Greg has been a volunteer pilot with LightHawk in the Pacific region since 2002 and a staff member since 2010. He is an ATP-rated pilot and has flown floatplanes commercially for much of his 35-year aviation career in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Much of that time was spent in his favorite plane, the De Havilland Beaver. He is an active flight instructor and has shared his passion for aviation through mentoring programs directed at both youth and adults. He is a skilled furniture builder and woodworker, a passion he has pursued alongside his aviation endeavors, continuing a long family history in both aviation and artistic arenas. A graduate of the University of Washington, he has served in many capacities with volunteer based organizations. Greg is also a cofounder of a nonprofit environmental film production company.
Chief Program Officer, Acting Rockies Program Manager
Fort Collins, Colorado
Ryan brings a wealth of land conservation experience to LightHawk. He served as Executive Director of Legacy Land Trust from 2009 to 2013 helping preserve farm, ranch and natural lands in northern Colorado. His conservation work also includes nine years with The Nature Conservancy starting at Phantom Canyon Preserve in the Laramie Foothills area and later serving as a project director for the Aiken Canyonlands, Chico Basin, and Upper Purgatoire areas. As an experienced wildland firefighter, he has worked on forest and fire restoration as well as land protection issues. Ryan received his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and is a native of Fort Collins where he enjoys woodworking, climbing and running.
Patti joined LightHawk in August 2013. Her diverse background includes five years in the non-profit sector at the American Academy of Periodontology in Chicago where she was the Senior Marketing and Advertising Manager specializing in marketing campaigns, logistics, and advertising sales. Patti holds a masters degree in interior design. She has practiced interior design with several architectural firms and taught design at Colorado State University. Patti puts her organizational, marketing and design skills to work as part of LightHawk's development and communications team and leads the planning for LightHawk's Annual Fly-in. Patti is an avid cyclist, logging hundreds of miles per year in the foothills of Colorado.
Just before joining LightHawk in January 2008, Bev was part of the development team at the University of New England managing a fund-raising campaign, grant writing and planning events. She also spent a year and four days in Antarctica driving heavy machinery and organizing materials shipments to the earth's highest, driest and coldest continent. In Seattle, Washington, she worked as a copywriter coming up with new and engaging ways to market elevator music. Bev has a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Maine. She enjoys hiking, gardening, reading, cooking and collecting vinyl records.
Jonathan has been surrounded by pilots his entire life. His father flew the PBY Catalina and Martin PBM Mariner and his younger brother flew for the USMC for 20+ years as an AH-1 Super Cobra helicopter pilot. Jonathan brings a diverse conservation background to LightHawk: he was a park ranger in Oregon for the BLM and in Maine for almost ten years at Baxter State Park. He has worked on a variety of conservation projects including ecological assessments for superfund sites, baseline ecological surveys for conservation easements, forestry management surveys, vernal pool surveys and wetland analysis for many clients throughout New England. Jonathan has a B.S. in Recreation and Park Management from the University of Maine and a M.S.c. in Environmental Science/Conservation Biology from Green Mountain College in Vermont.
With more than 25 years’ experience in nonprofit management and for-profit ventures, Dan provides leadership for LightHawk’s development and communications efforts. After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, he was provided invaluable guidance and experience by volunteering in the Western Regional Office of The Nature Conservancy. He brought this experience to the Denver Zoological Foundation where he was part of a development team that raised millions of dollars to support conservation and education programs that helped foster the preservation of endangered species, and reached more than 1.5 million people each year. At the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Dan worked with hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout Colorado, and helped guide a $3.5 million annual grant-making program as he earned his MBA from the University of Colorado. As the Vice President of Advancement at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado he helped lead the fund-raising and marketing efforts of this internationally recognized research and education center. Dan lives in Denver with his wife Sarah, son Christopher, and daughter Lauren, and is an avid whitewater kayaker, skier, and mountain biker.
