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Pilots N Paws

The 7 in Cessna 172 must stand for 7 dogs fit just right!

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I wanted to give a quick thanks to this an entire organization for re-engaging my love of aviation by giving it an entirely new meaning.

I imagine everyone has had a few moments in their life that they can recall as life changing. Last November I met one of the most selfless and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  This individual has dedicated their life, personally and professionally, to the prevention of cruelty to animals.  I can vividly recall a story she told me about a litter of puppies that were rescued but needed medical care and a shelter with room.   I was blown away by her compassion and her spirit.  Her story resonated on many levels. At the drop of a hat she drove nearly halfway across the country, nonstop to give these dogs a chance.  As I sat there listening to the story I couldn’t help but thinking that there must be a better way, a way that could harness aviation resources.
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 I’m not a big believer in chance encounters.  About two months ago I found an old copy of an aviation magazine at the office and starting flipping through it during lunch.  The very first page I turned to had the Pilots N Paws advertisement in the bottom corner.  I’ve been flying professionally for nearly a decade, I guess I’ve been living under a rock because this was the first time I had ever heard of Pilots N Paws.
After seeking an airport with suitable rental planes and working through a couple weeks of aircraft scheduling conflicts, I registered on the website and jumped on the first flight within range.  The trip started with three adolescent dogs and two puppies. It quickly grew to seven with the addition of two pit bull puppies.  The adventure was originally scheduled for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and it was all coming together nicely until the weather got involved.  Ole Mother Nature wasn’t ready for the dogs to depart North Carolina just yet and the combination of heavy fog and a line of thunderstorms delayed our trip.
photo_13
Attempt number 2 was scheduled for September 7th and I think it may have turned out to be one of the best flying days of the year. The sky was clear from Carolina to Connecticut and temperature was just right.  A couple dozen emails later, three aircraft, a little bit of aviation fuel and some helpful air traffic controllers we got the dogs to their new home with no issues.
I would offer some recommendations to first time pilot volunteers though- bring a friend/copilot along to keep the dogs company and ease their nerves during the flight!
Special thanks to MaryBeth Wicker for flying the majority of this trip and guiding me throughout the process, Dave for meeting me at the Flying W airport and the incredible staff at both the sending and receiving shelters, Kim and Sue, for your flexibility and coordinating the hard parts! And lastly to the individual that rescued that litter of Tennessee Coonhounds without hesitation – for showing me true passion and grace.photo_12
I wanted to give a quick thanks to this an entire organization for re-engaging my love of aviation by giving it an entirely new meaning.

I imagine everyone has had a few moments in their life that they can recall as life changing. Last November I met one of the most selfless and dedicated people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  This individual has dedicated their life, personally and professionally, to the prevention of cruelty to animals.  I can vividly recall a story she told me about a litter of puppies that were rescued but needed medical care and a shelter with room.   I was blown away by her compassion and her spirit.  Her story resonated on many levels. At the drop of a hat she drove nearly halfway across the country, nonstop to give these dogs a chance.  As I sat there listening to the story I couldn’t help but thinking that there must be a better way, a way that could harness aviation resources.
photo_9
 I’m not a big believer in chance encounters.  About two months ago I found an old copy of an aviation magazine at the office and starting flipping through it during lunch.  The very first page I turned to had the Pilots N Paws advertisement in the bottom corner.  I’ve been flying professionally for nearly a decade, I guess I’ve been living under a rock because this was the first time I had ever heard of Pilots N Paws.
After seeking an airport with suitable rental planes and working through a couple weeks of aircraft scheduling conflicts, I registered on the website and jumped on the first flight within range.  The trip started with three adolescent dogs and two puppies. It quickly grew to seven with the addition of two pit bull puppies.  The adventure was originally scheduled for the Saturday of Labor Day weekend and it was all coming together nicely until the weather got involved.  Ole Mother Nature wasn’t ready for the dogs to depart North Carolina just yet and the combination of heavy fog and a line of thunderstorms delayed our trip.
 photo_7
Attempt number 2 was scheduled for September 7th and I think it may have turned out to be one of the best flying days of the year. The sky was clear from Carolina to Connecticut and temperature was just right.  A couple dozen emails later, three aircraft, a little bit of aviation fuel and some helpful air traffic controllers we got the dogs to their new home with no issues.
I would offer some recommendations to first time pilot volunteers though- bring a friend/copilot along to keep the dogs company and ease their nerves during the flight! photo_6
Special thanks to MaryBeth Wicker for flying the majority of this trip and guiding me throughout the process, Dave for meeting me at the Flying W airport and the incredible staff at both the sending and receiving shelters, Kim and Sue, for your flexibility and coordinating the hard parts! And lastly to the individual that rescued that litter of Tennessee Coonhounds without hesitation – for showing me true passion and grace.
photo_11