On October 14th 2017 we flew down to Roanoke Virginia to participate in a “Wings of Appreciation” flight for a group of our Great Veterans……. following is a little about WOA.
Wings of Appreciation (WOA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing flights in private aircraft to wounded or hospitalized men and women who have or are serving our country in the armed forces. The purpose of the flight is to show those who have served that their commitment to our country is appreciated.
WOA has events all across the United States. A typical event will take a group from the hospital to a local airport, place them in private aircraft, and fly to a designated destination. Many of the events will also provide lunch for the participants. The pilots will then fly back to the airport of origination, and participants will return to their facility.
Flights are typically under an hour each way from takeoff to touchdown. All pilots are FAA certified, have appropriate insurance and flight experience. Under no circumstances will flights be conducted if weather is not clear or there is forecasted turbulence for the planned flights.
WOA uses an event leader to coordinate pilot, ground control, and food related activities. We work closely with the medical facility coordinator to identify appropriate participants and facilitate the event, including transportation to/from a local airport.
This particular Saturday morning was one that had fairly low cloud cover over the entire area. The ceiling was at about 1200 feet agl with the top around 3000 feet. Due to this, the event was delayed by one hour to determine if today would be suitable (for this event the weather needs to be clear and free of turbulence) So we delayed our departure from home base by one hour, but still the cloud cover was solid. We received no further word, so we departed home base heading for Roanoke. We climbed up thru the cloud deck (Which was solid but not all that thick) and came out on top into the beautiful morning sun with only the hints of mountain tops poking thru. Our ride was smooth as glass and absolutely stunning as we surfed over the cloud tops that reached out as far as the eye could see. We were given an Instrument Approach into Roanoke and punched back down thru the clouds landing in conditions that were much like home base Luray.
We had a good turn out of Volunteer Pilots and soon the Veterans arrived. At this point it was a waiting game to see it the skies would clear, but the time was in no way wasted because we all got to mingle and exchange some great conversation ! It was not too long before conditions at Roanoke improved, but there was still a problem….. our destination for flying the Veterans (which was still under some fairly solid cloud cover) was Smith Mountain Lake where a nice lunch would be waiting for all. So after waiting awhile longer a decision was made to drive the Veterans over so that they could at least enjoy a very nice lunch which was ready and waiting for them.
So we (the Pilots) decided not to give up on the day and departed one by one heading for Smith Mountain Lake. Just to make things clear, we had no issues getting into the Airport at Smith Mountain Lake, we just could not do it with the Veterans onboard due to the weather requirements a Wings of Appreciation flight requires.
So after we all ended up over at Smith Mountain Lake we joined back up with the Veterans that had already arrived by van and we all had a great lunch together. Along with the great food we had great comradeship with all the Veterans, each one having helped so much in keeping America safe with their unselfish service to our Great Country ! We salute all of our Veterans, past and present !
When it was time to finish up at the Lake, the skies had cleared and the Veterans finally got to take to the air ! Some just went up for a short flight around the Lake and some flew back to Roanoke after a scenic flight over the Lake……. We departed with Veteran John Cahoon (U.S. Army Aviator) and after circling over the lake, we headed back to Roanoke. I (Nevin) set in the back so that John C. could be upfront in the Co-Pilots seat beside of Captain John. Captain John asked John C. if he would like to take over the controls……. which he readily said yes….. and he done a very good job ! (Once an Aviator, always an Aviator) After landing back in Roanoke, we took some pictures, said our goodbyes, got some fuel, then departed ……. heading back to home base Luray.
Although we had some time delays due to the weather, the day turned out great…… and I think a good time was had by all !
(CLICK HERE) to visit “Wings of Appreciation” website
Following are photos of our Great Day !