Greetings from The Aero Experience Team

Greetings!



The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team












Saturday, February 20, 2021

Farmington, MO Regional Airport Digs Out from Winter Storm

By Fred Harl
The Midwest was enjoying an unusually pleasant winter until last week, when the temperatures went down into the teens and 6-8 inches of snow blanketed the region. Even the most efficient general aviation airports took a day or two to clean up and resume limited service levels. Our pictorial below shows the crew at Farmington, MO Regional Airport cleaning up this week following the snow storm, making sure the pad was clear for the medical services helicopter.





Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Aviation Community Salutes Career of Pilot Dick Horowitz, Part 3

By Carmelo Turdo
The aviation community salutes the career of pilot and humanitarian Dick Horowitz, who recently completed his final flight as Chief Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) pilot at Wings of Hope. Horowitz, still an avid pilot and mentor to many current and future aviators, is featured in this series and in an upcoming video on The Aero Experience. Here we will explore the adventures and insights of the consummate corporate aircraft captain and world traveler who never lost his perspective as a generous and compassionate human being along the way. 

In Part 1 of this series, we looked back on Dick Horowitz's retirement as Chief Pilot for the Wings of Hope Medical Relief and Air Transport Program (MAT) last November. In Part 2, we shared reflections on his nine-year service at Wings of Hope. Here in Part 3, The Aero Experience presents highlights from an aviation career that took Dick Horowitz around the world and to the Gateway City.

In 2018, Dick Horowitz received the Wright Brothers "Master Pilot Award" from the Federal Aviation Administration in recognition of fifty years of safe flying over a career that has logged about 26,000 flight hours. From his first flight with a college friend to the present day, he humbly sees himself as a life-long student aviator. 

"Even though I have licenses that say other things, I am absolutely, definitely, a student pilot," Horowitz told The Aero Experience. "I have never had a flight...where I haven't learned something."

While serving in the U.S. Navy, Dick Horowitz initially learned to fly with the Purdue University Flying Club, earning his Private, Commercial and Certified Flight Instructor certificates in the same year. He had over 5,000 flight hours logged in his first six years of flying, mostly from flight instructing. He later earned an A&P Technician certificate and used his GI Bill benefits to obtain a type rating in the Learjet from Executive Jet in Cincinnati. Horowitz was hired to maintain a Learjet fleet in St. Louis, and ended up flying over 100 hours per month hauling automobile freight as well as he rose through the ranks to Director of Operations. He flew for Fru-Con Corporation for four years, and in 1982 began thirty-years of flying for the Peabody corporate flight department in St. Louis and Evansville, IN. 

"Then I came to Wings of Hope," Horowitz said after a quick recitation of his career achievements. "The best job that I have ever had, anywhere in my flying career. Without question, the best job, even with zero paycheck. Here I am, and I'm a happy guy!"                

Throughout his flying career, Horowitz had a running joke with his wife that his flying career would be complete when he made takeoffs and landings in all fifty states (not to mention other countries). Idaho was the last state conquered in 2003, so he received this memorial plaque in recognition of his great achievement!

Dick Horowitz was featured on the cover of Professional Pilot magazine thanks to his friend, founder and publisher Murray Smith. The photo was taken of him and his boss on the apron at Washington National Airport pretending to read, How to Fly a Citation Jet. While all-business in the cockpit, he is willing to make the best of the lag time, especially for a cover shot!

Dick Horowitz's aviation career is well documented, thanks in part to the FAA's "Blue Ribbon Packet" of records and a large scrapbook constructed by his daughter as a retirement present. In it are pages containing color illustrations, photos and articles covering everything from his first solo on February 11, 1968 with the Purdue University Flying Club at Aretz Airport in Lafayette, IN to corporate jet flights spanning the globe. Another page shows Lafayette, Indiana's Halsmer Airport, known for the Halsmer Air Car that was successfully flown in the late 1950s. 
He flew with famed meteorologist Theodore Fujita, taking photos of weather phenomena from a Learjet at 45,000 feet. For eight years he flew Learjets for charter operations and the Fru-Con Construction Company. Horowitz learned to "jump from perfectly good airplanes" (skydive) from a friend at the charter company, making his first 55 jumps using a Russian Para-Commander parachute.   

Charter pilots fly a wide variety of people, and the scrapbook revealed a sample of celebrity passengers flown by Dick Horowitz: Neil Diamond, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Buffett, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley just to name a few. Jimmy Buffett opened for The Eagles during an early concert tour, and Horowitz enjoyed visiting with them as they winged their way across the country.

