With a longstanding interest in aviation, Eric went on a discovery flight in 2018 and was instantly hooked. “Angel Flight West was on my mind from the very first day of flight training,” says Eric. “I knew aviation was not accessible to everyone and that learning to fly would be a great way to further my philanthropic ambitions. During training, I was focused on building time to meet the 250-hour AFW requirement for Command Pilots.”
Eric has been an active volunteer pilot since 2020. In the last three months alone, he’s flown an incredible 13 times to help passengers travel to their far-off care, bringing his current lifetime missions to 38.
Each flight has reinforced Eric’s decision to share his aviation skills and resources with the rest of the world. “My first flight was with a child battling cancer,” Eric recalls. “He’s had an incredibly tough journey, and I had the honor of flying him and his family to his medical appointment and back home.”
As an owner of a TBM 940 aircraft, Eric often signs up for long-range missions that would typically require one or two stopping points. Just last month, he flew a passenger from Burbank back home to Hamilton, Montana — more than 1,150 miles when traveling by car. Knowing missions with multiple legs can be difficult to fill, Eric looks for missions in which he can combine both legs. “Eric has been invaluable to our mission, always willing to go the extra mile,” says Associate Executive Director Cheri Cimmarrusti. “Just this year, he has flown missions from his home base in Southern California to Boise, ID, Medford, OR, Ogden, UT and Globe, AZ. Our entire team appreciates the contributions he has made, both as a board member and as a volunteer pilot.”
As a volunteer-driven organization, AFW looks to its board for leadership and guidance in all areas of operations. In his role as a board member, Eric utilizes his business background to serve on the finance and audit committees.
To the extent they’re able, Eric believes all pilots should include compassion flying in their list of reasons to take to the skies. “Flying is a privilege,” he says. “Once you complete your first mission, it’ll be contagious. AFW is a way for me to serve others, even if I’m only touching their lives in a small way. These passengers do as much for me as I do for them.”