In today's Marvel® franchise-machine world we see movie after movie featuring characters with superpowers saving the country or universe from the villain of the day. Many people wish they had these powers themselves, but what many people fail to remember is that most of these heroes are not born with their powers, they gain them through some experiment or by accident, and it's what they choose to do with them that makes them heroes.
Brian Roberson, a Supervisory Construction Representative in Planning and Project Management's Construction Division at Architect of the Capitol, wasn't born with superpowers, but growing up he always loved planes. When he was 27, he learned to fly and eventually became an instrument-rated pilot. When compared to a visual-rated pilot, it means he can fly through the clouds — just like a superhero. It's not Roberson's ability to fly, but what he does with this talent that makes him a superhero in the eyes of those he helps and others who know what he does.
Roberson volunteers for an organization called Angel Flight Soars, one of several organizations that work together to transport burn patients, cancer patients and others with appointments at special treatment centers across the country. When a pilot plans a trip, they can look online and check the list of missions needing a pilot. "Someone in New York could need to get to Houston and that might be two or three legs, with different pilots requiring coordination with other Angel Flight organizations," Roberson states. These three-hour flights can save people from having to take a 12-hour car ride, both to and from their destination.
Before joining the Architect of the Capitol in 2016, Roberson had a general contracting business. In 2014, he purchased a four-seat Cirrus SR20 plane. "Because I'd been fortunate in business, I wanted to give back and part of that was learning about the Angel Flight community," Roberson said. "Hearing stories about children needing help drove me to start doing it. Their parents can't afford to pay for their child to travel to these special centers. The Angel Flight pilots are taking a small portion of stress away from these families and maybe giving a young child an adventure."
Whenever Roberson heads back home to Birmingham, Alabama, he checks the mission list to see how he can help and, to date, has completed nearly 30 missions, traveling from New York to Texas, and all places in between. Roberson has also completed multiple legs of one mission so that the patient didn't have to land and then wait, maybe hours, for another pilot to help them finish their journey. "It's really nothing to go the extra 30 minutes or hour to drop someone off."
Roberson's ability to fly and help organizations like Angel Flight Soars is an example to all who wish for superpowers of their own. Each one of us has the ability to learn a new skill that we are passionate about and then use that gift in ways that can help others. No matter how small that contribution may seem to us, it can make all the difference to someone in need — especially if you're also able to make a five-year-old feel like he can fly through the clouds — just like his favorite superhero.