From 1982 to 2012, Dick Horowitz flew for Peabody Energy, based in St. Louis and Evansville, IN (1987-1990), and for 25 of those years served as Director of Maintenance and Chief Pilot. Aircraft flown during these years include the Challenger 300, EC-135 turbine helicopter, Gulfstream 550 (13 hours St. Louis to Beijing, China) and the Hawker series of jets.  

"It's a real privilege to fly long-haul for a corporation because you get to see all sorts of things," Horowitz commented as he showed the travel photos in the scrapbook. Flights to China, Sydney, Australia and other major cities around the world are well represented in the scrapbook. As with the recent retirement flight from Wings of Hope, his final flight with Peabody Energy was marked in the finest tradition of a water cannon salute.

"Aviation has been very, very good to me, and I try to do everything that I can to encourage kids to consider it as a career path," Horowitz said as we toured the Wings of Hope hangar during our interview. He was one of those class act pilots who talked to youngsters before a flight, and even fired up the auxiliary power unit (APU) so that they could see the inside of the jet with the lights on and cockpit displays lit up for the extra "Wow" factor. He also has given free flight training to selected individuals who showed the passion and ability to succeed. So when Wings of Hope started their STEM program for high school students, Dick Horowitz was a natural presenter for the basics of flight seminar.  

"We have here at Wings of Hope what we call the 'Soar Into STEM' program where we involve school-age kids coming out here and not only hearing about airplanes, but actually, physically, getting their hands dirty taking airplanes apart," he recounted. In 2019, the class worked on a Cessna 182 that was later sent for humanitarian service with Wings of Hope in Paraguay. Here Dick Horowitz is shown pointing out the features of that aircraft to the students and also discussing basic flight controls using an RC model of the Fairchild PT-19 representing the actual aircraft he owned early in his aviation career.




"To be able to have done what I've done for as long as I have is really a privilege," Horowitz said as we concluded our visit. "Sooner or later, it's going to come to the end, and I'm going to be absolutely, positively, one hundred percent fine with that. Every day is a blessing until that happens."

The new video below features our interviews with Dick Horowitz during our visits to Wings of Hope:


The Aero Experience thanks Dick Horowitz for dedicating hours of his time over several months contributing to this series. We also thank Carol Enright, Wings of Hope Communications Manager, for coordinating our visits for this and previous stories over the last several years. And special thanks to Wings of Hope for hosting our visits and for all they do to serve others here and throughout the world.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Aviation Community Salutes Career of Pilot Dick Horowitz, Part 2

 

By Carmelo Turdo

The aviation community salutes the career of pilot and humanitarian Dick Horowitz, who recently completed his final flight as Chief Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) pilot at Wings of Hope. Horowitz, still an avid pilot and mentor to many current and future aviators, is featured in this series and in an upcoming video on The Aero Experience. Here we will explore the adventures and insights of the consummate corporate aircraft captain and world traveler who never lost his perspective as a generous and compassionate human being along the way.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked back on Dick Horowitz's retirement as Chief Pilot for the Wings of Hope Medical Relief and Air Transport Program (MAT) last November. Horowitz and other MAT volunteer pilots provide air transportation for patients needing specialized treatment in facilities around the Midwest within 600 miles of St. Louis. The MAT program served 218 patients and flew nearly 117,000 miles in 2019. 


















Soon after Dick Horowitz arrived at Wings of Hope on that November 30 flight, staff and volunteer technicians began the annual inspection and a major upgrade program designed to make the Piper Navajo a more valuable asset to the MAT program. As shown below, the Navajo is receiving a complete instrument panel upgrade that will replace vacuum system instruments with glass panel avionics. Also, the engines have been removed and sent to a specialty overhaul shop. When the process is complete, the aircraft will be able to fly farther and carry more people and supplies than the other aircraft in the fleet.

















Dick Horowitz discussed his last MAT flight in the Navajo with The Aero Experience during our recent visit to Wings of Hope. After nine years as an MAT pilot, he stepped down from that role having reached the retirement age set by the Wings of Hope Board of Directors. The flight involved transporting a patient to a cancer center for a clinical trial that may lead to a new treatment. He considers it a privilege to be able to provide efficient transportation, food and lodging for those suffering from a life-threatening condition.

