PALS Pilot Squawk

Maine Pilots Needed …Okay, Truth be Known, Pilots from Everywhere Needed

Maine Pilots Needed
…Okay, Truth be Known, Pilots from Everywhere Needed

By Tom Quinby

Just the other day while passing through a general store here in Maine, I caught a glimpse of the top headline for The Bangor Daily News, the largest newspaper serving the northern half of the state of Maine.

“Presque Isle Celebrates New Airline’s First Take Off”

Officials from Northern Maine were celebrating United Express’ new jet service from Presque Isle to Newark.

United Airlines is the replacement Essential Air Service (EAS) for PenAir. The service provides airlift from underserved regions to large air hubs. Since 2012, PenAir was providing daily flights from PQI- BOS and back. In addition, PenAir had generously donated seats to PALS for patient use when volunteer pilots were not available to transport them to medical treatment. With United taking over the contract, direct service to BOS has ceased, along with the vouchers offered to patients, and EWR is now the air hub for Northern Mainers.

If you’re flying your family to Florida for vacation, that’s fine, but for patients seeking medical treatment in Boston, this is no celebration. What if you have been traveling to BOS for months or years for just one hour appointments? Now your itinerary will have to be PQI-EWR-BOS-EWR-PQI. Can you imagine the delays? And that’s assuming you could afford the price of the ticket.

This is what our Northern Maine PALS passengers are now facing. No more commercial air service directly to BOS to accommodate their medical needs at Boston area hospitals.

Talk to any of our PALS Mission Coordinators, and they will tell you that missions from Maine are a large percentage of our mission demands. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough area pilots available to serve the demand from Northern Maine. With PenAir now gone as a resource, that leaves many passengers without viable options to receive life-saving medical treatment in Boston. And it leaves PALS struggling to find volunteers to meet the need.

Pilots, if you are able to help with one of these flights, I implore you to do so. For anyone considering some flight time in Maine airspace, being a lifeline to someone in need is a great motivation. But if that isn’t enough, here are some additional suggestions to help you point the nose of that airplane north-northeast….

Maine is a beautiful state to fly over.  Unrivaled with woods, water and coastal scenery.

Try some personal time in Maine, in your airplane, before or after a PALS mission.

Stop in PWM, the foodie and micro-brewery town. Check out the Transportation Museum in RKD. Visit Acadia National Park near BHB. Try some fishing in the areas of Greenville, 3B1 or Rangeley Lakes, 8B0. Count Lighthouses along the coast. Visit a few…

The airspace of Maine is amazing.  Scenic, traffic-free, and well-served by the radars of BOS center, PWM and BGR local radars.

By now, I bet you’re thinking that the 290 NM mile PQI-BOS run, is a little long for your 140 KT airplane. Don’t let that deter you. Our hard-working Mission Coordinators can reroute flights from Northern Maine through airports like LEW or PWM, and rely on southern New England pilots for that second leg to Boston. This would effectively reduce the northern leg by nearly 100 NMs. For a little added incentive, here’s a NOTAM about KLEW: the airport café:“Backwoods Bar B Que”, has a fabulous Smoker for delicious Ribs and Bar B Q meats.

Maine has a lot of PALS demand, and a lot to offer Pilots for rewarding destinations. Please think about adding some missions for memorable flights.

See you on the frequency…


About the Author

Tom Quinby is enjoying his second year as a Mission Assistant for PALS. His other cockpit is an MD-11 for FedEx. Prior to FDX, he spent 5 years at 5000’, flying for the regional BarHarbor Airlines based in KPWM. Now Tom calls his summer home, Yarmouth, Maine.

By : Tom Quinby /July 17, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

Education and Experience, the Perfect Pairing

patient airlift services and eaa imc club
by Ken Dustin

There are a lot of great reasons to fly for a charity like Patient AirLift Services (PALS). Reasons can include anything from altruism to simply being part of an aviation community. One reason we don’t talk about as much is proficiency. After you are trained and certified, now what do you do? Some use their pilot’s license to increase their radius of day trips and vacations. Some to support their business endeavors. Others keep training, knocking out their commercial, CFI, multi-engine, sea-plane, etc. Most pilots will agree you need a reason to fly. Boring holes in the sky quickly becomes just that: boring. You need a mission.

