Volunteer Flying and Safety

In aviation, one of the great things about a new year is the anticipation of the aviation events that lie ahead. On a national level this year we're looking forward to Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture as well as numerous other airshows. However, don't overlook all of the events that go on at your local airport as well. On any given weekend there are local aerobatic performances, hot air balloon launches, pancake breakfasts, burger flipping lunches, spaghetti dinners or even something just as simple as some friends gathering at the airport to celebrate flight.

What do airshows and volunteering have in common? Most, if not all of these events, would not happen without an army of volunteers. These volunteers give freely of their time and talents, which is what makes most flying events great. Volunteers are the backbone of any successful event, thus the saying, "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer."

At the volunteer events around my home airport (KAPA), a lot of flying happens. We fly Young Eagles for the EAA; patients for a local rehabilitation hospital as part of their therapy; kids with disabilities, who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to experience flying in a general aviation aircraft; and we work with Aluminum Overcast, a WWII vintage B-17 bomber.

Before each event begins we start off with a safety briefing. These briefings keep us focused on what the operation will be for that event and the responsibility each person has to make the event safe. At some events there may be up to 20 aircraft all moving at the same time. The safe coordination of these aircraft movements is like a well rehearsed dance - it is so much fun to watch.

You do not have to be a pilot to volunteer. You do not need a certain skill set to volunteer. The best volunteer is an enthusiastic person who wants to participate in the event and not be a spectator. So, go out and volunteer and feel the warmth of giving radiate from your soul. Your community will thank you for it!

About the Author: Tom Letts is a Functional Analyst at Jeppesen and is a native of Colorado, born in Durango. He learned to fly while in college at Metropolitan State University of Denver where he received a BS Degree in Aviation. Tom holds a Commercial Certificate ASMEL, I-A. In addition, he also holds a CFI-ASE, an Advanced Ground Instructor and FAA 121 Dispatch certificates. Tom is currently the Director of Safety for Jeppesen Employees Flying Association (JEFA), as well as a FAAST team Representative. Tom's passion is promoting aviation to the next generation of pilots.

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