First Flight: Veterans Airlift Command
Wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have many challenges ahead, but finding transportation shouldn't be one of them. That's the view of a new nonprofit group, Veterans Airlift Command (VAC), which is recruiting volunteer pilots and aircraft owners to lend air support to recovering soldiers and their families. The group recently flew its first mission, bringing an injured Marine from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., to his home in Florida. Walt Fricke, founder and CEO of VAC, called on father and son Billy and Christopher Ball to pilot the first mission. They flew their Cirrus from Jacksonville, Fla., to pick up Cpl. Christopher Brink. The trip home to Florida, which would have required 13 hours and three layovers on commercial flights, took only three hours in the Cirrus. "This is a great way for us to give back and a really cool experience overall," said Christopher Ball. "You just can't imagine the appreciation of the young men and women we are helping."