Tag Archives: Public Benefit Aviation

From the Cockpit: So. CA Command Pilot, Pete Bernardin

Besides flying medical missions around California for Angel Flight West, I occasionally fly for Pilots and Paws and for Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD) – a non-profit in Palm Springs that trains and delivers guide dogs to the visually and physically impaired. These organization are tops in their respective fields, and sometimes I’m able to combine missions in a two-for-one event. Recently, I had such an opportunity flying two young boys from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, and then on to Oakland to pick up a golden Labrador Retriever and fly her back to Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Pete Bernardin

The trip to Palo Alto was uneventful, and twenty minutes later I checked into Oakland to pick up Daisy, the guide dog. I knew nothing of Daisy’s history and was totally unprepared for what was to come next. Daisy had been trained by GDD and delivered to a lovely woman in Oakland more than six years ago. Now, at eight-and-a-half she was being retired as all working guide dogs must, and my job was to return her to GDD in Palm Springs. The dog’s owner, Rebecca, both visually and physically impaired, arrived with Daisy and two friends. When the five of us walked out to the airplane, I was beginning to appreciate what a momentous moment this was. Daisy and Rebecca were inseparable companions for six years – 2,190 days – and this was to be the last one.

The unsuspecting dog was happy, but very protective of her master as we slowly walked out to my Cherokee Six. I opened the back door and patted the left rear seat. Daisy looked at me, then to Rebecca who nodded, and Daisy jumped on board. We waited a moment then closed and latched the door. Rebecca assured me that Daisy would be a good traveler, gave me a leash, some dog food and a couple of Daisy’s favorite toys as tears streamed down her face. The anguish of the moment was almost unbearable. As we taxied, Daisy whimpered and looked back, her nose pressed against the window. I felt like a heel.

I discovered that the dog had no interest in food or toys, or as it turned out, no interest in me either. I’m a dog person, and can usually sweet-talk my way into a friendly relationship with most dogs in a couple of minutes, but not with Daisy. It was a long flight and she never slept. She just sat stoically in that seat for nearly three hours. Whenever I talked to her, she turned her head away; she was having none of me, thank you.

On the arrival in Palm Springs, Daisy couldn’t get out of that damn airplane fast enough. Because we were late, I was surprised that the pick-up person from GDD wasn’t there. A few phone calls revealed that he had to cancel at the last minute, so the Executive Director of Guide Dogs was on her way. In the FBO lounge we were positioned so that I could see the street entrance down a long corridor about 40 feet away. Soon, a woman came through the door. “Daisy” she cried. The dog literally leaped two feet in the air, pulled the leash right out of my hand, and streaked down the hall to meet her. In a moment, they were all arms and paws wrapped around each other, a dog-tail-wagging-crying-face-licking blur. Turns out, she had trained Daisy six years ago, and that bond is like a mother/daughter thing; it never goes away. What a scene. I’ll never forget it. When a dog retires, they are brought back to the Guide Dogs for a reorientation, and after a while placed up for adoption.

Public Benefit aviation is full of stories just like this. I sometimes think the chief beneficiaries are the pilots. I mean flying your airplane and helping people and dogs all in one day – does it get any better than this? And in the end, you feel just wonderful about what you and your airplane have been able to do.

Endeavor Awards: ‘Amelia Earhart’ Adagio, Red Bull Helicopter, Astronaut-Guided Tours

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.

Crystalle will perform "Adagio for Amelia Earhart" at the Endeavor AwardsCrystalle will perform “Adagio for Amelia Earhart” at the Endeavor Awards

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.

Endeavor Awards Emcee: Sean Tucker

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 Tucker, Emcee, Endeavor Awards Gala

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.”

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