A lack of mission leads to a lack of flying. That leads to a dangerous lack of proficiency. Almost ten years ago I helped a fellow flight instructor start IMC Clubs International. Our mission was to help instrument rated pilots maintain their proficiency. In the early days of IMC Clubs, we developed a schedule of local missions (approaches at local airports) that pilots could fly to achieve levels in the club. The intention was for pilots to fly those missions, shoot those approaches in various conditions then attend meetings where they could share their experience and learn from one another.  As the organization grew and chapters were added across the country, the mission concept was dropped in favor of scenario-based education and group discussion. This preserved the sense of community and camaraderie while providing insightful education.

While IMC Clubs provides excellent education for pilots, the experience piece is missing. This is where a volunteer pilot organization like Patient AirLift Services  provides the perfect pairing. PALS gives instrument rated pilots a reason to fly, a mission. Most PALS missions involve providing fast, free transportation for patients to and from their treatments. These treatments are often long distances from the patient’s home and would mean long, uncomfortable hours of commuting with traffic and other delays. One such patient flies over 400 miles from Owl’s Head, ME to Philadelphia, PA. When I think of her, I think of the hugs she has for everyone along the way. I even receive a hand written thank you card in the mail. Flying that mission is a privilege and an honor.

This perfect pairing of experience and education is on display every 2nd Wednesday at Norwood Memorial Airport in Massachusetts. Mark Hanson, a volunteer pilot and board member at PALS, hosts a group of PALS pilots from the area. We gather at Taso’s restaurant on the field at Norwood (best Gyros in Boston). There are always great stories, helpful tips exchanged and just plain good fun. After the meal, we head next door to KOWD’s terminal building and attend the IMC Club (IMC’s flagship chapter). During that meeting pilots are presented with a scenario, usually a difficult situation a pilot has found himself in (usually culled from a real experience). Then the fun begins. All the pilots in the room are invited to think their way out of this tight spot. The discussion is always spirited.

I truly believe the pairing of these two organizations is the fulfillment of what we envisioned long ago, providing pilots an important reason to fly and sharing all those lessons learned from each flight. I would encourage IMC Club chapters, local hangar flying groups, and any pilot-based club to combine their meetings with a charity like Patient Airlift Services to add a strong sense of mission to their passion for aviation.

If you would like more information on how to make this happen, contact Mark Hanson at:
mark.hanson@palservices.org

If you would like to start an IMC Club at your airport visit:
https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-communities-and-interests/imc-club

Fly safe!

 


About the Author

Ken Dustin is a Commercial Pilot and CFI and has been a PALS Pilot since 2016. He has a degree in business and a wide array of experience as a consultant. He has served as both a leader of projects and manager of people and resources. In roles as diverse as Flight Instructor to head of Sales and Marketing, Ken has met the challenges of understanding people, process and technology to meet client goals. Having unique experience as a founding member of a successful non-profit organization, Ken brings an understanding of challenges faced in this environment.

By : Ken Dustin /June 13, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

Fuel Reimbursement Equals More Missions

Fuel Reimbursement Equals More Missions

By Joe Sandberg

 

If you’re reading this, I know how much you love to fly as well as the gratification you feel from helping others through PALS with your passion and flying skills. But let’s face it, flying isn’t inexpensive. There is definitely a significant cost barrier associated with flying and inasmuch, any opportunity to save on fuel costs is welcome for most pilots.

As you may know, reimbursement for fuel is generally prohibited under Part 91. (For a good read on what the regs say about fuel reimbursement click here.)  Luckily, PALS has petitioned for and received an exemption from the FAA that allows them to legally reimburse qualifying pilots for fuel.

As with any exemption from the FAA, there are a few hoops to jump through to demonstrate an equivalent level of safety, but PALS has done their best to streamline the process and reduce the additional workload.

So, what does it entail, you ask? Firstly, you will need a second class medical. Next you need to complete three online courses, which can easily be completed in one sitting. Lastly, you need an IPC every 12 calendar months. There are some other conditions and limitations you’ll need to comply with as well. For example, reimbursement may only be made for flights that are for a medical purpose (“compassion” flights, such as PALS for Patriots, are excluded). You can learn more by clicking here.

