A New Leash On Life

As car guys, one of the most memorable and fulfilling things is to be able to grow up working on a car with your dad. Enjoying weekends or evenings under the hood can create a very strong bond and leave memories that last for years to come. In the world of aviation, one pilot is deciding to do a lot more.

I had the pleasure of being invited to do a little flying with private pilot Martin Hobson and his son Alex this weekend for a very special cause; rescuing dogs in need of loving families and new homes for a group called Pilots N Paws. Let me tell you it was one of the most enjoyable weekends I have ever had. Let me tell you how this weekend came about.

I’ve been a pilot since ’98 and have flown from time to time to keep my skills up, but I haven’t flown in the last couple of years nearly as much I would like to and I started to look for ways I could get in the air but offer a hand to those who needed pilots. Along my journey to find a path into the air someone mentioned a dog rescue website, www.pilotsnpaws.org, which I learned flew hundreds of dogs every year to new homes. Most of these dogs are abandoned or are rescued from pounds or animal shelters where they are scheduled to be put to sleep. Immediately I knew this is where I wanted to help as much as I could. I sent emails to several pilots in the PA/MD/VA area and let them know I was more than happy to offer my skills to help with some of these flights.

Honestly Martin had invited me twice before I accepted the ride last weekend, and as I sit writing this I am upset with my-self that I didn’t take him up on the previous offers.

I arrived in Mannassas, VA early that morning and enjoyed a quick breakfast while I waited for Martin to arrive at the airport. After a brief greeting we went to work with pre-flight checks and warmed up the Piper Archer. In no time we were off and headed southwest toward Orange County Virginia where we would pick up our pooches for this trip. When we arrived Luke, who I’m told was a mix of Irish Wolf hound and Border Collie was waiting for us on the ground.

Luke, Alex and I.

Moments later our Golden Retriever, Sammie, landed.

Alex, the family who brought Sammie up, Martin, and of course Sammie!

Sammie’s is a real heartbreaking, yet heartwarming story. In fact this is the second time Martin has flown Sammie for the Retriever rescue and she holds a special place in his and Alex’s heart. Before Sammie found a good home she was badly neglected and beaten by her former owners which left her blind in one eye and due to a car accident while riding in the back of the owner’s truck, she suffered injuries and was not taken to a vet. and loss of the use of one leg. Since being rescued she has received A LOT of love and treatment as well as therapy and does have the use of that limb again but she still prefers to stay off of it. Were hoping that with a little more therapy work she will be confident enough to rely on it like she used to.

Once we were all on board we headed north to New Windsor, NY where Luke’s new person was there waiting to take him to his new home.

Judy, Luke, Alex, Sammie and Martin

Alex was enjoying a chocolate chip cookie so there was NO WAY Luke and Sammie were going to pay me any attention now!

From New Windsor, NY it was now off to Hartford, CT to finally get Sammie to a permanent home. Once on the ground it was very easy to see that she had found exactly what she needed. The family who picked her up was very happy to see Sammie and gave her lots of love.

As I mentioned before Martin and Alex had worked with Sammie before and even had her spend the night with them until she was able to be flown to the last home she enjoyed so it was definitly a long goodbye for Martin, Alex and Sammie.

On the flight back to Manassas I had quite a lot of time to think about the trip and really reflect on the impact of how truly magnificent the day was. It’s very, very hard to arrange a transaction where everyone gets a benefit, but it happened Saturday. I was able to log some much needed time, Martin finally got to enjoy looking out the window instead of doing the busy work at the controls. Alex and Sammie got to enjoy each other’s company once again. New families got new pups and most of all, the dogs were able to get the much needed love and good homes they deserved.

Martin has offered to let me know when his next trip is planned. It was a long day in an aircraft and I’m still recovering from it, but who can turn down the opportunity to see a happy face like this…

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