For the past 35 years, Joseph Weis has been a pilot, that’s why he reflected on the interesting places he’s traveled and the connections he’s made with his passengers as he prepared to retire.
And he decided he wanted to pass on his legacy to the next generation, on his final American Airlines flight from Madrid, Spain to Miami, Florida,— and found a beautiful way to do so while on the flight!
It all started with a 2-year-old with Down syndrome, whose name is Hezekiah “Ki” Alsedek. Ki was making the journey home after taking his first international flight with his mom Sarah Tamar Klitenick. They were flying standby and ended up in the very back of the plane next to Joseph’s wife, who’s named Wendy!
Throughout the journey, Sarah and Wendy chatted, which was when Sarah learned about Joe’s retirement and the traditional water salute he would receive after they landed.
Joseph left the cockpit and came to sit next to her, halfway through their journey, much to Sarah’s surprise. The woman realized Wendy must have told him about Ki, and incredibly he’d selected the little boy as his “replacement.” He asked Ki to come see him after the flight, and in that way he could ceremoniously pass his wings to the little boy.
“We were all in tears over the monumental statement!” Sarah said. So of course, after they landed, the mother and son made their way to the cockpit.
The captain removes the metal wings from his uniform and pins them on Ki’s shirt, in a video recorded by another crew member.
Sarah said she and Ki felt more than touched after being included in Joe’s special day.
“The level of servitude it takes to give 35 years to a company is beyond my grasp as I only turn 35 years old this November,” she said. “When I think of how many people he brought together for all their special occasions … only with a captain to fly the plane could it happen.”
Sarah said Ki still talks about “Captain Joe” and wears the wings everywhere he goes now that they’re home. Obviously, his first flight made an impression! We have to thank Joseph, for making his last day in the air so special for this family, and congratulations on completing such a successful career!
By clicking on the video below, watch Ki receive Joseph’s wings.
When #AATeam Capt. Joe Weis found out his retirement flight was Ki's FIRST trip, he gave him the greatest gift…
Posted by American Airlines on Sunday, October 13, 2019