Lee started working with LightHawk as a partner, organizing over-flights for community leaders in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve of Central Mexico. Currently Lee works assisting with programs in Mesoamerica and the Pacific regions. In addition to his work with LightHawk, Lee works with other non-profit organizations to advance conservation via outreach and education. His work focuses on projects in the Caribbean and Latin America. One of his main projects is working with communities in the Caribbean to improve rock iguana conservation. He has an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Arizona, Tucson and a B.S. in Ecology from the University of California, San Diego. When he isn’t working, Lee enjoys being in the Sierra Nevada backcountry, something he has done since he was 3 months old.
John brings his experience with nonprofits, entrepreneurship, business management, venture capital investment, and politics to LightHawk where he began as executive director in April 2014. He spent 15 years working with Telluride Venture Partners, an early stage investment group and also worked for Anixter, a large international telecommunications equipment supply company. John holds a degree in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado and has been an active land conservationist as a board member of Colorado’s Nature Conservancy. A highlight of his TNC experience included living in Argentina for a year where he worked to help establish their new office. John is also a councilor at Manomet Center for Conservation Science near Plymouth, MA. He learned to fly in Telluride, CO, earned an instrument rating, and now flies a Cirrus SR22T. As mayor of Telluride for four years, he had great success in saving Telluride’s Valley Floor by raising a significant amount of public and private funds. John is a cyclist, skier, sailor and also enjoys bee keeping.
Tara Rowe joined LightHawk as the first Flight Coordinator in September 2014. She most recently graduated with her MBA and has a strong background in logistics, technology, and program coordination. She has a passion for volunteering and and spent two years working on reforestation project as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa. In her spare time, she loves to trail run and cook. Her and her husband enjoy skiing, and looking for new adventures.
Emilie has spent most of her 27+ year career in non-profit financial management. Her background includes 17 years at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), an international outdoor educational nonprofit organization based in Lander, WY. Ryan began her association with LightHawk part-time in 2001, and joined May of 2005 as CFO, overseeing the organization’s finances, budgeting, and human resources. Emilie spends the majority of her free time recreating in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado and loves being able to use her financial experience to contribute to their protection through LightHawk.
Kristin Sherwoodis a conservation and philanthropy professional with more than 15 years experience in the U.S. and abroad in strategic planning, capacity building, partnership development and grant-making, with a particular focus on marine and coastal environments. Most recently, she ran the Conservation Partnership Initiative for The Nature Conservancy, which worked to launch, expand, and strengthen high leverage, high impact partnerships. Before joining the Conservancy, Kristin was a program officer with the Conservation and Science Program of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Earlier in her career, she worked in the Asia-Pacific region (Philippines, Palau, and Australia) and the Caribbean (Belize), and was involved with projects focused on biophysical, socio-economic, and livelihoods aspects of coastal communities, MPAs, and coastal area management. Ms. Sherwood holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Resource Management from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.
Before joining LightHawk, Christine worked for the Johnson Creek Watershed Council in Portland, Oregon, coordinating their outreach and advocacy efforts. Trained as a wildlife biologist, Christine has studied birds in habitats as diverse as arctic tundra, Costa Rican swamp-forest, and the forests of the Pacific Northwest. She spent time rehabilitating seabirds and raptors in California, and worked with non-releasable raptors as education birds. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Aquatic Biology from UC Santa Barbara, and a Masters in Natural Resources, Wildlife from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, where her thesis focused on avian disease ecology. Christine also volunteers locally, conducting bird and amphibian surveys as part of a monitoring project through Metro, Portland’s regional government.
Yendra comes to LightHawk with a background in accounting, biology and statistics. She is a native Costa Rican from the Alajuela province with a deep understanding of Central American lifestyle and government which she leverages as the Mesoamerica Flight Coordinator. She has experience in data analysis, accounting, working as a naturalist, business operations and project management. She loves working on her urban farm, practicing yoga, exploring in the mountains,snowboarding, beekeeping, writing and hunting.
