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Volunteer Pilot AwardsFlight Season: May 2010 - April 2011
Rookie of the Year Award Denise Corcoran (Dover, NH)
The Rookie of the Year Award recognizes a pilot who joined LightHawk during the preceding May to April flight year and immediately began contributing greatly to the organization. Since we first talked to Denise during her Orientation Interview, we knew we were signing up a great pilot for the Mesoamerican program, not only for her impressive flying resume, but also forthe good questions that we were asked about the program itself. You could tellfrom the start that she wanted to be ready and prepared. On top of that, once wescheduled some missions for her in Guatemala, she decided to leave, on her own,two weeks prior to the flights, so she could take a two-week intensive Spanishcourse.No surprises, this pilot did a great job, all partners enjoying flying with her, and weare definitely happy to work with her.
The Rockwell Award recognizes a VP who embodies the generous spirit and flexibility of VP Bill Rockwell. A veteran of the World War II and the Korean War, and a LightHawk pilot from 1993 until 2000, Bill really cared about the earth and making a contribution, but he was never the kind of person who took an extreme stance on issues. He believedthat by educating people and showing them places so that they truly understoodwhat was in the balance people we could help people make choices that weregood for humanity. And Bill was always ready and willing to go the extra mile forLightHawk.Like Bill, this years Rockwell Award recipient, Jim Grady, has demonstratedexceptional generosity and flexibility. Between May 2010 and April 2011 he flew 7missions in 4 different states for a total of 32 flight hours...averaging more thanfour hours per mission.
From his home in western Colorado he traveled to far southwest Utah to assist GrandCanyon Trust with their efforts to protect special places in Fishlake National Forest. Heflew to Nevada to help with a study of the invasive shrub tamarisk, beetles that eat it,and endangered southwest willow flycatchers that nest in it. He donated flights toeducate policy makers and media about the special wild places in Wyomings RedDesert. Some of his flights were out of his home airport, Grand Junction, helpingColorado Open Lands monitor conservation easements and the Sonoran Instituteencourage smart growth of local communities. More recently, he saved the day byflying to New Mexico on threedays’ notice, while simultaneouslyworking with his broker to get us anew insurance certificate in thosethree days, to assist with efforts torestore and protect the San JuanRiver. Jim Grady has flown in allthese locations, helping protectsuch a diverse set of ecosystems,all while repeatedly telling uswhen we thanked him thatLightHawk is doing HIM a favor.
President’s Award Bill Rush (Boulder Creek, CA)
The Presidents Award recognizes a VP who embodies the true spirit of volunteerism. The pilot has often gone above and beyond, demonstrating their dedication not only to LightHawks mission, but to other organizations as well. And this year’s nominee is no exception: he certainly keeps himself busy. When he is not flying for LightHawk in the US or Mesoamerica, Bill Rush is flying volunteer missions in Baja California with Baja Comunidad, bringing doctors and medical equipment to remote indigenous communities, and helping to keep the group’soperations flowing. Bill first became a LightHawk pilot in 2009, and has since become anindispensable part of the VP corps in both the Pacific and Mesoamerica regions.Bill has an easygoing, unflappable attitude that belies his skill and competency as a pilot.His contagious smile infects those around him, instantly putting his passengers at ease.When he’s on a LightHawk flight in the Pacific, he’ll do his best to take his gravity-boundprogram manager with him. It’s not uncommon for us to get a text from Bill halfwaythrough a day of flights saying, “Having a blast! You should be here.”
Armando Ubeda (left) and Bill Rush (right)To gives you a sense of his unflappability, Bill called Armando Ubeda from Honduras tocheck in after a LightHawk flight in the 206. He said: “Hey Armando, I’m back… everythingwent well. The partners really enjoyed the flight, and I think they’re happy with theresults…” “…however, we had an encounter with the Honduran Air Force. They thought wemight be a drug plane and dispatched a patrol plane. We were on the ground by the timethey arrived on scene.” Just the words a program manager wants to hear! In the end, it allworked out – it was all a misunderstanding. Bill’s calm voice and attitude helped Armandonot to worry, and undoubtedly Bill’s people skills helped him smooth things over with a fewgrumpy officials.
