ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] A familiar name from the list?
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Thread: [Acro] A familiar name from the list?
Message: [Acro] A familiar name from the list?
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From: "Seppanen, Kari J" <kari.j.seppanen at boeing.com>
Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2002 02:13:36 UTC
These Business Fliers See Beyond the Bottom Line New York Times 06/04/02 author: Eve Tahmincioglu c. 2001 New York Times Company Jeffrey Jacober, chief executive of the Ocean Group, a health care holding company in Providence, R.I., was flying his six-seater Cessna 340 airplane one evening three years ago when he suddenly began to cry. It was not a deal gone bad that moved him to tears. It was the sight of a bandaged 12-year-old girl named Laurie, strapped in the seat behind him with third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body from a fire in her grandmother's trailer. "Her hands and feet were burned off and all her facial features were gone," Mr. Jacober said. But her family was too poor to pay for transportation back and forth from Syracuse to the Boston Shriners Hospital in Boston for burn treatments and reconstructive surgery. That's where Mr. Jacober, 48, came in. He became her volunteer pilot, taking her once every few months to Boston and back - all at his expense. Her condition has since improved, he says; she can walk, and her doctors have rebuilt her nose. Mr. Jacober is part of a growing crop of corporate executives who are putting the private planes that ordinarily take them to business destinations and vacation hideaways to another use: delivering the sick and injured to hospitals for treatment. At last count, more than 4,000 of them had joined a little-publicized nonprofit group called Angel Flight America, which traces its roots to a project started in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1983 by a group of 12 pilots. In just the last three years, Angel Flight says, its ranks have grown by 50 percent, to 6,000, including retired military people and commercial airline pilots as well as business executives. "A number of these people feel they've made it, and they are now looking to show thanks," said Larry Camerlin, its general secretary. It is not just altruism. For many corporate executives, flying is a passion, and they are looking for any reason to hit the skies, says Michael Higgins, publisher of Flying Adventures, a quarterly magazine for owners of private planes. "So why not do something good while you're at it?" he asked. Karim Houry, 37, a vice president for finance at American Express, wanted to do more with his pilot's license than going for "$100 hamburgers," he joked, using insider parlance for flights taken just for the fun of it. So he signed up with Angel Flight last year and now flies missions with his friend Mike Rizzo, 48, president of Baldwell & Walsh Building Construction in Newtown, Conn., in Mr. Rizzo's four-seat Cessna 174. In March, the team flew a mother and her 3-year-old daughter who had brittle-bone disease from Allentown, Pa., to Montreal for an experimental treatment. "The little girl had a cast on but she obviously didn't know what was wrong with her," Mr. Houry said. "She was smiling all the time on the plane." Klein Gilhousen, a founder and senior vice president for technology at Qualcomm, the wireless telecommunications company, had a similar experience. For the last 10 years, Mr. Gilhousen has been commuting every other month from his home in Montana to Qualcomm's headquarters in San Diego in a seven-passenger Cessna Citation business jet. In February, he took a day off to transport a 21-year-old college student with Hodgkin's disease from Bozeman, Mont., to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant. During the flight, the student joined Mr. Gilhousen, 60, at the controls. "It was a wonderful feeling," he said. "I felt like I had found a unique way to help someone who needed help badly, not like just writing a check." Most of the patients Angel Flight transports have cancer or orthopedic problems or are burn victims, and about 50 percent are children. But, Mr. Camerlin of Angel Flight said, volunteers will fly anyone who has a compelling reason to fly and does not have the money to do so. That may include taking a child to a burn camp or flying a family from New York to Maryland for a rare-disease conference. In one case, a volunteer flew a battered woman with her children in the late evening to an undisclosed safe location. For corporate executives on the verge of burnout, such missions can have a therapeutic effect. "When you're running a company you are dealing with your own reality, but it isn't necessarily the true reality," said Charles Kissner, 54, the chief executive of Stratex Networks, a maker of wireless-phone networking products in San Jose, Calif. "As an executive, you can get pretty focused on the job when you're at it from 60 to 100 hours a week." To focus instead on what is really important in life, Mr. Kissner takes time off about four times a year to fly patients to hospitals in his Cessna Citation. And he often witnesses displays of courage that put things in perspective for him. He still gets choked up at the memory of a 30-year-old lung cancer victim, a karate instructor who had never smoked. "He was the picture of health when I started flying him," he recalled. "But what impressed me the most was his constant positive attitude even while he was deteriorating." Steven Bernstein, 31, chief executive of Interport Maintenance in Newark, which repairs and sells marine freight containers, says his connection to the family of a teenage boy who had a heart transplant at the age of 14 and was then found to have lymphoma, opened his eyes. For the last year, Mr. Bernstein has been flying Jamie Ingalls, now 17, and his family from Syracuse to Teterboro, N.J., for treatment at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan. And he has become friends with them all. "It reminds you of what really counts beyond the quarterly profit results, or the outcome of a negotiation," he said. It was only after the third flight, said Norman Ingalls, Jamie's father, that the family found out their pilot was a corporate executive. "We were amazed," he said.