Sunday May 4, 2014 was the first annual Endeavor Awards celebrating public benefit aviation. Over 400 guests were in attendance at the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Pavilion in the California Science Center to celebrate the good that aviation does. Highlights from the star-studded event are included below.
Veteran’s Airlift Command/Angel Flight West
When asked about why he is a volunteer pilot, Jeff is quick to say that he feels very fortunate to utilize his own good fortunes and passion for flying to pay it forward to those who need to reach medical care, and to our veterans and their families.
Jeff Hendricks was nominated by Veterans Airlift Command, a volunteer pilot organization which provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes. In 2013 he flew 24 missions for VAC and has flown a total of 67,720 mission miles.
Many of his missions are coast to coast, a great fit for his Lear which he originally started flying for his fishing business in Alaska.One of his most memorable flights was flying Tyler Jeffries, a double amputee veteran, across the country from Washington D.C. to Ft. Lewis in Seattle to meet his unit as they returned from Afghanistan. Because of the efforts of Jeff and Veterans Airlift Command, Tyler was able to meet his unit standing up.
Joe DeMarco, Sr.
Wings Flights of Hope
Joe was introduced to volunteer flying by a friend. Joe was invited for what he thought was casual day of flying. Upon landing, they were greeted with tears of joy and gratitude from a mother and her child suffering from a spinal tumor. Joe was unprepared for the impact of this experience. He became a volunteer pilot in 2004 and has flown 1,165 missions.
Joe DeMarco Sr. is President of DeMarco Construction Management, Inc. and the Founder of Wings Flights of Hope.
Joe founded Wings Flights of Hope in 2010. He flies a mission almost daily and his wife, Diane, is the Mission Coordinator. Together with his son, Joe DeMarco, Jr. and 17 other volunteer pilots, they are on call 24/7 for passengers in need.
One of Joe’s most memorable flights was for a boy named Luke with a double-lung transplant. While waiting to go home from a hospital, Luke explained to the paramedics that his personal pilot was on his way. Joe says that being there for Luke as “his own pilot” really rewards him as a volunteer.
Patient Airlift Services (PALS)
Joe Howley is Co-Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Patient Airlift Services. Joe says that his dedication to PALS “comes from seeing firsthand how much need there is and the qualitative difference we are making in people’s lives.”
Joe has been a volunteer pilot for over 15 years. He has flown over 500 flights for PALS and previously for another VPO. He has dedicated extraordinary time and energy to hosting fundraising events and making presentations to business groups and local organizations explaining the work of volunteer pilots.
One of the highlights of his experiences as a volunteer pilot was flying back and forth for two weeks during the Haitian relief efforts bringing doctors, nurses, engineers and supplies to those in need, and helping to reunite families.
Joe is also the President of the Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association. He lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife Christine and their three children.
To learn more about the night’s festivities, please check out these wonderful articles recapping the event.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA): Aviation Shines at Endeavor Awards
Flying Mag: Aviation Notables Honor Volunteer Pilots
Compassionate volunteer pilots fly patients, animals, wounded warriors and special needs kids to camps. Plus, environmental surveys and disaster relief. Using their own planes and fuel!
The inaugural Endeavor Awards event is staged for launch on May 4, 2014 to honor the true heroes of flying. The first three Endeavor Award Winners were chosen from nominations from volunteer pilot organizations (VPOs) nationwide. Their awards will be announced and bestowed on awards night, May 4 in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Pavilion at the California Science Center.
These compassionate men and women have distinguished themselves by flying people to medical care, rescuing and relocating animals, transporting wounded warriors, surveying environmental impacts, assisting in the wake of disasters, and taking special needs kids to camps,” said Mark Wolper, President & Executive Producer of the Wolper Organization at Warner Bros. and Chair of the Endeavor Awards Host Committee. “Throughout the evening of awards, we will experience the dramatic and heart-warming stories of people whose lives were saved and protected by these generous pilots.
Leading Gala Sponsors on behind-the-scenes tours of the Endeavour and its successful shuttle missions is a team of current and former Astronauts: Randy Bresnik, Daniel Bursch, Drew Feustel, Tammy Jernigan, Charlie Precourt, Scott Parazynski, Kent Rominger, George Zamka, and Jeff Wisoff.
Opening the show with graceful daring will be German performer Crystalle, who will soar through her “Adagio for Amelia Earhart” before the crowd of 400 celebrants. This performance is an homage to the legendary female pilot Amelia Earhart who in 1932, was the first woman to fly single handed across the Atlantic. With this amazing feat, Amelia Earhart embodied self-confidence, strength and an ability to plan down to the smallest detail combined with an incredible lust for life. She was, and still is, an inspiration for all women and men who want to fly.
This fascinating woman has also inspired Crystalle to take flight in a spell-bindingly different way. Working exclusively with the British choreographer Christina Comtesse a new concept and vocabulary of movement has been developed, using specially designed equipment built and developed by the technical team of the Seattle Opera House (USA). It is the only aerial act in the world on the subject of aviation, planes and pilots.
The Endeavor Award honorees were first nominated in an open call for individuals from 40 volunteer pilot organizations (VPOs) nationwide. From these original nominees, the Endeavor Awards Gala Host Committee selected a list of 13 Finalists. After the quantitative voting process, three inaugural Endeavor Award winners were selected. The winners will be announced and honored with their Endeavor Award at the event.
The Endeavor Awards Gala is an annual event honoring the pilots, individuals and support organizations, corporations and government agencies most responsible for providing Public Benefit Aviation. Please click on the link below to learn more about this incredible event from emcee Sean Tucker: Renowned Oracle Team Airshow Performer and Pilot!
Sean is the U.S. National Advanced Aerobatic Champion, winner of numerous showmanship awards, inductee in the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Aviation Air and Space Hall of Fame, and an honorary Thunderbird, Blue Angel, and Golden Knight – to name a few. In August 2013 he was named Honorary Chairman of Young Eagles at the Gathering of Eagles at AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. “I love sharing the magic of flight. Once a person leaves the ground, it changes their perspective. It’s something they never forget. Whether or not they become a pilot, they have seen the world from angel’s eyes. It changes them profoundly. It’s uplifting, inspiring, empowering.”