As far as paperwork, it isn’t much different than the documents you already provide for your missions. There is a special affirmation and risk assessment form to complete prior to your mission and a simple fuel reimbursement application to complete after your mission.

At $.30 per mile it covers about a third of my fuel bill in my single engine Lance for the typical mission. (For multi or turbine aircraft the rate is $.45 a mile). It will never cover the entire cost of fuel (unless you fly a glider) but it allows me to fly more missions than I otherwise could. And for me, that is what it’s all about.

Of all the flying I do, the most meaningful flights are those I do for our PALS patients and their families. The true value of the PALS Fuel Reimbursement Program is not that it will pay for my missions, but that it allows me to afford to do more missions. In this case, more is better.

So, if you have thought about it, but thought it would be too complicated or time-consuming, I am here to tell you it’s not. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to contact palsmail@palservices.org.

 


About the Author

Joe is a Commercial pilot with over 3500 hours. He joined PALS in 2011 and has flown over 40 missions. He started his dental practice, South Jersey Center for Dental Medicine in 1985 and flies a Piper Lance out of South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY). His wife, Diana, of 37 years is now working on her private pilot and Joe on his CFI.

By : Joe Sandberg /May 31, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

What You Need to Know About Flying a Passenger on Oxygen

What You Need to Know About Flying a Passenger on Oxygen

By Mark Hanson

 

For most GA pilots, flying a passenger who requires supplemental oxygen is probably a rare occurrence.  But for volunteer pilots like us, the passengers we fly aren’t your typical, everyday passengers, and they have a variety of needs.

Every now and then when choosing a flight from the PALS Missions Available list, you may come across a note that says “Passenger Traveling with Oxygen”. This might raise some questions for you.  Can I legally take O2 on my aircraft? Is this person “too sick” to fly? How big is this thing? What else do I need to consider?

All that uncertainty might even lead you to bypass the flight.  But flying a passenger on oxygen isn’t as scary or complex as it may sound.

Here’s what you need to know about flying a passenger who needs supplemental O2:

Medical Concerns

All passengers who travel with PALS are medically stable and approved for flight in a small, non-pressurized aircraft by their physician.  Taking into account any medical equipment, the person’s physician has verified that they do not have any medical condition that could affect the safety of the flight or the passenger’s personal health or safety.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about a passenger, for any reason, don’t hesitate to ask a member of the PALS team. They’re there to help you and should be used as a resource.

FAA Compliance

Visions of a person toting a large O2 canister filled with hazardous compressed or liquid oxygen may leave you wondering about the legality of transporting a person with oxygen on board your aircraft.

Generally, the FAA prohibits the use of personal oxygen units during flight because they contain compressed gas or liquid oxygen that is defined as hazardous material. However, the FAA has issued guidelines permitting the onboard use of certain portable oxygen concentrators (POCs).

POCs approved by the FAA may be carried and used on board. All PALS passengers needing oxygen are required to provide it in an FAA approved concentrator.

For more reading on the rule see: 14 CFR 135.91 (e) – Oxygen and portable oxygen concentrators for medical use by passengers

Note: For purposes of this paragraph, an aircraft operator that is not a certificate holder under 14 CFR part 121 or part 135, may apply this exception in conformance with 14 CFR 121.574 or 135.91 in the same manner as required for a certificate holder.

Oxygen Concentrator Sizes Vary 

Not all POCs are created equal and sizes do vary.

Example of small concentrator

Some are very small and can sit in a passenger’s lap (see right), some can be quite large (see below) and will need to rest on the floor.

Example of large concentrator

Whenever a PALS passenger is traveling with an oxygen concentrator, the PALS staff will provide you with the dimensions and weight for the equipment so you can determine what may or may not work for you and your aircraft.  If you’re still unsure, ask for a picture. Most times, the passenger would be happy to provide one or PALS may even have one for your reference.

Stowing and Securing the Equipment

The larger POCs can a bit heavy, so you’ll want to be sure that the equipment is secured. The best place to put a concentrator is in a place where the passenger can see and hear any potential alarms coming from the device.  The intake filters on the device should remain free from blockage to prevent overheating and system shutdown. Be sure to leave the device open to air and don’t place anything on top of it.  You should also ensure that the equipment does not restrict access to, or use of, any required emergency or regular exit.

