When 17-year-old Camron Mitchell left an F-4 Phantom model on the wing of a retired fighter pilot’s Mooney M20 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, he expected that the random act of kindness would stay just that: random.
But what can only be described as a harmonious series of events led to Camron receiving a phone call from that fighter pilot one month later.
The pair met on a bus at AirVenture after Camron, who dreams of flying in the Air Force, struck up a conversation with Greg, who was wearing a hat that identified him as a veteran Phantom pilot.
Greg had been hoping to see a Phantom at AirVenture, but after parting ways Camron browsed the schedule to find that no such plane would be appearing. So he decided to bring Greg the next best thing: his own scaled-down F-4 model. He located Greg’s Mooney, leaving behind the model and sending an anonymous text letting Greg know to look for the airplane.
The story of Camron’s altruism was picked up by AOPA, but at the time his identity was unknown.
After EAA staffer Serena Kamps, who knows Camron through church and volunteer work, read the story and thought it sounded like an awful lot like one she had heard from her friend, she printed it off and brought the news to his front door.
“I started by pointing to the guy in the picture and asked ‘Do you know that guy?’” Serena said. “He admitted he did, then quickly scanning the rest of the article his jaw dropped in disbelief. ‘I was the one that did this!’ he exclaimed. That look of shock mixed with pure amazement on his face was priceless!”
Serena decided that it was an act of kindness worth rewarding, and offered Camron his first Young Eagles flight, which he received one week later.
“I actually hadn’t flown in anything other than a 737 prior to that,” Camron said. “It was great. We got to fly over my house a little bit, I made a few turns out by Omro, and we came back.”
Not only did Serena give Camron his first Young Eagles flight, she also reached out to Greg and helped the pair reconnect on the telephone.
Greg said he was endlessly thankful adding that he had undergone a search of his own after AirVenture to thank Camron, to no avail.
“Bottom line is that the aviation community offered tremendous response, which led to us finding him,” Greg said.
During the course of their phone call, Greg said he not only had the chance to thank Camron, but to share some advice with him as well.
“Camron mentioned, quite off-the-cuff, that he would like to attend the [Air Force] Academy, but was quick to say that his grades were not all that sterling, to which I replied, ‘You can work on that,’ and added that many other factors would play a huge part in his application consideration,” he said. “I underscored that with mentioning community involvement, CAP, Young Eagles, scouting, church involvement, etc. I’m sure I probably overwhelmed him with a to-do list. I also enlisted the help of Serena and David [who work in EAA’s chapters office] in searching for an academy graduate in the Oshkosh area who might mentor Camron through the application process.”
Camron himself said he was blown away by the response that has come from one single, simple act.
“I was looking around at the schedules to see if there was an F-4 coming,” Camron said. “I’m a big Air Force enthusiast myself, so I just wanted to do a good thing for him.”