Delta showed interest in the design after receiving a hand-drawn sketch from the boy.
Benjamin Jensen—an eight-year-old from Ogden, Utah—came up with a genius new way to locate missing airplanes while watching "Why Planes Disappear" on TV. His thought: "We could have a system that has neon balloons that rise up to the surface when the plane crashes in the sea—and there would be stones at the bottom so they would stay there." He continues to explain that the balloons would be made of reinforced rubber giving them the ability to withstand pressure and keep it from floating right up into the air. An RF transmitter would be located inside the balloon for easy finding.
Jensen is the son of two Air Force veterans, both of who were not surprised with his idea given their son's lifelong interest in aviation and military airplane design. He went ahead and drew a sketch of said design and sent it to Delta CEO Richard Anderson. Here comes the plot twist: Delta loved the idea. John Laughter—the airline's senior vice president of safety, security, and compliance—sent Jensen a package with two model airplanes, some Delta swag, and a note. "I work with many Delta people, The Federal Aviation Administration, and airplane manufactures to solve problems such as airline tracking in an emergency," he said. "There are lots of experts thinking about ideas just like you sent us. I will make sure to share your plans with them!"
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.