Written by Joan Ryan
Bob Barker from the UFO organization—“United Flying
Octogenarians”—and Harold Levy from the PALS organization—Patient Air Lift
Services—came recently to speak to residents at Willow Towers assisted living
residence on Pelham Road in New Rochelle.
Bob Barker shared the fact that the UFO group, which now has a membership of over 1,200 men and women, was founded in 1982 by a group of 31 aviators over the age of 80. When each of their members joined, at the age of 80 or older, he or she was still flying as Pilot-in-Command of their aircraft. Today, many are no longer at the controls of an aircraft, but their love of aviation still binds them together to remember and share their decades of flights.
UFO is an international, nonprofit organization with members in the United States including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Argentina, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.
Harold Levy, who is also a UFO member, spoke to the Willow Towers residents about the PALS organization, Patient Air Lift Services. PALS, also a nonprofit organization, which provides free flights to individuals, pick-up and delivery of organs for transplants and other humanitarian medical cases throughout the northeast. Their flight area expands as far south as Virginia and as far west as Ohio. The organization has only one office, based in New York.
PALS Pilots personally donate their time, their planes and the fuel for all the flights. This allows all of the funds raised at PALS fund raising events and from donations to be applied to operating the scheduling and coordination office. This results in contributions providing three times the amount of services that would be otherwise possible.
Bob and Harold told many stories of particular flights that were critically important in treatments to save lives and speed recuperations
In closing, Bob and Harold added that the feeling the pilots receive from being able to make such a difference in someone’s life is indescribable.
Harold Levy flew his own plane from his home in East Hampton to the Westchester Airport, where Bob Barker picked him up, just so they could come to speak to the appreciative residents at Willow Towers, a wonderful donation of their own time to spread the word about PALS. The Willow Towers Residents thanked Harold and Bob profusely and all said that they were truly moved to hear their heartwarming patient airlift stories.