Command Pilot and Safety Officer Rich Pickett
Some of you might have already heard of Rich Pickett as one of our own who had contracted the COVID virus and survived. This is our time to formally introduce him in the following Q and A. Be sure and read his article on this blog entitled AFW Safety News.
1. How long have you been with AFW?
I’ve been a member since 2013, and Jane [my wife] recently became an Earth Angel.
2) How did you hear about the organization?
My wife Jane met Josh at an aviation convention and said I should join! We had flown a number of other volunteer and disaster relief missions throughout the US, Mexico, and Caribbean and it seemed like the perfect organization to join, which it was!
3) When did you become a pilot and why?
Jane and I were in graduate school in 1977 working on our doctorates in Pharmacy/Neuroscience/Genetics at University of Colorado, and I took a flight with her brother. Despite not liking heights, after my Cessna demo flight I had my PPL two months later. Within two years, I had my CFII SME. Two months later, I left the Boulder Police Department to become John and Martha King’s first instructor for their ground school courses, teaching nearly 2,000 students in 18 months. I’m obsessed with flying and every position I’ve had, and company that I’ve formed, had to involve flying as part of my work. Whether that was a Police Detective for Boulder; Professor and Administrator at various universities; an ABC TV Meteorologist; my aerial mapping company; or presently with my aviation company Personal Wings and, of course, AFW volunteering. After flying 110 makes and models of aircraft, I still smile when I take to the air!
3) What are the things you feel are most important to relate to our pilot volunteers as the AFW Safety Officer?
Flying is a constant learning experience, and one of the most important aspects of flying is to maintain proficiency and advance aviation skills. Participation in safety seminars provided by the FAA and others, as well as going beyond the FAA minimums for currency, are critical to aviation safety and fun. Personally, I complete three-to-five flight instruction training events each year, and I always learn something even after 42 years and nearly 12,000 flight hours.
4) Has being a COVID survivor changed anything for you?
Trying to catch up on flying after being grounded for six weeks has been challenging. With my science background, I understood the disease to an extent; however, being personally affected to such a degree was an experience. My medical team was surprised by my strong recovery, and I promised them I would help educate others on the disease, which I try to do when flying around the country.
5) What would you say is the most important thing you’d like others to know about being a volunteer for Angel Flight West?
First, my appreciation to the Earth Angels, Mission Assistants, and Command Pilots who, through their efforts, are making a significant difference in the lives of our patients and their companions. Their efforts, along with the deep passion of our staff, Board of Directors, and donors are Angel Flight West. I can see and hear the impact their missions have had on them when we get together, even virtually!
6) Anything else you’d like to add?
Always feel free to reach out and let us know how we, at Angel Flight West, can help you with any aspects of our volunteer missions.