Prior to joining LightHawk in the summer of 2008, Armando worked for the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida conducting research on movement of sharks, tag-and-recapture studies, and promoting conservation of elasmobranchs. Before that, he worked for The Nature Conservancy in Nicaragua for the Parks in Peril Project in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve supervising and planning conservation activities and working closely with indigenous communities. He also had conducted research on sea urchins, coral reef communities and manatees, and volunteered to a diverse group of projects working with endangered species from birds to marine reptiles. In 2000, Armando was granted with a Fulbright scholarship which allowed him to get his M.S. in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University. He also has a B.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of Mobile (Latin American campus), Nicaragua.
Fort Collins, Colorado and Canyonlands Research Center, Utah
Barry is director of The Nature Conservancy's Canyonlands Research Center in Moab, Utah. He also serves as adjunct assistant professor, Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University. His research interests include bioclimatology, response of terrestrial ecosystems (grassland and alpine) to climate change, and ecosystem modeling of grassland ecosystems. Barry has previously collaborated with LightHawk as a conservation partner.
Secretary, Board of Directors
Tuck is a trustee of private charitable foundations following his retirement from a banking career in Africa, Scandinavia, New York, and Paris. He has been an active volunteer pilot in the northeastern United States for ten years, served on the board of Northern Wings, and currently works on environmental issues in his home state of Florida.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Charleston, South Carolina
Jon Engle is a lifelong professional aviator with a diverse background of over 33 years of civilian and military flying. Jon first soloed in gliders when he was 14, then in powered aircraft when he was 16. He holds a degree in Atmospheric Science and Meteorology and worked as a forecaster for the National Weather Service before continuing his flying career as a military pilot. Prior to retiring from the U.S. Air Force, he was the Director of Air Operations in Europe for 3rd Air Force. With over 4100 hours flying time in more than 35 different aircraft types, Jon has flown from over 27 different countries in either civil or military aircraft. He owns a 1942 Piper Cub and his flying experience includes over 162 hours of combat flying and 38 aircraft carrier landings. He has flown from the edge of sand dunes in hang gliders, to the edge of space in the U-2. Jon holds Commercial, Single and Multi Engine Land rating as well as Single Engine Seaplane and Instrument rating. He is a CFII and holds a Basic Hang Glider license.
Member, Board of Directors
Norissa Giangola is the president of Coqui Marketing - a full service strategy, marketing, and communications firm based in Washington, DC. Coqui helps some of the world's most successful consumer brands and nonprofits to capitalize on new opportunities in healthcare, FDA-regulated industries, and sustainability markets - with a focus on making the world a better place to live and work. Norissa has over 18 years of corporate strategy, marketing, and public affairs expertise. Norissa began her career counting rats on a tropical island in Mexico, and then became an entrepreneur in organic agriculture in Ecuador, growing one of the largest organic consumer foods companies in the Andean region. After selling her company and returning to the U.S., she went on to lead New Ventures, at the World Resources Institute, where her work focused on supporting innovation, investment, and growth at the nexus of environment and business in global markets. She founded Coqui in 2005. Norissa is fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of Portuguese and Italian. Norissa received a BA from Duke University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and has additional advanced studies in Microbiology and Anatomy from Johns Hopkins University. In addition to working with LightHawk, she serves on the Board of The Green Cell, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing smart therapeutic approaches for the developing world in the area of plant manufactured pharmaceuticals.
María José González
Member, Board of Directors
María is executive director of the Mesoamerican Reef Fund, a regional environmental fund established to support the conservation and sustainable use of the Reef shared by Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. She was an advisor to the newly established National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP). There, she worked on several wildlife regulation processes, such as the design of the hunting law, system and calendar and the first Red Lists for vertebrates in Guatemala. She served as executive director of the Fundación Interamericana de Investigación Tropical (FIIT) and as a research fellow for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and coordinator of the Vertebrate Ecology Project in Tikal National Park. María has enhanced and expanded conservation funding in Central America with several organizations working to support environmental protection and sustainable interaction with nature.
