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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Avaiation Inspiration...

Mark Berney is a pilot...but not just any pilot... he is what GA and the world needs. Over in Bremerton, WA,  Mark has been hosting flying events for Foster kids and making a difference in lives of so many on so many levels. He's keeping aviation alive and inspiring the kids.

The event was a success: 

In Mark's words....

A warm mid-July marked the second annual TRAC airlift held at the Bremerton National Airport. The Kitsap Aviation Squadron again hosted the event, flying 17 campers and 18 staff personnel on scenic flights around the Kitsap peninsula. Our Squadron, with 30 flying members, operates a pair of Cessna aircraft. Eight pilots donated their expertise and time to fly the campers this year.

Teen Reach Adventure Camp, or TRAC, is a three day camp program that pulls in foster care teenagers from the local community. The camp is held on two consecutive summer weekends, the first for girls and the second for boys. Run by volunteers, TRAC provides fellowship, games and other adventures for the campers. The waterfront town of Indianola served as home base, but before the kids arrived to set up camp, they took a trip to the airport for a chance to spread their wings!

This year’s girl’s camp arrived at the airport at 1:00 pm, on Friday the 11th. New faces, as well as some friends from last year’s event filed off the bus and into the port building. On seeing a particular camper for the second time, I suspected I’d have lots of questions to answer regarding my flying career, airplanes and my knowledge of Minnesota. (My suspicions were correct! She and I would have a really nice conversation as she waited her turn to fly.)

After a welcome and a safety briefing, it was time to fly! Pilots Val Tollefeson and Steve Jennings were lined up to operate the 172, while Steve Charboneau would start off in the 182, with a planned hand-off to Terry Bryant mid-way through the event. Val got off the ground first and headed North with a camper and two counselors aboard.

Steve, along with a camper and a staff member, was just getting airborne when he detected a vibration he didn’t like. Checking the engine monitor revealed a lack of EGT on one cylinder and he wisely choose to return to the field. Unfortunately the 182 would be scratched for the remainder of the day. Steve’s young passenger, however, was unphased by the quick trip around the pattern and was “good-to-go” for a full flight later in the day.

Fortunately, 172 operations rolled along smoothly. Val completed two flights, and handed the aircraft off to Terry for a couple flights. Steve Jennings finished the day with a single flight in the 172. In all, we completed six of a planned eight flights. Despite the setback, all campers that wanted to fly got up, including the young lady from the shortened 182 flight!

One week later, we did it all again for the boy’s camp. The 182 was back on line, and both aircraft performed well. David Brenegan and Grant Blackinton staffed the 172, while Jay Villalva and Don Dicksion piloted the 182. Both planes got up and down smoothly all afternoon and eight flights were dispatched without a hitch.

This summer’s kids were a mix of brand new and slightly more seasoned fliers. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of a young person’s first flight experience. Seeing a few returning kids that now have a bit of a “long term” relationship with the Bremerton Airport, our pilots, and our aircraft was quite rewarding, as well. It was a great privilege to be involved in these kid’s lives through this brief, but very special event.

A huge thanks is due to Bremerton National Airport director Fred Salisbury and his staff. They were not only supportive of this mission, but downright enthusiastic to have the kids back for a second year. And finally, thanks again to our eight pilots that made this happen!

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