PALS Pilot Squawk

Q&A: Woman Pilot, Shannon Osborne, Talks Volunteer Flying and Air Race Classic


Q&A: Woman Pilot, Shannon Osborne, Talks Volunteer Flying and Air Race Classic


March is Women in Aviation Month and here at PALS, we are proud to have quite a number of active women pilots among our ranks.  Today, we’re shining a spotlight on aviatrix extraordinaire, Shannon Osborne.

Shannon first came to PALS in 2014 and she’s been invaluable to the PALS community ever since.  Shannon is a co-pilot for PALS flights, but her services don’t end when the plane lands. She also serves as an Auto Pilot, helping to provide door-to-door service by driving patients from local airports to medical facilities or accommodations in New York City.  Her contributions of time and talent—both in the air and on the ground—have helped relieve the burden of transportation for dozens of PALS passengers.

Most recently, Shannon has decided to champion PALS in a new way: by flying the Air Race Classic in June!

We caught up with Shannon to talk PALS, Air Race Classic, and what it means to give back.

What got you into aviation?Shannon Osborne and granddaughter

Aviation started for me as a way to spend more time with my father, who is also a pilot.  Back when I was a girl, I would spend as much time as I could at the airport we lived on just to be near him.  Fortunately, his love of aviation rubbed off on me and some 30 plus years later, aviation is still a big part of my life in so many ways.

What attracted you to volunteer flying?

Well, my father got me into aviation, but it was my mother who got me into volunteering! A big part of my mother’s life was volunteer work. She spent a lot of time volunteering in orphanages, where she adopted me, and so she really instilled that virtue in me.  PALS allows pilots to be able to give back to those in need by helping fly patients from their home towns to distant locations for medical treatment.  It is a wonderful way to honor both my mother and my father.

What other organizations or causes do you support?

Aviation is such an important part of my life. I’ve really developed a great fellowship with the 99’s, specifically the New York New Jersey Section and also the community of women at Air Race Classic.  For the past several years I have volunteered at the start and the terminus at the ARC.

KathyFink&ShannonOsborneSpeaking of Air Race Classic, we hear you will be racing this year, tell us about it!

Yes! In June of 2018, I will be doing something I’ve always wanted to do: participate in my first race with Air Race Classic! Air Race Classic is the only all-women air race in the United States. It began in the early 1960’s as the Power Puff Derby.  This year’s race starts in Sweetwater, Texas, a place with a history of its own, as this was the training location for WASPS [women pilots] during World War II.  Each team can pick a name or theme and my team chose “PALS in Motion”.  PALS in Motion is the name PALS uses for their New York City Marathon runners each fall and I thought it was fitting for this race as well.

What made you choose to support PALS in such an amazing, unique way?

Flying an all-women air race and using our piloting skills is such a great way to spread the word about the PALS mission.  Our team will be racing with about 50 other planes, stopping in 10 states over 2,400 miles.  That’s a lot of opportunity to spread the word about the work PALS does! Hopefully, we can encourage other pilots to volunteer to fly missions as well!

How can we follow your progress?

You can watch our team, PALS in Motion – Classic 38, race from June 19th through the 22nd at  They keep race stats there and have a cool little tracker where you can see the location of the racers in real time. You can also get updates on Facebook.

ARC Route

Do you have a message to share?

My life has always been about living and pursuing my passion.  To me, being a part of PALS in Motion is a way to enjoy my passion while also spreading the word about how other pilots can share their passion while helping others.  Keep your eyes open this summer for PALS in Motion – Classic 38!

By : Stephanie Larkin /March 05, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

The Top Three Things to LOVE About PALS

Plane with heart

by Dr. Lynn Myers

My husband, Irv, and I have been volunteering with Patient AirLift Services since 2012, but like many of you, our story got started with a love for flight.

Irv has had a passion for flying since his teenage years. He received his private pilot license 46 years ago and has gone on to get a commercial certificate with instrument and multi-engine ratings.  As for me, my journey in aviation began after Irv purchased his Bonanza A36.

Before then, our flights were few and far between.  We both worked full-time and the flying club we belonged to was a 45-minute drive from our home. Once Irv bought that Bonanza, I knew we would be flying more frequently and I wanted to gain some aviation knowledge.  I began lessons and earned my private pilot license in 2005 and my instrument rating in 2006.  I now fly with the Warrington Flying Club at Doylestown Airport, a 20-member flying club that owns a G1000 2008 Skylane and a G1000 2006 Skyhawk.

One day I was perusing a flying magazine when I saw an ad for PALS.  I thought it was such a fantastic way to help people and also give purpose to my flying, so I signed up right away.  After my first PALS mission, I told Irv that he MUST become involved!  His Bonanza is the perfect platform since it has a great payload and is a bit faster than my 182.