Member, Board of Directors
Durham, New Hampshire
Tom Haas is a pilot, flight instructor and owner of Great Bay Aviation, LLC in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He has been flying in the Northeast for over 34 years. He spent three years restoring a 1947 Piper Cub, and also owns a 172 Skyhawk and a 182 Skylane, as well as a Pilatus PC-12. Tom currently serves as National Chairman of the AOPA Foundation's campaign committee, and is a member of the AOPA’s “Hat In The Ring Society.” Tom is also the Vice President of The New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society. Tom graduated from Nathaniel Hawthorne College with a BBA and Associates in Professional Pilot. He then continued to earn his CFII and A&P license. Tom resides in Durham, NH.
Member, Board of Directors
Mexico City, Mexico
Steve retired in 2005 from Cummins, Inc. as Vice President – Mexico Operations and Distribution Latin America and as President of Cummins’ Mexican subsidiary. Previously he was USAID mission director in Costa Rica. He received his MBA from Stanford in 1969, and later managed a 3,200-unit housing project in Brazil. Steve founded Special Olympics-Mexico and was national chairman for 13 years; he also established and presided over the Cummins Philanthropic Association. He has served on the boards of Accion International, Special Olympics International, and EARTH University in Costa Rica. Knaebel was on LightHawk’s board from 1995-1998, and serves on the boards of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature and The Center for Sustainable Transport. He holds a commercial pilot’s license with instrument and multiengine ratings.
Member, Board of Directors
David has an extensive and successful background as an entrepreneur. He has lived in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California, co-founding what is now Johnson, Kunkel and Associates, a civil engineering firm in Eagle, Colorado. He later founded a software and services company which catered to the needs of local governments. After selling the company to Tyler Technologies, he continued to work for Tyler as a division head until 2004. During this time he sat on Tyler's Executive Committee and the Technology Committee. During the early 1980s he served on the Eagle County Airport (now called the Vail Eagle airport) Commission. David also has served on architectural control committees and a cooperative irrigation company board, and was named to the board of Metcalf Archaeology. He has been a LightHawk Volunteer Pilot since 2002 and flies a number of different aircraft.
Chairman, Board of Directors
Josh worked in the environmental consulting industry in a variety of executive and management positions for national and international companies and has experience in the development of financial and non-financial management systems, mergers and acquisitions, risk management, and insurance products. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees at the Chewonki Foundation, a non-profit environmental education institution and a center for leading-edge conservation and sustainable energy curriculum. He holds single-engine and instrument ratings.
Member, Board of Directors
Jane became a LightHawk volunteer pilot in 1994 and has been actively donating flights in the Pacific Northwest ever since. Jane has served in both board and staff positions since 2007. Her professional background includes graphic design and the ski/tourism industry. She served three years on the National Ski Patrol, has taken Master Gardener training, and served four years on the Common Link advisory at Oregon Episcopal School. An accomplished aviatrix, Jane’s flying ratings include single engine land, single engine sea, instrument and helicopter. She is an adventurer, gardener, athlete, pianist, certified yoga instructor, author, wife and mother.
Lawrence A. "Bud" Sittig
Member, Board of Directors
Bud brings a long history in the airline industry to LightHawk. He is currently founding partner at Flight Guidance, LLC advancing wireless/paperless airline cockpit environments. Bud previously served as president and COO of California Pacific Airways, was also VP of Operations at Skybus Airlines and director of Flight Safety at Delta Airlines. He has served in the United States Air Force and Colorado Air National Guard. He is an active member of the Board for the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, OH. Bud is a LightHawk volunteer pilot and flies a Beech 35 Bonanza based at Front Range Colorado KFTG.
