Aviation, Flying, General Aviation, My Journey, Philanthropy, Published Articles, The News Hub

Thousands of Animals get a Second Chance at Life

Pilots volunteer time and resources to save animals doomed for euthanasia

(Originally posted on The News Hub, To see the full article w/ featured photos, please follow the link to The News Hub)

“On any given day – between our two shelters in town – we have 15,000 dogs available for adoption,” said the ground volunteer I was taking dogs from in Anderson, South Carolina. We were transporting just 13 of the 15,000 in Anderson – hoping and praying we could somehow make a difference and save them from the gas-chamber euthanasia so many of their fellow shelter mates would soon face.

I was volunteering alongside my pilot dad and animal-loving mom in conjunction with organizations like Animal Rescue Flights (ARF) and Pilots N’ Paws (PNP). We were tasked with transporting animals from shelters that had an overabundance of animals to “forever homes” and shelters in other areas of the country where the animals have a better chance of being adopted.

According to the ASPCA, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats are placed into animal shelters every year in the United States. In some areas, upwards of 70 percent of those placed into shelters are euthanized. On average, only 35 percent of those placed into shelters are adopted.

Organizations like PNP and ARF are helping change these statistics by moving animals from overcrowded shelters to high-demand shelters where they have a chance of being adopted or have already been adopted by a “forever family” – they just need a way to get there.

“I was looking for meaningful ways to share flying with others,” said volunteer pilot Roxanne Parker who fell in love with animal transports after her first trip with Blue – a giant but gentle Pit Bull – to his forever home. “He slept during most of the flight, and casually looked out the window as any airline passenger would when we took off and landed,” she said.

“A friend of mine flew for [PNP] and told me about how much he enjoyed it,” said volunteer pilot Ryan McCormick. So McCormick and some of his friends began flying missions throughout the southeast. McCormick has successfully completed 10 rescue flights and has saved more than 25 dogs in the process.

PNP and ARF are just two of many 501c3 charitable organizations that have successfully used air and ground transports to save thousands of animals from euthanasia. The two organizations have relocated more than 75,000 animals since 2008.

Pilots do not receive any compensation for their time, fuel or operating costs. However, if they coordinate their flight through a 501c3 organization, they are eligible for a tax deduction.

“I’m up to 1813 animals transported now,” said Jeff Luizza, volunteer pilot who said he is currently not flying for a specific rescue organization but has in the past. “I got into it as an offshoot of flying sick kids. The liability got to high for flying the kids and moved into the shelter animals about ten years ago,” he said.

“[I’ve] lost count of how many specific rescue missions I’ve done, but it’s quite a lot,” said John Hayes, flight instructor and volunteer pilot. He has joined Luizza on rescue flights since last fall. “We move quite a bit of dogs,” he said.

Dogs aren’t the only animals flown during these missions. Some of the animals transported by PNP and ARF over the years include: dogs, cats, pigs, reptiles, and rabbits – just to name a few. “Two weeks ago we flew a new born Chimpanzee,” said Luizza.

Hayes and Luizza fly Luizza’s Beechcraft KingAir turboprop on most of their rescue trips. “We’ve had upwards of 50 dogs on flights before, sometimes more than [one flight] in a weekend,” said Hayes.

“To see the faces on the people when we hand over the pups,” is the best part according to Luizza, “it’s fun.”

But transport organizations are key to only one portion of stopping injustices to animals. How can you help?

“Please spay or neuter your pets.” – Bob Barker

The largest way you can help is by adopting pets that are currently in shelters. Buying pets from pet stores or breeders is simply encouraging the overbreeding and overpopulation problem. There are animals in shelters waiting for homes that will be euthanized if they don’t find homes soon.

If you cannot adopt but have extra room, volunteer through a rescue organization to foster pets in your home for a period of time.

(Photo courtesy of Ryan McCormick)

If you can’t have pets in your home then donate food, supplies or money to a local shelter or rescue organization. Did you know that one of the largest things shelters need right now is clean towels and bleach?

If you don’t have the means to donate then volunteer your time! Animals in shelters would love your attention for the afternoon. “[Working] with animal transport organizations is a wonderful way to use your time and knowledge to help others,” said Parker.

“The pilots get all the credit in PNP, but all we do is fly, which as pilots is already something we love,” said McCormick. “It’s the people on the ground that schedule these trips, foster the dogs, and contact the pilots that deserve the credit. [It’s] been incredible to work with them.”

If you can’t volunteer then please educate others. Share this post with your friends. Support local rescue groups and promote what they’re doing in the community. Let your colleagues know what they can do to help. Speak up for those that don’t have a voice.


Aviation, Equality, Flying, General Aviation

Ramblings of insecurity

What a great narrative on the struggles of initial flight training – from a female perspective. Love it!!

The Bold Bluebonnet

Learning to fly is unlike anything I’ve learned before. For starters, there are no simple answers. Even the most basic questions elicit an outpouring of different answers.

Example: Where does one complete ground school?

Answers: Sporty’s, Embry-Riddle, King, the local community college, ASA pilot training manual, AOPA courses, the FAA website, an aviation ground school, an accelerated weekend course, a four year aviation program, a fast-track aviation program. And each comes with a conflicting opinion about if it will really prepare you with the knowledge you will need to know. Good luck!

Even filling out the simplest paperwork is confusing. I just figured out this week that my student pilot license number and medical certificate number is the same (I think). And don’t get me started on the training videos that throw arbitrary variables at you for velocity and lift, solve the equation in one breath and declare “see, it’s…

View original post 400 more words

Aviation, Flying, General Aviation

Public perception of general aviation different than reality

Sierra Charlie Alpha

To many in the general public there is an adversion to general aviation and small aircraft.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone about a general aviation aircraft? Many people will say they fly the airlines to get to their vacation or business destination, but never want to go near a Cessna, Piper or Beechcraft.