It’s been nearly six years now that Irv and I have been part of PALS and we’ve had such a great experience!  We both take flights whenever our schedules allow and we’ve found that it really adds joy and purpose to our flying in so many ways.

Here are the top three things we love about PALS:

1. The Office Coordination

PALS is very supportive of their volunteer pilots and makes scheduling and planning easy. There is a lot of work that goes into making up schedules, contacting pilots, dealing with weather issues and so forth.  The PALS team always does this with a positive attitude and great efficiency.

Recently, Irv and I were transporting two rescue dogs from New York to Pennsylvania, when we received a call from Amanda at PALS. She asked Irv for help with a flight to Philadelphia so that Reese, a young man with eye cancer, could be seen by Shields and Shields who are world renowned for ocular oncology at Wills Eye Hospital.  Fortunately, the mission was on a Sunday when we were both available!  Another PALS Pilot, John Corneal, flew the first leg of the journey, transporting Reese and his wife from Michigan to State College in his Mooney.  Irv and I then flew from State College to Philadelphia where a volunteer driver or “Auto-Pilot”, Andrew Masone, picked them up and drove them to their hotel in the city.  The couple subsequently made it back home with the help of a corporate partner who donated use of their private jet.

PALS brought it all together—general aviation pilots, ground transport volunteers and business aviation—to make this trip as efficient and easy as possible for the passengers. They enable patients an easy and free means of travel to distant medical facilities and are at the pinnacle of volunteer organizations in my opinion. They are simply devoted to connecting people in need of medical transport with the PALS family of pilots. And speaking of that family of pilots…

2. Being Part of a Pilot Family

I will never forget my first flight with PALS.  Wow, was I nervous! But to my rescue came PALS Pilot Greg Vallino.  A few weeks before the flight, Greg called me, introduced himself and asked if he could be my co-pilot.  Greg took care of the paperwork, contacting the patient, and helped make the flight smooth and enjoyable by helping with the little details.  He also remembered to take photos – which I ALWAYS forget to do.  It was the beginning of a friendship with a very special person.

Relationships like this are typical at PALS. The organization works hard to ensure that PALS pilots are part of a community.  They plan get-togethers locally as well as at aviation events so that members can get to know each other.  Being able to meet other PALS Pilots face-to-face really helps you feel part of a team.  You feel that support from the get-go.

3. The Privilege to Help People in Need


There is nothing better than seeing the smile on a passenger’s face when he or she is enjoying the view out the window, or just the comfort of getting to their destination efficiently.  Irv and I are both fortunate to have the resources to volunteer and help patients in need through PALS. Being able to make someone’s journey both easier and less stressful is a true privilege.

I remember one flight for a five-year-old boy who was coming home from cancer treatment in New York City.  Before the flight, the boy told his dad that he was going to be awake the entire trip so he could look outside. He was asleep minutes after takeoff.  Rather than an eight to ten-hour drive, this trip was a mere two-hour flight, which was a lot less stressful for the entire family.  Seeing the reunion with his mom upon landing really made my heart skip a beat. It’s these little things that remind me what an impactful thing we’re doing.

The privilege to help people in need through PALS is something that brings special meaning and joy to our flying.  It’s an honor to meet such brave people and their families and to help make their journey a bit easier!

The love that comes with making a difference is like no other.  Now that you’ve heard a few things we love about PALS, I hope you’ll consider joining and discover a love of your own.

About the Author

Picture1Dr. Lynn Myers is an instrument-rated private pilot and has been a member of PALS since 2012. She is a native of Williamsport, PA and attended Gettysburg College where she earned a BA in chemistry in 1981, graduating with honors (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude). She attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated in 1986. Dr. Myers then practiced equine medicine in southeastern New York State from 1986-1988 where she was involved in neonatal intensive care and reproduction. In 1988 Dr. Myers joined a 3-person equine practice in the Bucks/Montgomery County area specializing in treating performance horses. In 1998 she opted to give up equine medicine and pursue a career in small animal medicine which has allowed her professional life great variety and enjoyment.

Lynn lives in Blue Bell with her husband Irv Stein, who is also a PALS Pilot, and their furry kid Elijah, a rescued domestic short hair kitty.  In addition to flying PALS missions, Lynn also volunteers with Animal Lifeline PA and enjoys skiing, golf, scuba diving and hiking in her free time.