Treasurer, Board of Directors
Will is the founder and president of Pipetech International, an engineering firm that specializes in testing and failure analysis of water and petroleum pipelines worldwide. He graduated from West Point and was a commissioned officer in the regular Army and Arizona Army National Guard for 30 years. He was an officer with the Army Corps of Engineers with many challenging assignments all over the world, including two years in Vietnam. He supervised the design of a $4.5 billion water project for the Bureau of Reclamation and holds three U.S. patents for pipeline diagnostic test inventions. He has over 4,800 hours as pilot in command and holds commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates. Will is a registered professional engineer in Arizona and California. He is a LightHawk volunteer pilot and received the Spirit of LightHawk award in 2012.
Member, Advisory Group
Brent attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He received his post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Blue practices medicine in Jackson Hole and is a recognized expert in aviation medicine. He also has been on several nonprofit boards, including the Teton Science School, Dancer’s Workshop of Jackson, and the Board of Health of Teton County. Dr. Blue made multiple environmental flight missions for the Vanderbilt Student Health Coalition/Save Our Cumberland Mountains in the early 1970s to document the environmental destruction, cultural devastation, and health impacts caused by open pit strip mining in Appalachia. Those flights made lasting impressions and fostered his commitment to environmental protection.
Member, Advisory Group
Tom is currently the Chairman and President of Marine Ventures Foundation which he created a decade ago with the mission to improve and protect critical marine, coastal and river habitats in North America, South America and the Caribbean. He first flew a Lighthawk mission in 2009 to photo baseline the Henrys Fork of the Snake River and has since flown several other Lighthawk missions. In addition, Tom is the Chairman of the Ocean Foundation, a global community foundation for ocean preservation, board member of the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, Tag a Giant Fund and Lateral Line Fund and also an active investor on conservation causes. Previously Tom was a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture capital company that invested in Apple, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Yahoo and Google. Tom holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke in 1980.
Member, Advisory Group
Colorado and Patagonia
Sally has a thirty-year career in the public and private sectors dedicated to environmental, public land and water policy. She is an internationally recognized wildland conservation specialist and activist. Ms. Ranney was a founding LightHawk Board member and has been a long-time advocate of LightHawk. Ms. Ranney is CEO of Stillwater Preservation, LLC, a wetlands mitigation banking company and President of Rising Wolf International, Inc., a natural resource consulting group. She founded and served as President of American Wildlands, an NGO dedicated to protecting wildlands and wildlife through legislative and legal strategies and
Member, Advisory Group
Carmel Valley, California
Mike currently serves as Executive Director of Audubon California and Vice President of the Pacific Flyway for the National Audubon Society. He served as Vice President and Director of the Center for the Future of the Oceans for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for eight years, and prior to that he headed the Ocean Conservation Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in northern California. Mike founded and directed World Wildlife Fund's Endangered Seas Campaign and before joining the WWF staff, he served as a park ranger with the National Park Service and as a special agent with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Mike has served as a senior advisor on ocean issues to the Departments of Commerce and State and has lectured at graduate seminars nationally. He pursued graduate studies in marine biology at the University of Sydney, Australia, and received a natural resources law degree from George Washington University. Mike is an instrument-rated private pilot and Cessna T210 owner, and enjoys scuba diving, wildlife and underwater photography, and skiing.
Member, Advisory Group
Terri is currently the executive director of the Pearl Harbor Institute of Pacific Historic Parks in Honolulu, HI and was formerly the executive director of Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. She was also an EMS and State Department support pilot and served as LightHawk's executive director (2001-2003) and flight services director (2000-2001), after joining LightHawk’s volunteer pilot corps in 1997. Terri is a former U.S. Army aviator in fixed and rotary wing service, a former branch director and senior field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School, and currently owns Winds Aloft Aviation, Inc., an aviation consulting and contracting company. Terri is a 10,000+ hour Airline Transport Pilot with airplane single / multi-engine land and sea, helicopter, instrument-airplane and helicopter ratings, and flight instructor ratings for each of these. She has flown throughout the world in military and civilian applications, many of them remote area operations.
