Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kirtland Air Force Base honors history-making pilot

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The oldest active pilot in the history of the U.S. Air Force is stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base and was honored by his colleagues Friday night. 

Lt. Col. James Routt is credited with training every Air Force pilot currently working special operations and combat search and rescue around the world at some point in their career.

Routt, 64, was also inducted into the British Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators as a "Master Air Pilot." He is only the third U.S. citizen so honored joining astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and Capt. Sully Sullenberger, who landed an ailing passenger jet in the Hudson River.

Routt was honored by the KAFB colleagues for all of his accomplishments as he approaches his retirement in September.

He retired once before in 1996 but volunteered to return to the Air Force after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then he has been with the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland where he is chief pilot of the 550th Special Operations Squadron.

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Boca Raton, Florida - Man takes to the sky to help those in need

Name: Daniel Diamond 

Age: 28

Residence: Boca Raton

Family: Parents, one brother and one sister

Career: Aviation business, flight instructor and aircraft mechanic

Cause: Vital Flight, a South Florida-based nonprofit that coordinates air transportation for individuals with compassionate, humanitarian or medical needs. As part of the Air Care Alliance, pilots arrange to transport qualified patients throughout the United States at no charge. It is generally used when commercial air service is not available, is a health risk or is not affordable.

Q: Why do you volunteer?

A: Vital Flight combines my two favorite activities: flying and volunteering. The man next to me in the photo is a legally blind veteran. We flew him to Palm Beach from St. Petersburg to enter a rehabilitation hospital for the blind and learn how to function with his disability. Then we flew him home. Or it could be a child who is battling cancer who smiles at me, or helping a transplant patient with a lifesaving second chance get where they need to go. The words "Thank you so much, you've helped change my life" are powerful. There is nothing more satisfying.

Q: How did you choose this organization?

A: Two years ago, I heard of a new, local, nonprofit volunteer flight organization. I met with the people and found it to be a perfect fit.

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