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basic travel is difficult for a guy with multiple prosthetics, Fricke said. have to remove them to go through security screenings so they can check them. When you go on a private airplane, you drive right up, put on your bags and go. Smith said he has since flown commercial a few times since being injured, but agrees that it time consuming. don have to take off my prosthetics, but I do get extra screening. he said.
A former firefighter, Grossmann fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a pilot at 26. He became a professional pilot in 1980, then started Castle Aviation 30 years ago, in 1984. Since 1999, the company moved to its current site at 5430 Lauby Road NW.
also visit military hospitals, he said. we started flying guys, they tell their friends. The physical therapists and prosthetists also would tell people who would use us, and they tell their friends. Veterans Airlift Command volunteer pilots cover the cost of the flights. Several corporations participate in the program. Companies including Window World, Carrington Capital Management, the Bill Edwards Group, and Fyda Freightliner in Columbus.
Page 3 of 3 VALUABLE TOOL
was so moved, I signed up the next day with them, he said with a grin. Fricke (founder) told me, will change your life. The Veterans Airlift Command is a nonprofit nationwide network of pilots who transport wounded veterans and their families to various destinations, free of charge.
was problematic, he recalled.
He was hospitalized for six months.
Following his retirement from business, Fricke said, he developed the idea of transporting wounded warriors.
The majority of the program flights are point to point. Grossmann said no special accommodations are required to fly the soldiers. Using a Piper Aerostar for most trips, Grossmann has Omega Seamaster 300m Vs Tudor Black Bay
To compound the issue, Smith also has a service dog, a 80 pound yellow Labrador retriever named Champ.
He had no idea how it would change his life. While at the convention, Grossmann president and director of operations of the private air transport company Castle Aviation discovered the Veterans Airlift Command.
started poking around and saw a need, he said. turned into quite a bit more than that. It kind Omega Speedmaster Professional On Wrist
flown 13 missions.
In June 2012, Michael H.
a great dog, but flying commercial with a dog that size is impossible, he said. and I are incredibly thankful to the pilots for their time and aircraft. It a valuable asset and unique asset. Fricke said that like Smith, most wounded veterans and soldiers learn about Veterans Airlift Command by word of mouth.
doing what little I can do with what I have, but a lot of corporations and pilots are doing a lot to help, Grossmann said.
thankful that business is going well enough that I able to this, Grossmann said of his volunteer work with VAC. my way Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 2900.50.91 of giving back. I have the utmost respect for them. Kids with no arms and no legs are as motivated as they went into the service. Fricke said the primary focus of transporting post Sept. 11 combat wounded personnel is make sure they served. There also is no limit to the number of flights that can be taken, but availability is limited to available pilots.
started this off with my own airplane, Fricke said, had the wind our in sails with good American patriots willing to help, so it just the right idea for its time, I guess. TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES
Grossmann has flown the Smiths on three trips.
Grossmann first passenger was Army Spec. Andrew Smith, 22, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. Smith lost both lower legs to an explosive device in Afghanistan on March 12, 2012, less than three weeks after his deployment.
Company owner helps transport wounded warriors in plane
of took on a life of its own, larger than me. Since 2006, more than 2,300 aircraft owners and pilots have signed on to help.
were getting pretty disappointed. We hadn been home yet and we were ready to see home. Someone in another room told us about (VAC). My wife, Tori, looked it up online, and filled out a request form. Before the day was done, we had a pilot. HE SAW A NEED
Page 2 of 3 The Veterans Airlift Command was founded in 2006 by Walt Fricke, a retired Minnesota businessman who was severely wounded while serving in Vietnam with the 68th Assault Helicopter Co. Fricke received the a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a silver star, and 21 air medals.
can imagine my apprehension on that first flight, Grossmann recalled. was expecting an angry kid, someone who be bitter at the government. I found the opposite in him. They were completely thankful. was very sick at the time, he said. couldn eat; I was being fed through a (catheter) in my arm. I got well enough to leave the hospital, but I still was being fed Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Watch
intravenously from bags containing 1 1/2 gallons of liquid. We wanted to go home, but trying to get through the airlines and the TSA with those bags and being in a wheelchair would have just been a nightmare.
It was a natural fit for Grossmann and Castle Aviation, which is based out of the Akron Canton Airport.
they don ask, Fricke said of the soldiers. challenge is to get them to ask; they don want to ask. They see it as some kind of handout. We don look at it like that. It a you for their service, they ought to be treated like that. It a you, not a payback. Reach Charita at 330 580 8313.
Castle Aviation fleet contains four passenger planes and six transport planes.
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