My dream as a child was to become a Pilot. That's what I went off to college to do with my life and I earned my Pilot Certificate back in 2001. Life has a funny way of taking some different turns and I have unfortunately been out of the cockpit for about 12 years. This year as a reward to myself for completing my master’s degree, I decided do what I love again. After a few flights this summer, I regained my currency and it is so amazing to be back in the air again. I've started sharing the experience and try to take a lot my friends and family on flights. Most had never been in small planes but almost everyone had a great time (minus that one guy who almost made a mess of the cockpit so I know carry air sickness bags!).
Another thing I love in life (and Julie as well) are animals. We have three awesome cats, and they live quite the life in our household. Since we can’t provide a great home for all the animals out there, we tend to focus most of our volunteer/charity work on pet rescue/adoption organizations.
This summer while getting back into the air I heard about a program called Pilots N Paws, which is a nonprofit organization that connects pilots with various shelters throughout the country. Most of the transports involve animals that have been injured and need medical attention, are part of an evacuation (natural disasters, etc.) or have been adopted by a family that is quite a distance away. Flying the animals can make a huge difference compared to driving hours to remote areas. I signed up to see how I could be involved.
This week I saw a post on the boards for a handful of puppies and kittens that needed to get to their foster homes in the Washington, D.C. area. I volunteered and was selected for my first official mission and of course figured Julie would want to be my co-pilot. Today we departed Maryland for an airport near the Virginia/North Carolina border. Once there, we met two cute little puppies and two kitties crated up and ready to go. We got them situated in the plane and they actually did quite well on the flight back towards the D.C. area. Once on the ground in Northern Virginia, the adoption center representative pulled right up to the plane to help unload the animals into her van to continue their trip to new homes.
The representatives were all super appreciative and we found the experience to be extremely rewarding and a win-win. I'm always looking for a reason to fly and not only does this give us a great reason to do so, we are doing some good in the process. We hope this will be the first of many Pilots N Paws flights.