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Endeavor Awards – AOPA Writeup

Party under the space shuttle

Public benefit flying feted at Endeavor Awards

June 1, 2015
By Julie Summers Walker

The good pilots are doing to help others was given a Hollywood bash May 30 at the Los Angeles Science Center.

Movie stars and movie clips lent some Hollywood flair to the second annual Endeavor Awards, which combine celebrity, remarkable surroundings, and fanfare to honor those who contribute their time, money, and aircraft to help others. Hosted by “aspiring” pilot actor Greg Kinnear, the Endeavor Awards were created by Mark Wolper, a Hollywood producer and an active pilot who works extensively with Angel Flight West.

Honorees included 91-year-old pilot John Billings, who flies for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic; Rick Durden, who flies for LightHawk; and Steve Purello, who flies for Angel Flight Southeast. Each received a $15,000 grant for their organization to help continue its work.

Billings, a retired Eastern Airlines captain who flew the B-24 Liberator in World War II, has flown more than 300 missions for Angel Flight. He places a stuffed animal in the seat of his aircraft for his passengers. “The greatest payment I get is a big hug,” he said after receiving his recognition. “That’s my salary.”


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