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Pilot flies bomb-sniffing dog from Florida to MarylandPilot flies bomb-sniffing dog from Florida to Maryland

Community group donates dog to police departmentCommunity group donates dog to police department

Editor's note: This article was updated May 31 to clarify the date of the flight.

Nick Barson’s Piper Cherokee 140 touched down at Maryland's Frederick Municipal Airport on May 26 carrying a special passenger: a 16-month-old dog that is joining the Frederick City Police.

Nick Barson (left) and Felipe Molina transported a trained bomb detection dog from Florida to Maryland. Photo courtesy Nick Barson

Barson was bringing Cesar, a Belgian Malinois-German Shepherd, to his new home, where he will serve with the Frederick City Police K-9 division.

Barson, who is based in Fort Pierce, Florida, is an avid Pilots N Paws volunteer. He said he tries to fly 30 to 40 hours per month for the organization, which matches pilots to transport rescued, sheltered, or fostered animals to new homes.

But this was an extra-special mission. Cesar, a trained bomb detection dog, was donated to the Frederick City Police by the Unsung K9 Hero Project, a joint venture between the Frederick County Humane Society in Maryland and Virginia-Maryland-Washington DC Dog Magazine.

Barson and his friend, pilot Felipe Molina, flew from Fort Pierce to Orlando to collect Cesar and another dog. They had to delay their launch from Orlando to construct a divider, because the back of the 140 wasn’t big enough for two large dog crates.

Frederick City Police Detective Pete Genovese holds Cesar after his flight from Orlando to Maryland. Photo courtesy K9 Unsung Heroes

They encountered a second delay during a planned fuel stop in South Carolina that turned out not to have fuel available. After fueling up at another airport, Barson finally touched down at 9:30 p.m. Eastern—about 12 hours later.

Detective Pete Genovese, head of the Frederick City Police K-9 Unit, was waiting at the airport to collect the dogs. Cesar will be only the second bomb-sniffing dog in the department’s history.

Barson said the Florida-Maryland trek was his longest Pilots N Paws flight to date. He said Molina, an instrument student, logged seven hours of hood time.

The Unsung K9 Hero Project has donated two dogs to Frederick law enforcement agencies, as well as bite suits, a mobile kennel, tracking harnesses, medical treatment for an existing Frederick City Police K-9, and other items, said co-founder Pam Wahl.

“Often, the first budget cuts made to city, county, and state police agencies are the K9 units,” Wahl said. She is also president of Pilots N Paws, and reached out to the group's volunteer pilots to set up a transport for Cesar.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying

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