Power Supply and Battery Life

Most passengers will have a POC with batteries that last from 2-4 hours depending on the model.

Most airlines require the battery life for POCs to equal 150% of the flight time and it’s a good rule of thumb to suggest the same to your passenger.  So, if it’s a two hour flight, three hours of battery time would be optimum.

When briefing the passengers about your flight you should mention the flight duration so that they can do battery life planning.

Heads up: When batteries get low, there can be an audible alarm that goes off which can be loud.  On my checklist now, I am asking if the battery low alarm might go off in flight.  I also ask if it can or cannot be turned off.  The audible alarm is typically not so loud as to be distracting or disrupt communications with ATC.

There is no requirement for you to provide aircraft electrical power to a POC user but you may do so if you have the appropriate electrical outlets on board and chose to do so.

Planes with Oxygen

Some pilots may have oxygen supply in their aircraft that is passenger-accessible. Even if you do, you should not plan on using that for patients who require a POC.  Passengers are responsible for regulating their oxygen levels.  That said, you are PIC and should use common sense in assessing the need for changes to your flight, should you feel a passenger is having some kind of distress.

It should go without saying that all PALS Pilots are at liberty to (and should) decline any flight they feel uncomfortable making. But hopefully this information has helped demystify what it’s like to fly a patient on oxygen. Knowing what to expect can go a long way in easing any hesitations you might have had. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me or a member of the PALS team.

 


About the Author

Mark Hanson is a Commercial Instrument ASEL AMEL ASES pilot with an Eclipse 500 single pilot type rating, flying mostly for fun and PALS.  Mark is a member of the Pilot and Safety Committees at PALS, with experience from over 150 PALS missions including flights with a variety of POC devices.

 

By : Mark Hanson /May 10, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

Flying the PROTE – No Training, No Gaining

By Michael Peck

Hey you, pilot!  Feeling a little light headed?  Nah, everything is hunky-dory . . . hunky-duh . . . huny . . . hmmm.  Sure, a little shortness of breath, but you’ve been sitting for a while and you’re not as young as you used to be, so it’s probably normal.  And the rapid heart rate–just your imagination.  Good thing you never smoked (except every now and then–socially—whatever).  Fingernails seem a little blue, but maybe it’s the dwindling light.  You’re at about–what was that altitude again?  You glance with blinkered obliviousness at the pulse oximeter prudently attached to your finger – it reads 68%.  That’s a passing grade, isn’t it?  Oh, and the tasks you started to complete–simple enough to be sure–but, you know, in your current state of detachment you just don’t feel like doing them.  Could if you wanted to, though.  Odd how gray and narrowly focused the world has become.  But you’re just not interested, anymore,

are you . . .

are you . . .

are you?

pulse oxBy now, dear reader, you probably recognize the symptoms of hypoxia overtaking the pilot.  Is he or she doomed, you might ask?  Well, mercifully, no.  You see, our pilot is (more or less) comfortably ensconced in a Portable Reduced Oxygen Training Enclosure (PROTE) and in a few seconds, if he or she does not take any remedial action, a helpful representative of the FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) will assist the pilot in donning an oxygen mask.  After that, the hypoxia symptoms will disappear in a matter of seconds, but the queasiness might linger for a while.

I know this because last May at the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, that pilot was me.

A lot has been written about hypoxia, and everyone who has passed the oral portion of a pilot certification exam can recite the cause–a lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood and tissues caused by a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen which results from increasing altitude.  That is to say, as altitude increases the relative percentage of oxygen remains the same but the partial pressure (i.e., the distance between molecules) becomes greater, resulting in less oxygen being absorbed by the body.

hypoxia_symptoms_vs_o2_saturationMost pilots can name several indicative symptoms of hypoxia.  But unless you have experienced it in a controlled environment, you probably can’t identify the aspects that are peculiar to your body.  Hypoxia affects each of us in different ways–both the specific symptoms and their order of appearance can differ from person to person.  The bottom line, however, is the same for everybody–a loss of cognitive ability akin to being drunk (or so I’m told) and a mild sense of euphoria which makes everything seem alright–and ultimately, if left uncorrected, it leads to death.

