Hangar Talk

The story behind the story

March 1, 2010

What started out as a ride-along in a Virginia Beach, Virginia, police helicopter turned into the real thing for Editor at Large Tom Horne and photographer Chris Rose. “One minute the pilot—David Cook—was showing us his Atlantic Avenue beat from 1,000 feet agl,” Horne says, “and the next minute came a call that a bank robbery had just happened. Next thing you know, we’re hovering at treetop height over someone’s back yard, where the robber was hiding.” It’s all in a day’s work of general aviation serving America, as you’ll see in GA Serves America: Eyes in the Sky,” where all the action begins. (Check out the N-number of the Virginia Beach Bell 407—Nine-One-One-Victor-Bravo.)

No one would have faulted Tammy Duckworth for missing the war in Iraq, or allowing the severe injuries she suffered there to ruin her life. No one, that is, except Duckworth herself. “She couldn’t stay home in good conscience because she trained and led soldiers who were going,” said Senior Editor Dave Hirschman. “And she couldn’t allow her injuries to stop her because she’s got too much vital work to do on behalf of her fellows.” Duckworth, an assistant secretary at the Veterans Administration, has returned to flight in fixed-wing aircraft and hopes, eventually, to fly helicopters again. Hirschman flies with Duckworth for his story “ Something To Overcome.”

“Sometimes a phone call can set events into motion that remind you why you got into flying,” says contributor Charles H. Stites. The call was an invitation to be a crewmember on relief flights into Haiti (“ Flying Into Haiti”). “It was just two days after the quake, and I’d already heard about the bottlenecks at the airport in Port-au-Prince, and the concerns about private pilots trying to get into Haiti.” But the call came from a friend with Bahamas Mission Support, an organization with assets throughout the Bahamas, and a strong relationship with Rotary International. By the next day, volunteer pilots were delivering doctors and supplies throughout the island, and within two weeks, they had flown medical staff and tons of supplies into the stricken country—and brought stranded Americans out. Stites met many volunteers, including Dr. Gloria Ageeb and nurse Moniquea Fortune, who is quoted in his story. “These women were the true volunteers,” he says. “We should all be thankful that we have people like them.” Stites is the founder and executive director of Able Flight, a national nonprofit organization that provides flight training scholarships for people with disabilities.

“Jets are designed to handle all kinds of weather but they must be flown with care,” admonishes AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg. “The case of a tech-star entrepreneur who blasted off into some typical Maine midwinter weather proves that rushing a departure is not a good idea,” he says in Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Attitude or Altitude.” Landsberg has authored more than 40 “Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents” stories in his 18-year tenure with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.