General Aviation Is a Community Like No Other

Heartfelt missions, such as delivering rescue animals to forever homes or offering free flights for cancer patients to attend treatment, are all part of the GA community.

Tom Kenealy (left) and John McCormick get ready to depart KRME. [Credit: Lisa deFrees]

General aviation brings us so many options when it comes to what aircraft we would choose if we could own our own. While we often talk about the airplane fitting the mission, there are multiple roles that a pilot can play in the community with the right tool.

I’d like to share a few that have recently added to my sense of gratitude and admiration for our GA family.

A few months ago, a neighbor from my former hometown of Rome, New York, reached out to see if I knew someone they could contact to take their father, Tom Kenealy, flying on his 92nd birthday. A Korean War veteran, Mr. Kenealy devoted his life to his community and serving others, especially veterans.

Having moved from New York a few years ago, I thought it best to post this request to social media to see who was around at KRME, Griffiss International Airport in Rome. Within minutes, a half dozen willing friends—and friends of friends—had messaged me. John McCormick, a member of the Adirondack Flying Club, generously offered his time, and took Mr. Kenealy into the air for his celebratory flight. As an added bonus, John flew him over the now-closed Sampson Air Force Base, on the east side of Seneca Lake, where Tom had been stationed during the war.

I was recently rescued from what felt like a never-ending, multi-day layover in Atlanta by a friend who works for the Aero Atlanta Flight Center, Glenn Lindsey. He saw my post about being stuck and offered to fly me home. For Glenn, helping a friend in need was simply “a good reason to go flying”—and a great application of GA to solve a problem.

Earlier this year, a fellow aviator launched his jet to the Midwest after a beloved member of the pilot community was killed in an airplane accident. His mission? To fly his friend home to his family and final resting place. For him, it was unquestionably “the right thing to do” and something that only could be accomplished with your own jet.

We could fill countless volumes of FLYING with stories like this, and many more. Rescue animals delivered to forever homes, free flights for cancer patients to attend treatment in faraway medical centers, fighting forest fires across the country, search-and-rescue missions to get folks to help quickly—these are all part of the extraordinary work of our aviation community. It’s like no other.

In every issue of FLYING, our goal is to inspire and guide you along the path of flying and owning whatever aircraft best suits your interest. But more important than what you choose to invest in, is what you do with it when you do. Blue skies to you, whatever that mission might be.

Lisa DeFrees is Publisher of FLYING Media Group. She's a student pilot and has been with FLYING for 27 years. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her dog, Chuck Yeager.

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