This month’s pilot spotlight features, John Greco, AFE’s 2018 Pilot of the Year!
It was a cold day in late November of 1989. I made the decision to tag along with a friend of mine for an airplane ride in his Beech Musketeer. After being in the air for only fifteen, short minutes, my friend handed over the controls to me and in a matter of seconds I was hooked. The next day, without hesitation, I immediately signed up for lessons. Now almost thirty years later I’ve accumulated over 3000 hours of flying and have flown all over the United States. Over the 3000 hours of flying, nothing has been more rewarding than flying for Angel Flight East and rescuing dogs for Pilots and Paws
In the beginning of my journey in aviation, I realized there was a lot to learn but flying was so rewarding. I passed all the tests for my Private Pilot and Instrument Ratings and I began to build hours as quickly as I could. One day I saw an ad for a local organization looking for Volunteer Pilots to fly patients into UPMC and other great medical centers across the country. This was the moment when aviation became much more important to me and took on a much greater meaning.
My first Volunteer Pilot flight was from Latrobe, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia International Airport. The gentleman’s name was Rocky. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and was to begin a regular treatment utilizing stem cells. He was a respected and popular teacher and was in his fifties. Rocky and I became great friends and I flew him for many months. Suddenly, I did not hear any word about him from my mission coordinator and I became very worried. It turned that Rocky had passed away. I had lost a dear friend and I’ll never forget him.
The point of this story and the lesson that I learned is how this experience put things into perspective for me. It emphasizes how precious life is and we need to enjoy every moment. The other thing it taught me was the importance of using my airplane and piloting skills for helping people. I began flying volunteer flights back in 1998 with a local Pittsburgh Service and today I am proud to be flying for Angel Flight East. It truly makes me feel fulfilled and I want to thank all the volunteers and great people around this country that give their hearts and their time. May God Bless you.