NTSB Hosts Volunteer Pilot Safety Seminar

Flying Paws volunteers with their furry passenger

By Debbie Hersman

General James Doolittle led the first American air raid of World War II with all volunteers. He said later, “Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” That is so true. Volunteerism in America goes back to our country’s founding 235 years ago, and the spirit of volunteerism is still alive and well.

Today, volunteer pilots transport patients for medical treatment. They also transport donated organs, fly disaster relief flights, patrol our waterways, and perform search-and-rescue missions. These men and women work with the Armed Forces, the Department of Homeland Security, nonprofit organizations, and even other foreign governments to keep people safe. They give of their own time, resources, and equipment to perform these missions, many of which would remain undone were it not for their belief in the importance of the mission, dedication, and self sacrifice.

Sadly, sometimes this dedication can come with painful consequences. The pressures to move patients to where they can receive needed treatment, to get an organ to a hospital on time, or to fly into an unsafe environment so that injured or stranded people can be evacuated can be a powerful motivator that overrides sound judgment about deteriorating weather, pilot currency and proficiency, equipment familiarity, training, and crew resource management.

That’s why the NTSB, along with Angel Flight and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), hosted a Volunteer Pilot Safety Stand Down/Seminar at the NTSB Training Center in Ashburn, Virginia. Two hundred volunteer pilots from a variety of organizations attended this full day of presentations and engaged in discussions about safety issues that directly relate to their missions. Pilots from Angel Flight, Civil Air Patrol, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flying Paws, and many others attended. I was delighted to present the keynote address to the seminar.

The NTSB participated in this important training symposium because it addresses critical safety issues. During our accident investigations, we repeatedly see the tragic consequences of poor decision making. Through events like this, we can share what we’ve learned with pilots in the hope that the lessons can help prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future. With a renewed awareness of aviation’s inherent dangers, we want pilots to safely fly these important missions and continue that spirit of volunteerism.

3 thoughts on “NTSB Hosts Volunteer Pilot Safety Seminar”

  1. To : Debbie Hersman,
    Hello , My name is Karen Bartley, I am a retired lady truck driver, of 37 + years, with only a mere 3 million + miles… (Safe Accident free)

    Now that Stephanie, (hence you article on the way to MATS) that is suppose to have 2.74 Million miles down the road, that roughly would be pretty close to 20 + years of driving…

    Did she have log books to prove it, or a boss that would prove it…??? Or CDL traceable back 20 years… ???

    I challenge her to step up and prove it… I can prove my over 3 million. And funny when I started in 1965 did not see all of there super lady driver’s that are suddenly out there, claming fame and the glory of all the miles they did down the superslab…

    How old is Stephanie, when did she first get her truck driving lic… And yes you had to prove you had it many times a week… Back then…

    I signed up for your site so will be waiting for proof, to the claim to fame by you and Stephanie…

    Make it a good day…
    God Bless…
    Karen L. Bartley… Ready to send my proof or three million plus, miles, down the superslab… Anywhere or place needed…

    1. Dear Karen,

      I agree with you – there aren’t many women working in the trucking industry – today they make up only 6 per cent of professional drivers. Attracting women to this profession is one of the reasons why I spoke at the Salute to Women and why I went on the road with some of these drivers: Stephanie Klang of Con-way, Jill Garcia with Schneider, Angela Jordan with US Xpress and Mary Jo Carty with Walmart. For more information about the other women who were honored for their many years of safe driving in Louisville, KY, on Saturday, including two drivers that have 4 million miles of safe driving behind the wheel, please see Women In Trucking’s press release.

      Thank you for your commitment to professional driving. Your record of safety over 3 million accident–free miles is impressive. Keep up the great work!


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