United Airlines hosts 'Freedom Flight' for disadvantaged children to celebrate Juneteenth

United Airlines filled a Boeing 737 aircraft Thursday with children from Houston’s disadvantaged community.

For the airline’s "Freedom Flight," United flew the high school students around Texas for about 90 minutes to celebrate Juneteenth. For many of the children, it was their first time ever being on an airplane.

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"I try not to think about it too much," said Alexis Abile, a student before takeoff. "I don’t want to get too nervous. I’m sure I’ll be fine."

The plane departed from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport and flew over Galveston, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, before returning to Houston.

"It’s my first time flying," said Juan Reyes, a student. "I’m really excited. I was nervous at first. [However], seeing as I’m in the hands of United, I have nothing to worry about."


The flight was created to inspire students to consider a career in aviation. The pilots and flight attendants for the flight were all Black, in celebration of Juneteenth.

"Growing up, if you’re not exposed to things, or you don’t see the possibility, then how do you know what’s possible?" said Helon Hammond, Managing Technology Director at United and President of BEACON.

As the aircraft flew around Texas Thursday afternoon, radio host KG Smooth read the history of Juneteenth over the plane’s speaker.

"It means a lot to be participating in this," said Langston Adams, a student. "It’s just different. A lot of kids don’t get this opportunity."


In addition, several pilots were onboard sitting next to children. Many of them were answering questions and teaching kids about aviation.

"When I was 5-years-old, the first time I got on a flight, it was an exhilarating feeling," said United Airlines Pilot Xavier Samuels. "We want to expose to them that life is limitless for them. We know this is an opportunity for them to reach for whatever they want to do."

The first time flyers received wings to commemorate their flight.  Some of the students are now expressing interest in pursuing and career in aviation.

"It gives us more encouragement that you really can do anything you want," said Yan Choudj.