Member, Advisory Group
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Brian is a director at a global consulting firm specializing in the application of information technology. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Northwest University in South Africa and an MBA from Pace University in New York. Brian earned his pilot's license in South Africa in 1989 and has flown throughout the region for recreation and business. Early in his flying career, Brian flew to locate a fugitive and endangered black rhinoceros before it crossed the border from South Africa into neighboring Botswana where it was in danger from poachers. The rhino was captured and returned, saving its life. Ever since that experience, Brian has had a keen interest in habitat conservation and environmental policy. In 1998, he emigrated to the USA and in 2007 started volunteering for LightHawk's Mesoamerica and Eastern region programs. He was Lighthawk's 2007 "Rookie of the Year" and in 2008 was the "Rockwell Award" recipient. He also volunteers for Southwings concentrating on Appalachian mountain top removal mining. Brian owns a Cessna Cardinal Turbo RG and is a 2800hr commercial pilot with instrument- and multi-engine ratings.
After Peter and Jane Carpenter donated their airplane to LightHawk in 2007, we established this award for the pilot who donates the most flights in their own aircraft. Chris epitomizes the generosity of the Carpenters and was recognized with this award two years running, in 2008 and 2009.
Chris is a professional aerial photographer who signed up as a Volunteer Pilot about 15 minutes after he passed 1000 hours. He talks about that experience in this short video. (link to 1000.2 hours video) He flies for partners across Montana and Wyoming, and often flies solo missions to take photographs for our partners’ campaigns. In 2012, Chris accompanied two other pilots in ferrying a LightHawk aircraft to Mexico, you can read about their adventure in the AOPA Pilot article here and see a gallery of the gorgeous aerial and on-the-round images Chris created as well. Chris has been volunteering with LightHawk since 2006 and he flies Red Plane, a Cessna 172TD.
From riding in a small plane with his teddy bear at five, to flying professionally, David Cole has a long history with aviation. Cole flew passengers for Frontier, People Express and Continental before becoming an FAA safety inspector and United Airlines pilot instructor. He currently serves as director of operations for SurfAir.com.
Of flying with LightHawk he says, “...the greatest joy for me is our partners sharing their stories and watching their enthusiasm for the flights. You don’t get this kind of feedback or interaction during a 747 flight with 450 passengers.” He has been a volunteer pilot with LightHawk since 2010, in 2011 he won the Spirit of LightHawk Award. David is currently a freelance contract jet pilot.
Dover, New Hampshire
Denise has been volunteering with LightHawk since 2010 and was recognized in 2011 as the Rookie of the Year for her flights in Central America. Her dream was to be a working pilot in Alaska. She has spent five summers there, working for air taxis based out of Wrangell-St. Elias and Denali National Parks. Her new aspiration is to fly exclusively for non-profit causes, including environmental conservation and humanitarianism. She flies a Maule M6.
Santa Barbara, California
Although she was the winner of the LightHawk Rookie of the Year Volunteer Pilot award for 2009, at one time Jo Duffy was an unlikely candidate to become a pilot. In the mid-nineties, a friend asked Jo to join a trip to Mexico to assist in a medical clinic for the indigenous Yaqui Indians. “It meant getting into a small airplane which was terrifying to me,” she remembers. Following a rough flight down, she started relaxing on the way back and began taking a technical interest in flying. “I wanted to know what the dials were for and what the radio contact meant.” She began flying lessons in ’98.
