The fifth annual Endeavor Awards took place May 12 under the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. This star-studded event recognizes the work of pilots engaged in public benefit flying; volunteering; and donating their time, piloting skills, and aircraft to transport those in need. Among the awards is the Inspiration Award, which this year was presented to AOPA Board of Trustees member and former CEO of Alaska Airlines Bill Ayer and Cirrus Aircraft co-founder Dale Klapmeier.
Klapmeier was recognized for his company’s commitment to giving back; the largest percentage of new volunteer pilots fly Cirrus Aircraft, according to Angel Flight West. “The Cirrus life,” Klapmeier said, “is more than just a hobby.”
The 2018 Endeavor Award winners as selected and chosen by their peers are Dr. Kevin D’Angelo of Wings Flights of Hope and Wanda Whitsitt, founder of LifeLine Pilots. D’Angelo combines dentistry and piloting, flying volunteer missions into remote areas of the Appalachian Mountains, as well as the Dominican Republic and other developing nations. Whitsitt founded LifeLine Pilots in 1981, now the oldest regional volunteer pilot organization in the United States. LifeLine Pilots has flown more than 8,000 missions and more than 5 million miles with a perfect safety record.
Receiving the Endeavor Awards “1,000 Award” was Bob Schaper, who has flown more than 1,000 missions for Angel Flight West since 2010.
The Endeavor Awards gala also recognizes U.S. astronauts, members of the military, and all volunteer public benefit flying pilots. The event holds both a silent and live auction; this year it raised more than $670,000 for Angel Flight West.