The FAA does not require hypoxia training, but it is strongly recommended (see, AC 61-107B).  And in spite of what you may think, you don’t have to be an instrument pilot or fly at altitudes where oxygen is required in order to benefit from the experience.

You also don’t have to travel to Oklahoma (where the wind really does come “sweeping down the plain”) to participate in the training.  The FAA sends the PROTE and its staff around the country to offer a convenient opportunity for local pilots to intimately experience the impact of hypoxia.

The good news for you is that Patient AirLift Services (PALS) will be hosting the PROTE right here in the Northeast this June. 

In order to spare you an excruciating technical explanation of how the PROTE works, let me just say that it realistically approximates the oxygen deprivation a pilot would experience at 25,000 feet without supplemental oxygen.  At the beginning of the training session, the CAMI team provides a safety briefing as well as an in-depth explanation of what to expect.  Then you are given a form containing some very simple cognitive problems that you will be asked to solve and boxes in which you can record your personal hypoxia symptoms at designated intervals.  A pulse oximeter is placed on your finger to allow you to monitor your blood oxygen level as well as your pulse.  The atmosphere in the PROTE is then modified to the training altitude.  When you experience three symptoms of hypoxia or when you begin to feel uncomfortably impaired, you simply reach for your oxygen mask and the invigorating flow of O2 makes the world seem right again.  The “flight” lasts about five minutes, and virtually everyone is on oxygen by the time it ends.

PROTE 3One of the most entertaining aspects of a PROTE session is watching your fellow pilots.  The object of the exercise is to recognize and make note of symptoms heralding the onset of hypoxia.  It’s sort of like stall/spin awareness training.  But some intrepid souls don’t get the message and continue the exercise to a point where third-party intervention is required.  When this happens, a member of the CAMI team approaches what he or she believes to be an impaired pilot and asks some simple questions.  If the answers are not promptly forthcoming (and they almost never are), the PROTE monitor puts an oxygen mask on the pilot and, after a few seconds, asks whether he or she remembers the questions.  In the very few cases requiring intervention that I witnessed, the pilot could recall neither the questions nor the answers.  The PROTE offers each of us an opportunity to safely focus on subtle signs of hypoxia; it is a mistake to view it as a test of strength or stamina.

Be sure to put this training on your calendar. It fills up fast and PALS Pilots will receive exclusive early registration. Training sessions in the PROTE will be held at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport (FRG) from Thursday, June 7th, through Saturday, June 9th. The only requirements are that participants be licensed pilots at least 18 years of age and have a current Class I, II or III medical certificate.

PALS invites you to come fly the PROTE, learn more about your body’s unique reaction to reduced oxygen pressure and thereby become a safer pilot.  You never know when the knowledge you gain could make all the difference in the world. Register here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0e49aaa92ea7fd0-portable. For more information, contact PALS Pilot Coordinator Jen Hotsko: jen.hotsko@palservices.org


About the Author

MPP PhotoMichael P. Peck is a retired partner in the New York office of Sidley Austin LLP, where he practiced for 36 years in the area of asset-backed finance (including aircraft finance). He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he teaches courses in aviation law and is the Chair of the Aviation Finance Subcommittee of the Association of the Bar of The City of New York. Mr. Peck is a graduate of the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University, has JD and MBA degrees from Vanderbilt University, an MA degree from Duke University and a BA degree from Washington & Lee University.  He holds a commercial pilot’s certificate with instrument rating and is a certified flight instructor, instrument instructor and advanced ground instructor.

 

By : Michael Peck /April 04, 2018 /PALS Pilot Squawk /0 Comment Read More

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 www.airraceclassic.org  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

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

LynnMyers

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.

#1 – GET AN IPC

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.

#2 – GO OUT AND GET THAT RATING

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.

#3 – DO SOME GOOD WITH YOUR UNIQUE SKILLS

“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.

#4 – LEARN SOME MORE ABOUT MAINTENANCE

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.

#5 – HIGH ALTITUDE TRAINING

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).

#6 – FLY A DIFFERENT PANEL

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