After a career as a clinical laboratory scientist specializing in blood work, Jo is partially retired, “I work part-time to pay for gas,” she says. Flying for LightHawk allows her to be back in the conservation world and “it’s a different kind of flying than just going someplace. It’s more demanding and more satisfying because you have to use the skills you’ve learned,” she explains. “I am passionate about aviation and will use any excuse to go flying. And I feel strongly about environmental issues, so when I heard about LightHawk, there was no question about my wanting to be a part of it.” Jo flies a Cessna 172.
North Granby, Connecticut
Jamie donates missions in the Northeast and as of 2013, has twice flown to Wisconsin to support a fledgling flock of migratory whooping cranes. Read the full story. Jamie has volunteered with LightHawk since 2010 and in 2012 won the Carpenter Award. He flies a Cessna 182Q and an Expedition E350.
Chuck discovered LightHawk in 1991 while vacationing in Costa Rica with his wife and infant son. Employed by the U.S. Geological Survey as a geophysicist and hydrologist, Chuck’s work involves simulating groundwater systems to better understand water supplies and the transport of natural and man-made contaminants in groundwater. Chuck says “flying LightHawk missions provides me a way to assist conservation causes that I care about.”
One flight in Honduras allowed biologists to assess the health of habitat for a pair of nesting harpy eagles, one of only two breeding pairs documented in Mesoamerica, and greatly improve their chances to raise a new generation of the large eagles. Chuck has assisted LightHawk conservation partners for 15 years while flying in New Mexico, Colorado, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Corrales, New Mexico
A LightHawk volunteer pilot since 2001, Richard was recognized with LightHawk’s Rockwell Award in 2013. His numerous flights in New Mexico over many years enabling policy-makers at local, state and national levels to see the area that is now Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument played an important role in bringing about that designation. Richard and his wife Sandi also donated 12+ hours of flight to transfer 14 Aplomado falcon chicks from Boise to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Tenants Harbor, Maine
A volunteer pilot since 2010, Jim was recognized with the Carpenter Award in 2013 for the pilot who donates the most flights in their own aircraft in a particular year. He has done a variety of flights focusing on easement monitoring, as well as wildlife surveys for black bears and whooping cranes. Jim is building experience in the Cessna 206 so that he may fly for LightHawk in Mesoamerica. Jim is currently restoring a PBY Catalina, a seaplane used for surveillance and submarine hunting during WWII. He flies a Piper Super Cub and a Maule MT7 235.
Van Nuys, California
Volunteering with LightHawk since 2002, in 2013 John-Michael won the President's Award. He often combines two of his passions through flying donated missions along the coast of California. Through his donated flights to support California’s Marine Protected Areas, John-Michael uses his airplane and skills to help restore the underwater world he also enjoys as a diver. And sometimes on a flight, he gets to see something truly spectacular as detailed in this story.
Jack began donating flights through LightHawk in 2011 when he responded to an urgent request for a pilot to fly rare orange-breasted falcon chicks to Belize. Utilizing his fast Pilatus PC-12 turbo-prop, Jack was an important part of efforts to bring back a species in real danger of extinction. Since then, he has donated many flights transporting endangered Mexican gray wolves within their species survival program. 2012, Jack was recognized as LightHawk’s Rookie of the Year.
Cessna Centurion, Cessna 172
Carl started flying volunteer missions for LightHawk in 2012 and in 2013 he was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award. In his first year, Carl flew 23 different LightHawk missions including to inform the public about oil and gas wells being sited amidst homes and schools in Colorado’s Weld County; and he ferried hundreds of miles to make a Keystone Pipeline photography flight in central Texas possible. He also transported rare Aplomado falcon chicks from Boise, where they had been bred in captivity by biologists at the Peregrine Fund, to coastal Texas where they were released into the wild. In addition to all of that, Carl and his wife Julie traveled to Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize to fly for a wide variety of partners and issues. Carl flies a Cessna Centurion and a Cessna 172.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
In December 2009, Janice learned of LightHawk from her friend, and LightHawk board member, Tom Haas. Then they loaded three rare Mexican wolves into a brand new Pilatus PC-12 turbo-prop and flew their first LightHawk flight together.
