.

Talaat said that he got the idea for the program five years ago. He watched a child and his parents struggle going through Los Angeles International Airport. He told Steve Gregory of KFI that he later found out the boy had autism and wanted to do something about it. He began to work with the non-profit advocacy group REACH and was able to get actual commercial pilots and flight attendants to volunteer. The TSA also sends in a team to give participants a real experience of going through security screening.

Photo Courtesy of LA Parent

TSA also hands parents cards with information on preparing for a security screening for a child with special needs. They tell parents to call the number (855-787-2227) at least 72 hours in advance  You’ll have to provide ticket and departure information. From there, a TSA officer will meet you at a designated spot and escort your family through the screening process.

Open Sky for Autism is free to participants, but a $25 refundable deposit is required to ensure attendance. Free lunch and beverages are provided.

After landing, everyone walks off to a cockpit set where kids can interact with a real commercial pilot, play with the knobs and buttons, and take pictures.

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