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Home » Paul Hesse

Volunteer Pilots Network

By Paul Hesse (May 2015)

Volunteer Pilots Network

Rick Gutlon began his private pilot training with Empire Aviation in 2005 when the flight school was based at the Lake Ridge Airport in Durham. He passed his private pilot check ride during the summer of 2006.

Rick Gutlon

Rick Gutlon

Since 2011 Rick has flown more than 70 animal rescue flights as he builds time to participate in other volunteer organizations such as Angel Flight (that require a minimum of 500 hrs PIC and an instrument rating) and Lighthawk.

“These flights have added both purpose and a mission to flying” explained Rick. “They’ve expanded my flight experiences, allowed me to work with some remarkably compassionate people, promote general aviation and deal with flight logistics … all things I enjoy. But most importantly, I’ve been able to use my pilot’s license as a means to help others.”

Earlier this year Rick launched the Volunteer Pilots Network to bring awareness to the more than 80 organizations that rely on volunteer pilots for their humanitarian programs, also known as public benefit flying.  “I’ve found many pilots have questions about these flights whether they involve animals, patients, medical or other types of transport. I wanted to create a destination where volunteer pilots can interact as a community.”

To help promote the program, Rick is offering Empire Aviation students a Volunteer Pilots Network T-shirt at his cost. If interested, send Rick a note or check-in with Paul for pricing.