Posted by: harrisonjones | October 4, 2011

VIPs and more important people

Occasionally, in our life, we have the opportunity to meet someone deemed important or famous; a celebrity of great renown, or a superstar with great ability or talent. My career as a pilot afforded me many such opportunities and sometimes I was impressed, but more often I was not. You never know who is going to show up on a flight. I usually made a note in my logbook when we had VIPs on board. Sometimes movie stars want to remain incognito, and other times they want to entertain the entire cabin. Burt Reynolds is a friendly guy and Jerry Clower, the country comedian, is always on no matter where he is. The late Leslie Nielsen was also a full time entertainer. Sometimes they’re not acting; it’s just who they are. 

I can say that I have shared a cockpit with Astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. On separate occasions they were booked on my flights and both were kind enough to stop by the flight deck and introduce themselves. Classy people who didn’t want to talk about themselves; but were more interested in my airplane. Although, John Glenn was very enthusiastic about an Aero Commander he had just checked out in. An aviator through and through.  

There is a long list of VIPs in my logbook, including President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosylyn Carter. This was after he left office, but they were accompanied by a contingent of Secret Service agents. The stack of gun toting permits with the flight plan was impressive. Few people know that a Secret Service agent is the only government official who has access to the cockpit at any time without prior notice. 

After blathering for a few paragraphs, let me get to the point. Yesterday I met someone who truly impressed me. I had the honor and privilege to visit with an amazing young man named Cameron Horner. You might not know Cameron, but if you did you would be impressed too. Cameron represents everything that is good and everything that is right about American youth. As a Civil Air Patrol volunteer, Cameron serves with the Burlington, North Carolina Squadron and has attained the impressive rank of Cadet Captain and Squadron Commander. Grab a pencil and write down all the 18 year olds you know who are willing to devote so much of their time to community service. Didn’t take long, did it? 

On August 11, Cameron suffered a diving accident that resulted in spinal injury. He was transported from his home in North Carolina to Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta where he remains to fight his battle with the support of his friends from a distance. His mom, Joanna has dropped everything to be by his side, while his dad juggles work schedules between visits. We all know that we will face adversity in our lives, but to see an 18 year old face a challenge with such strength and determination is a blessing I will long remember. Cameron is blessed with parents who have taught him to, “Do the right thing,” and that’s exactly what he’s doing. The smile on his face and the character and integrity that shines through, along with the strong Christian faith that guides his family, tells me that he will compete and he will win. Don’t talk to me about million dollar superstars. I’m talking about the real thing here. He will win.  

I want to thank Cameron and his mom for allowing Diane and I to visit. I just spent a weekend standing at a book signing table and listening to people talk about themselves incessantly. That’s okay, occasionally it’s interesting. The refreshing thing about our time with Cameron was that he didn’t talk about himself. He asked about our family with true interest. If that reminds you of something you’ve read recently, you can back up a few paragraphs and refer to John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. I seldom meet anyone who reminds me of those gentlemen, but Cameron does. I bet John and Neil were influenced by wonderful parents also.  

I wanted to share this with you because it is rare that I’m truly impressed by someone and it was an honor I will remember. Follow Cameron on Facebook at “Prayers for Cameron Horner.” You can also follow at

You can click on Cameron’s name in my blogroll at the right to reach his page anytime. 

Prayers are the only request by the Horner Family, but words of encouragement and other offerings of support can be sent to the following: 


Attn: Cameron Horner Benefit Fund

PO Box 919

Graham, NC 27253


Cameron Horner                                                   

Shepherd Center                                                    

Room 525                                                                       

2020 Peachtree Rd. Northeast                             

Atlanta, Ga. 30309-1465                                                                


  1. Sounds like a remarkable young man who will success no matter the obstacles put in his path. Thank you for sharing his story.

    • Jeanne, I normally consider myself a good judge of character, although I don’t know if I could justify that assertion, but it would take a far better writer than me to describe this incredible young man and his assault on adversity. As a parent, you can imagine dropping everything and devoting 24/7 as his mom is doing.

  2. Thank-you from Cameron’s mom for the honor you have given him. I was able to get on your website, it was blocked from Shepherd Ctr. My daughter read the blog over the phone and I smiled with delight and was very humbled. I mentioned to Cameron that you wrote a blog about him and he could not imagine what you could say. A friend signed a guest book for Cameron when he was first taken to the hospital and described Cameron has always have much humility. Cameron used to ask me when he was younger, “what is my gift” I knew, but it is one of gifts that was hard to put into words for a young boy, but I knew it would show up, and his excellent Character and the way he cared for others would be used for greatness. Cameron said a lot about himself when he dictated to me only days after his accident, one of things he stated was “I must put God first.” For God to use him to reach others, he also stated that to experience this, it would be worth it, as parents we would never want our son to experience this kind of life change, I know the people Cameron has prayed for in his life, and truly they have been looking at the Faith of Cameron that sustains him even in this, and they are looking at that Faith and wondering,what would I do? His Faith is real because his God is real, and Cameron Praised God and quoted the scripture when his was being pulled out of the water “by His Stripes I am Healed.” I know Cameron will win this and God will prosper him. Even this weekend he went camping with staff from Shepherd, he is going to push forward. Joanna Horner

    • Joanna, true faith and belief are so hard for too many people to comprehend and adversity becomes an impossible task for them. In some ways adversity defines us and presents an opportunity to be inspirational to others. Cameron does have a gift and you are not the only one who recognizes it. Your comment above leads me to believe it is an inherited trait that God has blessed you both with. Your faith, our faith, will be rewarded and I’m convinced good things will happen. Our prayers and thoughts are with you. I’ll be signing at the air show this weekend. Tell Cameron I’ll be thinking of him and if he has a chance to watch the local news, he’ll see some cool airplanes. How about that, “Ride for Cameron,” in North Carolina. How cool is that?
      God Bless,

  3. I don’t know Cameron personally but I read about him on my page everyday. I thank you for the beautiful word you spoke of him. I feel honored to be able to follow the updates of Cameron. I am a member of “THE LAMB’S CHAPEL” and Preacher Brian speaks of him often. I know one day he’ll be at church and I will be able to see him in real life. Can’t wait!! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD! and CAMERON you are the Greatest teenager I’ve every heard about! GOD HAS BLESSED YOU ALL.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Francine. I know you will keep Cameron in your prayers. All my best to you and to the good work of “The Lambs Chapel.”

      God Bless,

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