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Brad Childs, our Regional Vice President, decided to conquer his fear of flying by taking pilot lessons! We know, crazy right?! But what Brad thought was just a fear-conquering hobby would eventually become a calling to rescue animals in danger: Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team (PAART). We wanted to share Brad’s first rescue mission before PAART was founded and how he felt during the endeavor!

The first rescue mission took place in 2005 at a time when Brad had decided to give up his newly found hobby, flying. But before he did, one of his partners needed help with a mission because he had the flu. His flight instructor, who is now Chief Pilot at PAART, gave the mission details and it included rescuing one dog. Brad was shocked that this was the mission and told his flight instructor “do you think we have a Subaru Outback?” Brad was concerned about having a dog fly on the airplane but decided to rescue this pup!

He learned that Monty, the puppy, was an Albino American Bulldog that was only 9 months and deaf. Once Brad, his partner, and Monty got mid-air, Monty decided to jump into Brad’s lap immediately causing a nosedive. Brad quickly became attached and wanted to keep Monty. But there were already plans in place – this puppy was going to his “furever” home. The flight instructor informed Brad that he could not keep Monty, as the two kids standing below the plane were excited about having this pup as a part of their family. Brad was able to deliver Monty to his new family and remained close by keeping in touch and receiving annual Christmas cards that included Monty!

Thankfully after this mission, Brad changed his mind about giving up flying! He got the idea of turning his hobby into rescuing animals which later founded the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. PAART has now rescued over ten thousand animals across the nation by plane and bus and they continue their amazing efforts now!