By : Lynn Myers /February 12, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

How One Text Message and a few Volunteer Pilots Saved the Day


By Lee Verrone

I remember the day pretty well.  That morning, I had to attend my wife’s work picnic. This was not something I was especially enthused about, but you know how those things go.  As a pilot, it’s been my habit to get a daily weather observation in the morning—even when I’m not planning to fly—and the weather that day was particularly favorable. There were few clouds and good winds and I remember thinking what a shame it was that I wouldn’t get to fly that day.  I thought about putting my flight bag in the car, just in case I got to leave the picnic early. But I decided against it to avoid temptation. 

I imagine Mark Hanson remembers that day pretty well too.  Mark, a fellow PALS Pilot, was scheduled to fly a six-year-old boy named Cody, and his mom, Kate, from their home near Lewiston, Maine, to New York City for treatment of Cody’s neuroblastoma.  Mark flew from his home base at PYM all the way to LEW to meet his passengers.  After loading them in his Eclipse 500, he began configuring for takeoff, when suddenly… every pilot’s worst nightmare. Flap failure! 

Clearly, that plane wasn’t going anywhere and Cody and his mom might not make that important appointment after all.

So, I’m at this picnic in New York, making small talk with my wife’s co-workers about some flying adventures we do and some charity flights, when I received a text message: “PALS team needs your help…”

PALS uses a Twilio SMS text alert system whenever in a pinch, and as soon as Mark alerted the PALS team that he was grounded, the on-call coordinator, Barbara, acted swiftly and sent out an alert.

The text came in.

This could be it. 

My chance to truly help someone in need (and let’s be honest, also my ticket out of here).  I knew that it would be a very quick flight up to New England because of the helping winds.  My wonderfully understanding wife agreed that this boy was much more important than any picnic, and so I let Barbara know I was heading out to pick up my gear and would be at LEW in less than two hours.

I said my good-byes to all the folks I had recently met. When they asked where I was going, I explained that I was off to Maine (WHAT!!!) to do a PALS mission for someone in need. They were all impressed that such a service exists. It’s safe to say, no one begrudged me an early departure.

Meanwhile, back in Lewiston, Mark was exploring his options. He needed to somehow get from Maine back home to Plymouth, Massachusetts. And what would become of the plane?  He called fellow PALS Pilot, George Turner, who answered his cell phone on one ring.  George, like Mark, is based at PYM and Mark hoped he could perhaps give him a ride back home.  George was always glad to help, but it turned out he was just sitting down for a glass of wine before dinner.  In Italy.  Without giving Mark time to comment, George offered to call on their hangar neighbor, Jason W., from PYM to see if he might be able to help.  As good luck would have it, Jason was at the airport about to practice approaches in the IMC weather.  Jason, always up for an adventure, decided that helping a PALS pilot in need was more important and headed on to LEW instead.

Lee Verone and CodyAs for me, I was off to the airport.  I launched from HPN around 3pm and I arrived at LEW around 4:15 to meet Mark and my passengers.  Cody seemed to be a bit disappointed at first. He was bummed that he was not going to be flying in a jet after all, and that my plane, a Columbia 300, had only one propeller.  I gave him a little Snoopy stuffed animal which cheered him up and Cody and Mom settled comfortably into the plane. Once we were at cruise, Cody seemed to be more comfortable with me and the plane and seemed to enjoy the ride.  As we approached the New York area, some weather rolled in, so we ended up going through some rain and clouds. Cody seemed to really enjoy that experience.   

We landed ILS 16 around 715 pm. PALS had arranged for an Uber so the passengers could get from the airport to their destination. Coming from a rural area of Maine, Uber is not a very common thing, so I showed Kate how to use it.  The car came, I gave Cody and Kate a hug and wished them well in their journey.  

Mark made it home, thanks to Jason, who also managed to get in a practice approach into PYM in IMC.  Some LEW based PALS pilots arranged to get Mark a ‘no charge’ hangar for his plane while he worked out a ferry permit.

In the end, it all worked out.  I was saved from an awkward social event (sorry, honey), the passengers made it to their destination, and Mark made it home with his plane safely stowed away. 

They say that teamwork makes the dream work, and at PALS, that is certainly true.  It is truly a team effort to do what we do. I am thankful for the coordination staff and also for the support of an extraordinary pilot community.  It always makes me happy when things come together to help others.

About the Author

Lee has been flying volunteer flights for over eight years and has been a volunteer pilot with PALS since 2014.  He is an instrument-rated Private Pilot with over 2500 hours.  With a life-long passion for flying, he completed his first solo flight at the age of 32—in only eight hours of training! By 12 hours, he owned his own aircraft. 

