Dog Is My CoPilots is grateful for our volunteers that support our mission! We have seven dedicated volunteer pilots that fly the Big Dog for our rescue missions. This volunteer pilot team saves our organization over $100,000 a year in pilot fees, which goes directly into rescuing more dogs and cats.
Including our founder Dr. Peter Rork, we have seven volunteer pilots that will participate in the upcoming rescue season. Let’s introduce you to our crew so you can see how lucky we are to have these talented pilots.
Peter “The Pilot” Rork founded Dog Is My CoPilot in 2012 and leads our pilot crew. After working his way through medical school as a pilot, Dr. Rork practiced Orthopedic Surgery for more than thirty years. Instead of retiring to a golf course, he has returned to the skies as our Chief Pilot.
Jeff Carter works as a test pilot and instructor for a Department of Defense aircraft manufacturer. He spends five to six months deployed overseas per year, supporting the US military. While stateside, he lives in Southern California with his wife of 30 years and their 5 rescue dogs. Jeff looks forward to helping DIMC save as many pets’ lives as possible.
Dr. Brent Blue, an Airline Transport Pilot rated aviator has over 9,000 hours of flight time. He also practices medicine in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and consults for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as a FAA designated Aviation Medical Examiner. Dr. Blue enthusiastically supports DIMC as a pilot and an original board member.
Chris Spanos flies for Frontier Airlines as an Airline Transport Pilot. Chris also volunteers for New Hope Cattle Dogs Rescue and Re-homing of Colorado. He has assisted his wife Paula with this organization, who founded the group. Chris and Paula enjoy caring for their dogs, chickens and especially enjoy camping in the beautiful Colorado Mountains.
Frank Maresca is a semi-retired mechanical engineer. His winters are spent working on equipment and teaching flying lessons, while the summer brings him to the fire patrol for the Forest Service. Frank and his wife Margo have two children, as well as horses, cows, cats and Thor, the security dog.
Tim Riley has actively flown aircraft for the last thirty years. Tim enjoyed sharing his passion for flying with new pilots at his flight school. He also volunteers for a number of different aviation-related organizations. Tim is excited to be part of the DIMC crew and looks forward to flying the rescued animals to new homes.
Jennifer Boman also flies for a major airline on the Airbus 320. The Colorado native lives now in Carlsbad CA, after 17 years in the USAF as an instructor pilot. She and her husband recently lost their 13 ½ year old dog and Jennifer is excited and grateful for the opportunity to fly for Dog Is My CoPilot.
You can check out our pilots’ full profiles on the Team Page and learn about the thousands of hours flown by our pilots before joining the DIMC flight team.
Pilots go to training
Before a pilot can volunteer for Dog Is My Copilot, they must go through a training program delivered by FlyRight in Charlotte, NC. This organization spends 22 hours with each pilot on the ground and in a simulator to make sure they are completely comfortable with our Cessna Caravan transport plane. The simulator gives the pilots a realistic feel for our plane, down to a near identical instrument panel. After the training, our Chief Pilot Peter Rork, takes each new volunteer pilot on a 2-3 day training flight. On this flight they learn about the plane, how to handle flying with lots of animals in crates, and their schedule on a typical day.
Typical day for a pilot
Rescue flight days are typically long days for our volunteer pilots. Before the animals arrive, the pilots day starts around 4am with preflight checks. The animals are loaded in the early morning and the pilots are hopefully wheels up by 6am. Over the next 8-12 hours the pilots transport and unload the animals in various locations before bringing our plane home to Jackson Hole to prepare for our next rescue flight. Every time the plane lands, it gets refueled, inspected, cleaned and prepped by the pilot for the next leg of the journey. Our partner Rescue organizations supply a crew of volunteers at every stop to meet the Big Dog and the pilot to unload animals. The animals are given water, removed from crates, and transported to vehicles to make the final leg of their journey to adoption centers. We try to limit the time the Big Dog is on the ground so our partner organization and pilots help to expedite each drop off by working together! We ask our volunteer pilots to donate about 100 hours of flight time per year, which really equates to over 400 hours of volunteered time including all the pre and post flight checks and activities.
We need your support
Dog Is My CoPilot provides these transport services free of charge to shelters because of the generous support of our community and our volunteer pilots. If you would like to chip in to show your support of our volunteer pilots, please go to our donation page.