Cook Children's pilot becomes Captain America
FORT WORTH, Texas -- If the hero pose comes naturally to Capt. Mike Dall, you can understand why.
"Does this look too official?" he said with a laugh, hands at as waist and chest out.
Dall is a pilot for Cook Children's Hospital, flying sick kids in their fleet of air ambulances to Fort Worth for lifesaving care.
"We've gone to San Diego. We've gone to Tampa, I mean, we'll go anywhere in the U.S.," he said.
Often, the children are flying in a plane for the first time. The transport flights sometimes take place in the middle of the night, and Dall said it can be disorienting and scary for kids. So after he ensures the safety of flights, he said his next priority is the comfort of the kids.
"I just want to see them smile," he said.
That's where the hero work comes in. Two Halloweens ago, the father of four dressed up as Captain America. He bought a suit from a store online and created his own homemade shield with a trashcan lid and a custom paint job.
"My kids just loved it, and I thought, maybe if I could do this for my job, I could make some of these kids excited to go fly," Dall recalled.
He ran the idea by the medical staff at the hangar, and got the all-clear. Now, his costume is ready to go at a moment's notice.
He doesn't don his superhero gear for every patient, just for those that can benefit from a heroic boost. Kids have to be the right age to understand the costume, and he works with the medical staff to make sure a super visitor won't distract from care.
Dall doesn't know the names of the patients he transports or even what their medical condition is, but he doesn't forget the kids he encounters. He recalled the first time he surprised a child as Captain America and got a warm reception.
"He looks over there, and the look on his face was unbelievable," said Dall. "He was so excited to be meeting Captain America."
He said he does wear the costume while he's flying, so that he's ready to send them off in character as they head to the hospital for treatment.
"Who knows what they have going on in their body, but if they can forget about that for just a little bit, it's totally worth it," said Dall. "Even if my coworkers think I look weird in tights up there flying!"