“I can’t remember when I didn’t have the flying bug,” explains Newman, “On a flight to Florida when I was 12, I got to sit in the cockpit with the captain, I thought that was so much better than the week at Disney World!”
Newman has been flying for more than 33 years, and professionally for over 27. She’s been a flight instructor, a captain in a Cessna Caravan for an overnight freight company, flew as captain in a PC-12 for a fractional share company, a scheduled airline, and over in Europe. She has spent time as a PC12NG mentor pilot, and has her own flight school specializing in glass cockpit aircraft. Newman was recognized for her teaching as the Eastern Region Certified Flight Instructor of the Year for 2010. She began flying with LightHawk in 2009 and was recognized with the Carpenters’ Award in 2011.
Jane became a LightHawk volunteer pilot in 1994 and has been actively donating flights in the Pacific Northwest ever since. She has donated flights to inform just about every issue in her backyard, from old growth forest protection to dam removal, water quality, and fish habitat preservation in the region’s rivers. Jane has also flown to give Tribal members a new perspective on evaluating and planning land use, as well as enabling scientists to observe the effects of wild land fires. She has served as a board member and helped with numerous special projects over the years. She flies a Cessna Cardinal and a Piper PA-12.
As a young boy in Coffeyville, Kansas, Bob Peterson was captivated by aviation. Vultee BT-13s roared overhead from an Army Air Corps WWII training base and the Funk Aircraft Company was based in town. It was practically unavoidable he’d become addicted to aviation.
Bob Peterson first volunteered for LightHawk in 1994 after retiring from the Department of Interior as director, Office of Aircraft Services where he oversaw aircraft and pilots flying for National Parks Service (NPS), BLM, and other Interior branches who utilized biologists, rangers and pilots in their work. Bob also served on LightHawk’s Board of Directors. He has flown missions in Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and Veracruz region. Bob continues to fly for LightHawk in his Cessna 182 out of KEUL, Caldwell Industrial near Boise, where he lives with his wife of 56 years, Anita.
Bob earned his BS in Forestry from Colorado State University and worked for the National Park Service for 35 years in Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, Katmai, Grand Canyon, Zion and Everglades National Park, and the National Park Service Alaska Region. Read more of Bob's story here.
Boulder Creek, California
He became a LightHawk volunteer pilot shortly after retirement in 2009, Bill was featured in this video about LightHawk’s work helping to restore the Colorado River Delta estuary. He also flies in Mexico for the Flying Doctors and Comunidad para Baja California, a group helping to improve the lives of indigenous people of northern Mexico. Bill was recognized with the Spirit of LightHawk Award in 2013 and the President’s Award in 2011. He flies a Cessna 182.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Merry began flying in 1975 at Palwaukee Airport, seven miles south of Chicago’s O'Hare and went on to earn a private and commercial license before becoming a flight instructor. Since childhood she has hiked, camped, and fished in the South San Juans of Colorado. After becoming a pilot, she saw the value of a "bird's eye view" to advance conservation. For 26 years, Merry has flown for LightHawk and its partners.
During one memorable flight she had a U.S. Senator and his wife as passengers. She recounts, “We flew over a lovely part of southeastern Colorado, in an area that was under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Defense. It was being used primarily for tank training. The area in question was a lovely canyon, housing the Purgatoire River, with several observable dinosaur tracks imbedded adjacent to the stream bottom. We flew and photographed this area extensively, and then did flights over the Pueblo area to view railroad cars in which were stored nerve gas left over from WWI. At the time, the only way to destroy the gas was to burn it, and this had been started.”
After the flight, Merry and the Senator hiked through the canyon area and viewed the dinosaur tracks up close. The government subsequently protected the canyon, and other adjacent lands.
Merry and her late husband John have four children and six grandchildren. Merry says, “next to my family, flying for LightHawk has been the most important and exciting part of my life!”