July 29, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
The Veterans Airlift Command, a volunteer organization that provides wounded combat veterans with free transportation on general aviation aircraft, has added a new mission—helping Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return to civilian life.
“Team-Up” pairs veterans with GA pilots and uses aviation as a way to give returning vets a new challenge, focus, and a community of supportive people.
Andrew Lourake, a former U.S. Air Force pilot and the first above-the-knee amputee pilot in any U.S. armed service, will direct the new program. While flying at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., Lourake counseled hundreds of military amputees at nearby Walter Reed and Bethesda medical centers. He was a founding member of the peer visitor program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Lourake and Veterans Airlift Command founder Walt Fricke will give details of the Team-Up program at the EAA AirVenture.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
AOPA President Mark Baker and AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow are challenging one another to see who can recruit the most Hat in the Ring Society members for the foundation before the end of the year.
Patty Wagstaff is a patient teacher, with the skill and experience to get the most out of the Extra 300L—and her student.
Gene Leak is something of a local celebrity to local news outlets eager to cover his 102nd birthday flight.
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