Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Great Canine Escape

After a few hours of telephone tag on Friday, everything fell into place: Rich had successfully signed up his plane, The Baron, to participate in an animal rescue flight from North Carolina to New York, a reporter for the Washingtonian wanted to go along and cover the story, and there was still room for me to join.

Rich had agreed to fly Victor, a 78 pound German Shepherd from Rowan County, NC (KRUG) to Frederick, Maryland (KFDK). Another pilot would then take him the rest of the way to New York (KMGJ). The day dawned clear and cold, and the air was smooth, making for a pretty hour and a half flight.

As we flew, we answered Jessica's questions - which ranged from Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to Animal Rescue Flights (ARF) to navigational aids - and otherwise generally tried to infuse her with our love of flying.

We had a bit of a headwind on the way down, and arrived at KRUG (Salisbury, NC) to find an assortment of pilots, dogs, rescue workers, and even one Carolina Channel 14 crewman on the scene. News Channel 14 has since run their
story. (Click on the underlined word "story" to go to their webpage.) Rich and his plane - N285PT - get featured, and don't forget to look for the co-pilot in the orange hat too! (I registered with ARF last night, so next time Rich and I can tag team fly.)

16 dogs in total were being moved on Saturday from a shelter in South Carolina that would have euthanized them (as hard as it was to believe, given their incredibly sweet temperaments and appearances, these dogs were all on "death row") to a shelter, Pets Alive, in New York that will not euthanize them and is predicting a good chance of placing them in homes. The dogs were all very excited to get out of the van and socialize, making it a bit of a challenge for folks holding onto their leashes to stay untangled!

I wanted to take the fluffy mini St. Bernard, on the right below, home with me. After one pilot had to pull out, we ended up picking up an extra passenger, Nina, below on the left.

While we waited for everyone to get organized, Rich took a couple of them for a run to expend some energy. I tried to take Nina for a run, but she ended up "sliding" more than she was "running" and so we decided to stop doing that.

Victor was a big softy, who liked to jump up on his hind legs so you could hold him and rub his face. He was not much for "heeling", however, and so he walked me more than I walked him as he checked out the various sniffing points of interest around the airport.
With Victor in a crate in the baggage hold, and Nina on my lap, Jessica took the front seat for a better view and a detailed explanation of all the airplane instruments.

Nina was a great passenger, and settled down once we were airborn. It wasn't long before my 5 a.m. morning caught up with me and I was dozing too. We had a faster ride back to Frederick (just North of our home base of Gaithersburg) as a tailwind pushed us along.

When we arrived, Nina pulled an "Eddie" - standing up on my knees to watch inquisitively as Rich touched The Baron down and taxied into the airport. (To see more photos of The Great Escape (2/21/09 rescue) check out ARF's website.)

Although we had been the last to leave RUQ by about 30 minutes, the Baron overtook two of the planes in the air (it's not a competition, except that we won, eh?), so we introduced Nina and Victor to the pilots who would be flying them on to New York and waited for the others to arrive. AOPA was on site, as were the founders of ARF, and pilots were asked to pose with their passengers before handing them off.

Between pilots, friends and four legged passengers, it was quite an impressive turnout! Once we had finished posing for the below group shot, Rich, Jessica and I made a hasty retreat to the airport cafe for a late lunch. From Frederick, we went to Tipton so Rich could take advantage of the lower gas prices and refuel the Baron. As we took off for the fourth time in under eight hours, we teased Jessica that she had gone from a newbie to a seasoned general aviation passenger. She assured us that she was still impressed with the thrill of flying, and we are hopeful that will come through in her story in the Washingtonian.

All in all, it was the kind of day that makes you very glad to be a pilot.

(Since posting this, a few folks have asked me about donations. Pets Alive, the shelter that took these 16 little guys, accepts donations.)


At February 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Aw...makes me want a dog too :) Glad to hear that your flying adventures involved rescuing those poor dogs, hopefully they will find good home!

At February 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM , Blogger Greg said...

Congrats on a great flight for a great cause! I was flying on Saturday and heard ATC talking to a group of airplanes that were on a "dog rescue mission." I wondered if it was y'all.

At February 24, 2009 at 10:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

While no dog is cuter than Eddie, I have to confess there were some pretty irresistible faces in those blog pix! What a great way to help some lovely doggies looking for homes.

At March 9, 2009 at 9:35 PM , Blogger Jude said...

Hi Amy,
Who would have thought that becoming a pilot would lead you on a "save-the-dog mission". What fun and though I still think Eddie is by far the most handsome, I hope your passengers have acquired safe homes by now.
Too bad the Obamas have already chosen their new dog.
Cheers, Judy


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home