Papa Bear’s High Flying Angels
Spring has fully arrived in northern California with the days getting longer and warmer and the skies blue. While enjoying an ideal spring day Sue Clark got a frantic call for assistance in rescuing a sick kitty in Torrance California. Sue Clark is the founder of a not-for-profit animal rescue organization called RV2TheRescue.com. Her response was an automatic “yes, we’re here to help.”
To be successful it would require forming an ad hoc relay team of many individuals using several different modes of transportation. Sue immediately went to work contacting potential team members and putting together an extensive relay plan. It can be difficult to locate an adopting family willing to take ownership of a sick animal but once it’s done the team must work quickly. Pappa Bear, the kitty who was subject of this intense effort, needed to get from Torrance, located near Los Angles, to Walnut Creek in Northern California.
Papa Bear’s foster family took the first leg of the relay. They arranged for a comfy travel crate and drove the fortunate kitten to the Torrance Airport to hook up with the next team members. Pilots Bob and Barbara Allen, who live in Palm Desert flew their airplane to Torrance where they boarded their special passenger, Papa Bear. Flying in the Los Angeles area can be tricky with crowded airspace, weather, and technical issues. After considerable maneuvering the Allen’s managed to break free of the LA log jam and head north.
Constant communication kept all the team members updated on progress. Sue had delegated herself and her trusty Piper Cherokee airplane to handle the next leg, arranging to meet the Allen’s at Harris Ranch Airport, located next to Highway 5 midway between Sacramento and Los Angeles. Sue lives in Rio Vista but keeps her plane based about 45 minutes away in Sacramento where it is used for charter work.
Tiffany, who lives near Placerville which is halfway to Lake Tahoe from Sacramento, and who is a frequent user of Sue’s plane was tasked to take the aircraft from Sacramento to Rio Vista and meet up with Sue. Since there were four seats Tiffany invited her pilot friend, Kalista, to come along to act as co-pilot and flight attendant for Papa Bear. After retrieving Sue the threesome headed south cruising along with the traffic on Highway 5, although not constrained by speed limits as were all the other vehicles 2500 feet below.
Harris Ranch is well known by land-based vehicle drivers and pilots alike as a great place to eat. With the planes arriving within 20 minutes of each other it was an easy decision to take the opportunity to meet and share rescue adventure stories while scarfing up on the fantastic food. The wonderful Harris Ranch staff were more than eager to help out cat-sitting Papa Bear while the relay team recharged. In fact they placed his travel crate under the checkout register so he could be carefully watched. But it’s a good guess that he was probably wishing for a seat at the table given all the fabulous eatery smells.
When it was time for Sue, her flight crew and special passenger to head back north it was noted that a storm system was moving in, including numerous towering thunderhead clouds. Such weather is always treated with respect by pilots knowing that each cloud column marks significant air turbulence. The bases of these clouds were at about 3,000 feet which although safe to fly meant that it would be a rocky ride. For Sue it was “business as usual”. A retired American Eagle Airline’s pilot and certified flight instructor she has acquired over 20,000 hours flying in and out of relatively small airports located in challenging terrain and in inclement weather conditions.
For Tiffani and Kalista it was a different matter, never having experienced such challenging weather. Papa Bear was concerned he might need to use one of his nine lives. However, they couldn’t have been with a more accomplished instructor pilot, and Sue made sure to make this a good learning event for the neophyte pilots while keeping it as smooth as possible for their passenger. After dodging rain squalls and thunderstorms for about an hour they broke free of the weather and made an uneventful landing at Buchannan Field in Concord, about 10 miles north of Walnut Creek.
Papa Bear’s new Mom, Madeleine, was waiting for Sue’s crew and Papa Bear when they arrived. Madeleine has young children who were at a soccer game but who were very excited about adding Papa Bear to their family. For Sue’s crew is was a job well done, and the Cherokee is once again parked and poised ready to leap into action when the next call comes.
A Little More About Sue:
She is a member of the Ninety-Nines Club an international organization of women pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships, and mutual support while honoring our unique history and sharing their passion for flight.
Established in 1929 by 99 women pilots, the members of The Ninety-Nines, Inc., International Organization of Women Pilots, are represented in all areas of aviation today. And, to quote Amelia Earhart, fly “for the fun of it!”
The Ninety-Nines provides scholarships and financial aid to women to help them achieve their flying goals.
To learn more about Sue Clark and her “Rescue Relay Team” visit her website RV2TheRescue.com
Feel free to contact Sue Clark at [email protected]