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Pilots N Paws

The Glory Phenomenon

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Wade Roberts flew two missions toward the end of January 2013. He tells his story below.

I flew two missions this last week (1/20 and 1/22/13).  Frankie (short for Frankenstein; you’ll see why from one of the images), was a male Great Dane, picked up by animal control in Texas City, Texas. A choke collar had grown embedded in his neck, and he was about to be euthanized.

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Sandy and Tom Brandt, Great Dane breeders, learned about Frankie and had him pulled. The chain collar had to be surgically removed from his neck. Frankie needed to get from the Houston, TX area to Boerne, TX, outside of San Antonio, TX, where he had a foster home waiting for him. Great Danes are too large for me to fly crated in 20223 without yanking the rear seat, so Tom agreed to fly as a dog wrangler, to ensure that Frankie, tethered to a short lead attached to a rear seatbelt, was a good boy.

A day before the flight, I learned of a four-week-old female German Shepherd who could escape being put down if she were immediately transported from Houston to a Shepherd rescue ranch in Devine, TX, southwest of San Antonio. I was flying that way anyway . . . .

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Meanwhile, Jerry Dunham, who coordinates a lot of rescues from his home in Austin, TX, (and who had posted the request for Frankie’s mission) informed me about a rescued Argentinian Dogo in San Antonio that had been saved by a foster and boarded while she recovered from an infection. Kitt had only a short window of time to get from San Antonio to Houston, where she had connecting transport to her new home in Florida. Again, the Dogo was too large to crate. Dave Combs, who’s married to Lauren (a volunteer rescuer), volunteered to fly as dog wrangler.

Took off from Pearland Regional shortly after 9 a.m. for Hooks Memorial, north of Houston, picked up Dave, and set course for Boerne Stage Field (again). Dave and I landed at Boerne Stage, boarded Kitt, the Dogo, and took off for Hooks.

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Half way into the return flight, cruising at 7,500 feet, I happened to look down out of the side window. I could clearly see 223’s silhouette/shadow below me in mid-air, surrounded by a wondrous rainbow halo. I had heard of this before, but I never thought that I would experience it. It’s called the Glory optical phenomenon. I was transfixed as the Glory tracked us for 10 minutes or so. Eventually, the radio ended my rapture and urged me back to preparations for the descent, approach and landing as we neared Houston airspace.

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I landed at Hooks, dropped off Kitt and Dave, and then 223 and I headed home, amazed, dazzled, thankful, and forever changed.