Thursday, March 5, there were two well-publicized accidents in U.S. aviation. First, Delta flight at LGA skidded off the runway into a fence in snowy conditions. Second, actor Harrison Ford crashed his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR (or a PT-22 Recruit) onto a fairway of Penmar Golf Course after an engine failure after take off from Santa Monica Municipal Airport. (A side note: Ryan was the company that developed Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.)

Harrison Ford’s 1942 Ryan crashed in California on March 5, 2015

Both accidents were obviously dangerous situations…

View original post 446 more words

Flying, My Journey

Ride-Along to VRB

Tuesday Morning I headed out to Daytona Beach to join my friend Christopher (ha! Chrissi & Christopher!) on a short trip to Vero Beach. We took off from DAB and joined the coastline for about an hour. Christopher introduced me to the G1000 for the first time–and I think after the first moment of cluelessness I may have fallen in love! Photo Jan 19, 11 36 13 AM The trip was nice — and courtesy of Christopher you can join us on our trip with this video! Here are a few photos that I took during our trip that I thought turned out pretty good!

       Photo Jan 19, 10 19 47 AM     The mighty C172

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Crossing Runway 34-16 on our way to 7RPhoto Jan 19, 10 47 41 AM Photo Jan 19, 11 48 02 AM Photo Jan 19, 11 48 52 AM

The beautiful Florida Coastline

Photo Jan 19, 1 33 34 PM Kennedy Space Center from the air!

Photo Jan 19, 1 17 57 PM There are a LOT of airports along the coastline!Photo Jan 19, 1 58 07 PM

Coming back into DAB, joining in the pattern on the downwindPhoto Jan 19, 1 59 06 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.21.58 PMPhoto Jan 19, 2 00 15 PM

Landing 7R

We’re heading back to VRB next week to tour the Piper Headquarters — but unfortunately I won’t be able to take pictures while I’m there as they have a no photography rule 😦

Till next time… Blue Skies!! 

Aviation, Flying, General Aviation

The Neighborhood Built Around a Runway

Friday night.. as most college students are “pre-gaming” for the frat party they’re planning to go to, my friend Taylor is doing something completely different.  She’s watching (& snapchatting) her weekly airshow in her backyard.

The Spruce Creek Fly-In is a residential community built around a 4000’ runway just a short hop from the Daytona International Speedway. Celebrities such as John Travolta, Teresa Earnhardt, and Tony Stewart have owned properties in the Creek. Roads and taxiways are one in the same & there’s always something to do!  The Creek is mainly retired pilots and folks that love aviation. Taylor is lucky enough to live there while she’s attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

I have some great friends in the Creek & even some that let me use their planes for photo shoots! Overall, this community is a fun place to visit & (I bet) an even “funner” place to live!

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Till next time… Blue Skies!!


Trip to Cedar Key (CDK)

Hello Again!

I’m back at that whole flying thing this week!!

(Warning: this post is photo-heavy!)
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Andy & I went back out flying again… this time with my friend Erica and this time to the other side of the state!
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Cedar Key was beautiful!! Nestled on the Gulf Coast on its own island it felt like “old Florida.”
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on approach to CDK

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The Runway was situated on one end of the island & was only 2300′

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So gorgeous

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The runway was situated right on the water

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An aerial view of the downtown district on the island. We ate lunch at a restaurant at in between the two piers right on the water

The locals and tourists were super friendly!! We met a tourist taking photos of the airstrip offer to give us a ride to a restaurant on the other side of the Island. In the process of giving us a ride, he told us all about his adventures as a pilot and how he came from an aviation family. He even told us the story of how he worked on a project to make the first ever nuclear powered aircraft. Although the project never came through (because they couldn’t control how close the pilot came to radiation) it was a project that he was clearly proud of.

We had lunch at a restaurant right on the Gulf. It was still a bit chilly outside so we sat inside. It was great to have “pilot” conversations & simply enjoy time with friends.

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During the flight, we had some really interesting cloud layers to look at:

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Photo Jan 06, 2 36 35 PM (3)
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After departing CDK, I took the controls for a while. As we were descending (also with a tailwind) we hit 138 Knots groundspeed!! In a C172! I know I can’t believe it either. Since I was flying I didn’t get a picture of it, but I did manage to snap a shot of 120 on the GPS!
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Andy managed to get the plane to fly by itself! (“Look Ma! No Hands!!”)

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Then we stopped at Umatilla (X23) to fuel up! And we saw all the Orange Orchards around the airport.
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And then we headed back to DED

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Overall, it was a really great flight! We worked on working as a team rather than individual pilots, our navigation skills, and short-field landings!

I would definitely go back to Cedar Key if I have the chance! I can’t wait to fly again sometime soon!!

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Till next time… Blue Skies!


Flying with Friends

What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Mine is to fly more! This will probably be a challenge when I go to the Air Traffic Academy (whenever they call!!) but I’ve really missed it & making it more of a point to set the time aside to go out & do it will be good for me. So I actually did get to go flying Saturday with my friend Andy & his girlfriend Sierra. We had such a blast!!

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Sierra, Andy and I went from KDED to KSGJ (Deland, FL to Saint Augustine Florida)

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Overall, it was a great trip. We had lunch at the airport on the field and got 2.4 hours Cross Country time in the C172. It’s been an interesting transition from a low wing aircraft (an Alarus I trained on) to the C172… I still get tripped up when I’m doing pattern work & can’t see the runway beside me because the wing is blocking it! It was also interesting getting used to flying from the right seat. We took turns on who flew left seat, so my time on the right was definitely a learning curve, but one I embraced.

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Till next time… Blue Skies!