Lee graduated with an Information Technology Degree from Lynchburg College, and has been working in IT for over 30 years. He’s been with MetLife for 20 of those years, which is where he met his understanding wife. ;-)

Besides a passion for flying and desire to help others, Lee flies PALS flights to help honor his late sister, Toni-Marie Hals, who lost her 6-year battle with ovarian cancer 5 years ago.  

“Experiencing first-hand what these types of health issues bring to a family is taxing, so whatever I can do to help is a good thing.”Lee Verrone and Plane

By : Lee Verrone /January 30, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

Six Ways to Be a Better Pilot in 2018


by Dan Luke

Pilots all have a drive and passion to be great at what we do. We operate in a unique environment with many demands, and we must continue to expand our skill set to meet them.  If we are not training, we are forgetting.  The new year brings an opportunity to gain a little bit of flying wisdom and be a better pilot.  Here are six things any aviator (or aviatrix) should resolve to do in 2018.


I know what you’re thinking. You stay current so you don’t need an IPC. Hear me out on this.

I once flew with a pilot who came to me for a checkout in a Cirrus SR20. This guy was a former Air Force pilot, a retired captain from a major airline, an aerobatics instructor and had been flying GA his entire life. Needless to say, he was an awesome pilot! Surprisingly, he also had no idea how to do basic GPS approaches. He didn’t know the difference between LNAV, LNAV/VNAV, and LPV.  When he retired from the airline, GPS was just being introduced and he never learned it. He also hadn’t received any instrument training since retiring. Like most of us, this pilot stayed current by shooting six approaches every six months.

But there is a big difference between “current” and “proficient”. The regs don’t say anything about shooting six good approaches. Even if you do six, simply awful, VOR approaches, track a course, and do a hold every six months, you are considered current, and therefore, legal to fly IFR.

Current? Yes. Proficient? Maybe not.

It’s understandable that an IPC can be a bit intimidating. After all, it’s essentially an instrument practical test—not something most of us want to repeat. But there really is no downside to getting one. If you are instrument current going into the test, you are instrument current at the end of the test, regardless of how well you performed. If you don’t perform so well…Good! Now you just identified an area in your flying that needs some improvement. You can work on that! Maybe you did an outstanding job… Good! Now you can take to the skies (even the cloudy ones) with confidence that you can operate safely.

Get an IPC this year and consider making it a regular check—this year get an IPC, next year your normal Flight Review. If your Flight Review is due this year, ask your instructor to add an IPC. Remember, just staying “current” doesn’t necessarily mean you are proficient. And not proficient = not safe.


Maybe you always wanted to get a multi-engine rating, maybe a sea-plane, maybe you finally have the time in your logbook to be a commercial pilot. Go out and do it.

There is nothing like the training environment to help hone a pilot’s skills. Even adding an operating privilege like a tailwheel, complex airplane, or high performance endorsement all involve some good training and will always improve your skill set.

If time or resources are limited, how about adding a Remote Pilot Certificate to your wallet? It might surprise some pilots how the simple online training for the Remote Pilot Certificate can help them brush up on some airspace rules or other basics that they may not have looked at in years. And, at the end of the training, you have something to show for it.

So whether you have been romanticizing the notion of landing a plane on the water, looking to become a Flight Instructor, or just brush up on some skills, resolve to go out and get that rating this year.


“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through.” – Orville Wright.

Humanity has been trying to master flight since Daedalus and Icarus. Da Vinci only dreamed to do what we get to do regularly. We are fortunate to be living in a time where our dreams are able to be realized. Now that we’ve realized our dreams, we have a unique opportunity to also do some good.

Volunteer flying offers the opportunity for pilots to use their unique set of skills for the betterment of others. There is someone out there who needs help. You can help them. The possibilities for public benefit flying are varied and many: Flying a patient to their medical treatment, flying a soldier to a recovery clinic, relocating animals in need, or helping to bring supplies into a disaster area.

I am a registered pilot with an organization called Patient AirLift Services who works to connect pilots and aviation resources with people and patients in need.  The PALS mission encompasses medical flights, military flights, compassion flights and disaster relief, and I find their staff and coordination to be top notch.  You can sign up with PALS here or find a list of other public benefit flying organizations through the Air Care Alliance website here.

Already a volunteer pilot? Great! Resolve to fly more volunteer flights this year!

The feeling that comes with helping those in need is unlike any other and it’s a great way to keep your aircraft moving and your skills sharp.


As PIC, we have an awesome responsibility for the safety of our flight. We were taught about maintenance throughout training, and we know how to look in a logbook for the required inspections, but are we really sure we have a firm grasp on the safety requirements of our aircraft? Maintenance requirements can be confusing!

