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Father-son duo cross the country for a causeFather-son duo cross the country for a cause

Eighteen-year-old student pilot Asher Green needed only to pass his written exam and take his private pilot checkride when the coronavirus pandemic put a temporary halt to his flight training.

  • Asher Green (left) and Todd Green (right) flew over 1,200 miles from Chicago to Scottsdale, Arizona, with bags of medical N-95 masks crammed in every corner of their aircraft. The father-son pair had to put the masks in large plastic bags to fit them into the available space. Photo by Todd Green.
  • Todd and Asher Green used the family's Mooney Ovation to pick up 12 cases of N-95 masks at Chicago's DuPage Airport. Northwestern University medical students Tricia Pendergrast and Lindsay Edwards, volunteers for a nonprofit organization that acquires personal protective equipment for distribution to needy medical centers, met the Greens to deliver the 12,500 masks destined for hospitals in Nebraska and the Navajo Nation. Photo by Todd Green.
  • Originating their trip at their home base in Santa Ana, California, the Greens flew a spectacular route over the Grand Canyon while en route to Chicago to pick up the medical supplies. Photo by Todd Green.
  • Asher Green, 18, is a student pilot with 56 hours of flight training toward his private pilot certificate. While this trip was not loggable for the student, he gained valuable aeronautical experience and extensive quality time with his father, Todd Green. Asher assisted his father with the flight planning and helped fly much of the route. Photo by Todd Green.
  • University of Nebraska medical student Rohan Khazanchi met the Greens at Omaha, Nebraska's Millard Field to take 1,250 of the N-95 masks to medical facilities in hard-hit rural areas of Nebraska. Photo by Todd Green.
  • An overnight stay in Pueblo, Colorado, afforded the Greens a stunning sunset behind their 2006 Mooney Ovation. Photo by Todd Green.
  • Asher Green learned many valuable lessons in long cross-country flying on the 3,040-nautical-mile round trip he took with his father. Crossing the Rocky Mountains at 14,500 feet msl was one of the many memorable experiences. Photo by Todd Green.
  • Volunteers Karen Marchetti and Jackson Thorn met the Greens at Scottsdale, Arizona, to take 11,250 N-95 masks to medical centers in the nearby Navajo Nation. Photo by Todd Green.

His 1,000-hour, instrument-rated father, Todd Green, was frustrated by the lack of general aviation activity at his home airfield, John Wayne Airport-Orange County in Santa Ana, California.

“I was looking for something useful to do when the pandemic hit,” Todd said. “How can we do something we love, and justify it by contributing to a good cause?”

His answer came in the form of a volunteer humanitarian flight that took the father-and-son duo across the country and back in the family’s 2006 Mooney Ovation. Their mission was to deliver 11,250 N-95 masks from Chicago to medical workers in the Navajo Nation near Scottsdale, Arizona. They also dropped off 1,250 masks for hospitals in rural Nebraska. The masks were acquired by a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping medical facilities obtain needed personal protective equipment in situations where the supplies are hard to come by.

In addition to contributing something helpful to medical professionals combating the pandemic, the father-son team was able to build a lasting memory together as Asher finishes his senior year in high school.

“This is probably the most memorable thing we have done together,” Todd said. He reflected on his deep enjoyment of three days of father-son time together engaging a shared passion, and “seeing how far he has come in his flight training.”

It was educational for the teenage student as well.

The two made stops for fuel, food, and rest in multiple states, and Asher said, “It was really interesting to see the different ways every part of the country is reacting to this crisis, how things are operating, how businesses keep going, and the major effect this is having on everyone.”

He learned a lot about long cross-country flying by helping his father with the flight planning. “Most student pilots don’t get to go beyond a 100-mile radius of home base even with their cross-country flights,” Asher said. “To do this trek across the country with such little time to plan—making plans about weather, and where to stay, and doing this all on the spot—I am glad I got to do this with my dad to make sure I’ll be prepared to do long-distance flights like this in the future.”

Asher said he anticipates completing his written and practical exams for his private pilot certificate in the coming weeks, his passion fueled all the more by this memorable experience with his father.

Chris Eads, AOPA Senior Director, Outreach and Events. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Chris Eads

AOPA Senior Director, Outreach and Events
Chris began working for AOPA in 2013, but has been a private pilot and AOPA member since 2001. He flies VFR all over the country both for fun and as a part of his role leading AOPA events and regional fly-ins.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying

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