Bobcats, blackbirds, and bears…oh my. This year’s Carpenter Award goes to a pilot who is quickly becoming LightHawk’s wildlife flying guru, Janice Newman. It’s not enough that she shares Mexican Wolf flying duties with her business partner and friend, Tom Haas; it’s come to the point that we figure Janice is going to the mission board daily and quickly scanning for the word bobcat, bird, bear, wolf and the like, and then hitting the submit button as soon as she sees a wildlife mission – missions that help protect or reintroduce one of these magnificent species. In the past year alone, Janice has flown endangered Mexican wolves to new homes in the southwest, helped ID radio-collared bobcats in southern New Hampshire –several times, tracked the wanderings of Rusty Blackbirds in the White Mountains, takenyoung Aplomado falcons about to start their new lives to their release site in Texas andmore. And for Janice, it isn’t just the doing of it, but the quality of the doing that matters.Cold cabin for 8 hours? No problem. Antennae back on the struts of the plane? OK.Questions about what bedding wolves might be most comfortable in? Ask Janice. All ofthose hours stacked up made her one of our highest flight hour pilots this year; and all ofthat attentive care and generosity? That makes her the kind of pilot we dream of atLightHawk.
Spirit of LightHawk Award David Cole (Meeker, CO)
This award is given to a pilot that represent the best the Volunteer Pilot Corp has to offer, that is outstanding to work with, that it is one of the top five pilots with more hours flown for LightHawk in the preceding year. We are supposed to tell you about all the great things that David Cole has done to win this award, and you would think that based on the description of the award itself, it would be easier to do so, but no.The winner of this year is so exceptional that we had a hard time finding the right words tosummarize why he is a winner. But we will try.Despite being new to the Mesoamerican program, this past season, David flew through 5different countries and flew missions in Mexico, Belize and Panama. His dedication, superbpilot experience and charming personality made every mission a successful one; passengerslove him, even custom officers and “comandantes” from the Mexican civil aviation like him.He also has been a great LightHawk ambassador making great connections wherever he goes;easy to work with and enthusiastic about our conservation work in North and Central America.
Stick-to-itiveness Award Merry Schroeder (Santa Fe, NM) and Richard Hoover (Corrales, NM)
This award recognizes two pilots who have demonstrated extreme flexibility in the face ofwind, fire, and partner and passenger schedule changes, signing up for--between the two ofthem--30 flights for one partner organization over the past year, only 3 of which actuallyresulted in passengers flying over the Pecos Wilderness and surrounding areas as planned.Seven flights were cancelled by smoke and fire, ten by wind and ten by passenger schedulingissues, yet these pilots persevered through all the changes to do what they could to promotethe protection of wild lands in their home state of New Mexico. For their extreme flexibilityunder very trying conditions, we’re pleased to honor Merry Schroeder and Richard Hooverwith the Stick-to-itiveness Award.
Platinum FlyersIn honor of 15 years of service to LightHawk Since 1996
Reg Goodwin - MT Dick Walker - ID Polly Ross – Aspen, CO (pictured) Barry Harper – Cimarron, NMBob Peterson - ID
This multi-talented individual has helped LightHawk in so many ways this past year, in addition to flying more than 90 hours in his own airplane.Need someone to plan a flight route to demonstrate the essence of LightHawks mission todonors and potential donors? Need someone to help a new program manager get to knowBozemans environmental community? Or someone who can serve as a geomorphology guideas well as pilot and photographer? How about someone who’ll extend a mission and campovernight just to help a fellow photographer capture the perfect image...This pilot always manages to appear when he is most needed. Its a bird...its a RedPlane...its Chris Boyer — LightHawks very own Superman.
Wolf PackWe honor the pilots who participateon our wolf transport flights. You are our Wolf Pack.