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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedFly For Life: Profiles in Caring

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Name: Kevin Sell, EAA 800002

Affiliated Organization: Volunteer Pilots Association (VPA)

Type/model aircraft operated in mission or public benefit flying? Where is most of your flying activity? PA28-235 Pathfinder. Northeast U.S.

When did you become involved in mission or public benefit flying, and why?
I started in 1989, but volunteering and getting involved was instilled in me from childhood. After getting my instrument rating, and flying around the same six VORs looking for great restaurants for a couple of years, I thought, "There must be something else I can do with my pilot's license." About that time I'd heard about a group in Atlanta that was flying patients, and figured, "Why not?"

What is the most memorable flight you have ever had, and why?
I would have to say the first organ mission I flew, to transport a donor liver, from Teterboro, New Jersey, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a transplant. I picked it up about 1 a.m., and the whole flight I kept thinking things like, "Holy cow! I'm flying human body parts for a lifesaving transplant," and, "God, I hope I'm not late." Everything worked out great-the patient successfully received the transplant!

All my work has provided tremendous satisfaction. However, there are really two experiences which I consider worth mentioning to you:
9/11/2001: On that very afternoon I was asked by Angel Flight of Oklahoma to help get blood and related supplies from Oklahoma to New York City. Once we learned that we were able to fly, it only took a few minutes to set up, and we flew the mission that night. For the next couple of weeks we made multiple flights to fly blood, rescue dogs, emergency personnel, respirators, and even cigars and cigarettes to NYC.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina I hopped a flight as co-pilot, carrying two doctors and medical supplies to Biloxi, Mississippi. I then stayed on the ground for a week in Biloxi and a week in Baton Rouge coordinating flights full of emergency supplies coming in from the various Air Care Alliance (ACA) organizations, and trying to fill the empty seats with evacuees so the planes didn't return home empty.

I mention these two events specifically because, through what I witnessed, it forever reinforced my belief in the human spirit and compassion through seeing so many people coming together to help so many more people affected by tragedy.

What would you like EAA members to know about the type of flying you do?
That it has to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I've learned so much more about life and people. I've met so many great people, been to so many interesting and wonderful places, and it has opened up so many incredible opportunities to me, just because I got involved.

Why is the Fly for Life program important to EAA AirVenture 2009 attendees?
It has often been said that we're the "best kept secret." By now, with the Internet, newspapers, and magazines, as well as the EAA, AOPA, and the ACA, I would say that most pilots have probably heard about public benefit flying, in one or more of its many forms. But I'll bet that many of those pilots want to get involved and have questions that they would rather have answered by a real person, instead of "press one for English."

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