Mission: Wes Schubert

The following entry was written Katie Pribyl, one of our volunteer pilots from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association:

Recently, my colleague, Greg Bowles, and I had the distinct privilege of flying our first VAC mission. We work for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in downtown Washington, DC and we operate a new Cessna 182. I am not sure who was more excited about this mission: the two of us or our passengers. We just can not think of a better way to use general aviation than for a soldier whose sacrifice is too great to measure.
Wes Schubert was injured on his second tour to Iraq when enemy fire sent a bullet through his neck and face. He gives credit to members of his unit for pulling him to safety. In his months and months of recovery, he had not yet had a chance to say thank you to those he credits for saving his life. The Veterans Airlift Command and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association were honored to give him and his wife, Erica, this important opportunity.
In addition, both Wes and Erica were very gracious in allowing Washington’s NBC Channel 4 to come out to Montgomery County Airport and cover the flight. His inspiring story is one that all Americans should hear, but having the news coverage also gave us an opportunity to raise awareness for Veterans Airlift Command. VAC has a special need here in the DC metro area given their great working relationship with Walter Reed Medical Center in nearby Bethesda. Our hope is that potential volunteers in this area will answer the call after seeing the segment.
It was a pleasure to accomplish our mission with fantastic passengers. It was the first long trip in a small plane for the both of them. The highlight of the flight occurred while crossing the mountains of West Virginia. A sunny day was turning overcast as we flew beneath a layer of cumulus clouds just over the mountain valleys below. Light chop seemed to keep good pace with the music that pumped from our XM radio. Our passengers enjoyed the view and the comfortable ride to the small GA strip that was within minutes of their weekend destination.
During the interview, the reporter had asked me what we get out of donating our time and airplane. My answer is hope. Hope that this trip will give Wes some closure with those he feels he owes his life to, and hope that he gains new motivation for recovery as he heads back to Walter Reed for two more years of surgeries.

Katie Pribyl
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
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