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  • Writer's picturePilot Julian J.


It was an early morning start. I arrived at the airport to preflight the aircraft and prepare our crates at 6:45 a.m. Our first set of pets were set to arrive at 7:30 a.m. Talk to most pilots and they'll tell you there is nothing better than taking off with the sunrise. It's cool outside which means improved performance and the ground hasn't accumulated enough heat to be radiating turbulence yet.

Right on time, ground volunteer Lorrie Friedman met me at Hawthorne with our first 7 canine passengers and we were off to Fresno to pick up the next set of passengers.

When we arrived in Fresno, 59 minutes after departing from the Hawthorne airport, that's when things started really heating up. Upon walking into the lobby we were greeted by Colleen Cabral of Foster Paws of Fresno as well as a slew of homeless pets looking for love. On this day, we had to figure out how to fit an additional 19 dogs and 15 cats to the 7 dogs that were already on board. On top of that, it was very hot so I was trying to load up our pet passengers as quickly as possible to get us back up to altitude where it is colder. Ideal face covering weather....NOT.

(Sidebar: I'd like to take a moment here to thank Signature Flight Support - FAT so much for their warm hospitality. They handled a massive petting zoo in their lobby as well as waived our ramp / handling fees. Every FBO has different policies on waiving fees for charities and Signature at Fresno Yosemite is by far the most generous and cooperative!)

Once loaded, we took to the skies headed for Bend, OR to meet with Cascade Canine Rescue East & West (CCREW) and Soft Paws Rescue Oregon. The flight up from Fresno was only 2:15 as opposed to what would have been a 15+ hour drive. After Bend a quick 20 minutes flight to Eugene to drop off our initial 7 passengers to Loved Again Pets. Atlantic Aviation FBO also gave us a nice discount of nearly 50% on our handling fee.

All of our pick ups and drop offs went very smoothly and I'm pleased to say that we arrived within 5 minutes of our estimated arrival times at each waypoint! One last leg to Fresno to drop off some crates and we were on our way home to Hawthorne - greeted by the sea of city lights beginning to illuminate as the sun sank further.

I would like to thank everyone that made this trip possible - all the ground volunteers, my flight volunteer for the day Annie (a commercial pilot in training), our rescue partners listed and of course all of the FBO line crew helping us out.



1,573 Miles Flown Round Trip

267 Gallons Fuel Used

41 Total Pets (26 Dogs / 15 Cats)

7.8 Flight Hours

Tail Number: N37U

ATD (Hawthorne): 8:25 a.m.

ATA (Hawthorne): 7:57 p.m.

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