"It's very inspiring, it's really a privilege to be able to help the people that we help," Horowitz said, reflecting on the years he served in the MAT program. "I've been doing this, training and administratively managing the pilot group for about nine years now, and it's time for me to step down from doing that." He was offered the opportunity to continue on as Chief Pilot without flying actual MAT missions, but Horowitz turned that down because he believes that leading a flight department involves being scheduled along with the other pilots and medical crews. Dick Horowitz will continue to do training flights and check rides for pilots in the MAT program, and he will be a positive force at Wings of Hope for years to come.

The typical MAT flight is scheduled several weeks in advance, and pilots volunteer for the flight. One pilot is in charge of the flight planning process, and an instrument flight plan is filed. Closer to the flight, details such as weather are rechecked and the flight crew arrives at Wings of Hope or the designated airport at least an hour in advance of scheduled takeoff. Safety is the paramount concern, and the final flight go/no go call is made. "We cancel very few trips because of weather," Horowitz said, "because we have really competent pilots and really good airplanes with good equipment." Flights are canceled, though, when icing conditions are present. 

Following a thorough pre-flight inspection of the aircraft, the crew aims to take off at or before the scheduled time. "We go through the checklist, item by item, to make sure everybody is on the same page," Horowitz explained. "With a two-person crew [or three if a flight medical crew member is present], they are an interactive system and everybody has to know everything that is going on in the airplane for it to be an efficient and safe system." Wings of Hope flight operations adhere to conservative crew flight time rules, and typical flights are less than four hours per leg with few flights long enough to require overnight stays. 

The MAT program is essential for patients needing continuing care for a serious health condition at a facility located ten or twelve hours away by car. It is not just the driving time, but the whole logistics trail of food, housing and the return trip over weeks, months or years of treatment. Wings of hope provides the support these families need to care for their loved one, including the flight, food and lodging, while seeking treatment in other cities.

Dick Horowitz sees the practical results of what he and his MAT crews have achieved. "Just being able to subtract out the food and the transportation issue for them is an enormous help to allow them the resources to deal with the main problem, which is the child's medical situation, and keeping their life together and putting food on the table and a roof over their head. The families that we serve really, really need our help and really benefit." 

Dick Horowitz is quick to deflect some of the credit for transporting patients who receive life-changing medical treatments. When asked how he felt about receiving gratitude from passengers who received a flight with the Wings of Hope MAT program, he replied, "I almost feel selfish being a pilot and being able to experience that first-hand on a daily basis because there are so many people who do so much work here to allow that to happen...It's a terrific experience, of course."
The Aero Experience thanks Dick Horowitz for sharing some insights from his service in the Wings of Hope MAT Program. In Part 3 of this series, we will take a look at the aviation career of Dick Horowitz as told by the man himself!


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Aviation Community Salutes Career of Pilot Dick Horowitz, Part 1


By Carmelo Turdo
The aviation community salutes the career of pilot and humanitarian Dick Horowitz, who recently completed his final flight as Chief Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) pilot at Wings of Hope. Horowitz, still an avid pilot and mentor to many current and future aviators, will be featured in a series of stories and an upcoming video on The Aero Experience in the coming weeks. In this series, we will explore the adventures and insights of the consummate corporate aircraft captain and world traveler who never lost his perspective as a generous and compassionate human being along the way.

In Part 1 of this series, we look back on Dick Horowitz's retirement as Chief Pilot for the Wings of Hope Medical Relief and Air Transport Program last November. The traditional water cannon salute was provided by a Monarch Fire Protection District crew as the Piper Navajo taxied to the Wings of Hope hangar. Horowitz and other MAT volunteer pilots provide air transportation for patients needing specialized treatment in facilities around the Midwest within 600 miles of St. Louis. The MAT program served 218 patients and flew nearly 117,000 miles in 2019.

The Aero Experience thanks Dick Horowitz and Wings of Hope for all they do to serve others in need through aviation, and we will feature Dick Horowitz again in an upcoming interview and video presentation.














Thursday, February 4, 2021

Natural Aviators: Bald Eagles Along the Mississippi River

 

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience is eager to again feature natural aviators in our coverage of Midwest Aviation. We set out in January to capture the majestic bald eagle in its natural habitat along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, MO. Included here are visits to Alton, IL and the Missouri towns of Winfield, Clarksville and Louisiana. 

As with all of our Midwest Aviation features, one goal is to inform our audience of the great contributions of the region's aviation industry, heritage and participants (including our natural aviators!). Our other, and more important goal, is to encourage our audience to participate in aviation, and in this case, go out and witness these majestic creatures for yourself and ensure they always have a welcoming Midwest winter home.