Aircraft owners should become very familiar with maintenance regulations and the specifics of their aircraft. What type of maintenance can I perform on my own aircraft? What is preventative maintenance? I want to remove a seat from my plane for a flight. The next flight I want to reinstall the seat. Can I do that? Do I need to log anything? My mechanic just did an annual and handed me a list of things that make my aircraft un-airworthy. If I have those items repaired, do I need another annual or did the first annual satisfy the requirement? How much of that work can I do?

I would suggest that all pilots, but especially aircraft owners, open 14 CFR Part 43 and give it a good read. Pay close attention to Appendix A for particulars on preventative maintenance. Really familiarize yourself with these rules and the maintenance requirements of your aircraft, then actively participate in your aircraft’s annual inspection. You could learn a lot about your plane that way, and it will help you stay safer. The aircraft needs an inspection anyway, you might as well take advantage and learn something this year.


Aircraft are more capable today than most people even understand. There are GA aircraft that operate in environments that were considered outer space not that long ago (relatively speaking). But humans cannot operate in those same environments. We need to rely on our tools, machines, and (you guessed it) training, in order to succeed in flying at high altitudes. For aircraft requiring a type rating to operate at higher altitudes, the training involves learning how to actually operate the controls in that environment. You learn the appropriate air speeds, bank and pitch attitudes, and what to do in an emergency. But aside from an instructor’s wisdom and some reading on the matter, there isn’t usually much focus on human factors during type training.

High Altitude training isn’t just important for jet or turbine aircraft. A turbo Cirrus SR22 can fly well into the flight levels even though it is not pressurized. What would happen if your O2 regulator developed a leak? This is where human factors training comes into play. Learning how the human body—your human body—reacts when exposed to low pressure conditions can be invaluable if a problem ever arises.

Because high altitudes affect each body differently, one of the best ways to get human factors training is to use yourself as a test dummy and sit in an altitude chamber. Feeling the effects of hypoxia and the resulting inability to properly perform might help you recognize a problem and declare that emergency just a little sooner than you would have without the training.  That could save your life.

Patient AirLift Services will be hosting the FAA’s Portable Reduced Oxygen Training Enclosure or PROTE at Republic Airport (FRG) in June of 2018.  This is an amazing opportunity, as it will be the first time the PROTE has made its way to the northeast. (Pilots otherwise might travel all the way to Oklahoma City to take advantage of the FAA’s Hypoxia Training course). 

Whether you operate in a high altitude environment or not, put this on your calendar and make it a resolution to sit in an altitude chamber this year. It will take your breath away. (I just couldn’t resist).


Years ago, I learned to fly looking at an assortment of dials and gauges that, compared to today’s technology, seem pretty antiquated. These days, I fly an airliner with a glass panel that, well,  somehow also now seems antiquated. Amazing how that works. In front of me is an instrument panel that would have absolutely astounded a pilot 20 years ago, and I just called it antiquated.

Technology has changed so much that there are many pilots today who have never flown a plane with a standard “six-pack” instrument panel. And even though glass panels have been around long enough that older versions now seem dated, there are still many pilots who, for fear of change or sheer stubbornness, have not yet flown a glass panel.

This year, go out and fly a different panel.

If you are in a plane with conventional instruments, try to get some instruction in an aircraft with a glass panel. It’s a pretty easy transition and it will expand your horizons and help keep you in pace with the modern flight environment. You’ll learn a lot about why glass panels are generally superior and it can help you feel a little more confident if you ever have the opportunity to fly a more modernly-equipped aircraft.

If you fly a glass panel, find an aircraft to rent with a traditional “six-pack”. This transition is, unfortunately, not as easy. It is, however, well worth it—especially for the instrument pilot. If you rent a plane with a decent instructor and do some basic instrument training—basic attitude flying, intercepting a course, approaches, and (as everyone cringes) holds—you’ll find that getting back in that futuristic flying machine will be that much better. Not only will you have polished up some skills, you will have drastically improved your ability to scan your instruments – a skill often lacking in glass panel pilots.

The new year offers the promise of opportunity. Let’s resolve to take advantage of this opportunity and make ourselves better and safer pilots.

Have fun. Fly safe. And have a Happy New Year.

About the Author

blogpost1Daniel Luke is an Airline Transport Pilot and CFII AMEL-ASEL.  Dan’s aviation career includes Charter Captain, Air Traffic Controller at three towers, and FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. A decorated veteran, Dan served in the US Army as paratrooper serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Dan was twice awarded the Army Commendation Medal, achieved Commandant’s list at the NCO Academy and continued his success by graduating from Marywood University’s aviation program.  He is currently an airline pilot with Piedmont Airlines.

By : Daniel Luke /January 05, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More