Flying is a life-altering experience and many see it as a precious gift. Tim Suereth and his wife Dianne Thorne decided that no one deserves this gift more than veterans who have been injured in the line of duty.
The Miami couple created Veterans Retreat, a not-for-profit corporation that provides a flight training experience for veterans. The couple started the organization last year with their own funds, but are now working to raise funds to expand their efforts.
It’s for a good cause, said Suereth, a pilot and veteran.
“I really gained a lot from my pilot training and want to translate that to a rewarding experience for wounded veterans,” he explained.
The program is not designed to turn veterans into pilots in a day. Rather, it is designed to give them a taste of aviation, as well as an overview of the opportunities out there for them.
Flights are conducted at Florida’s at Opa Locka Airport in a Cirrus SR22 owned by Platinum Aviation.
“Our instructors donate their time,” Suereth said. “Each person gets three to four hours of ground school. They also learn how to inspect an aircraft before flight, how to create a flight plan and how to get a weather briefing. If we have the time, we even take them into the control tower for a tour.”
Health requirements for pilots – and how to get waiver – are a big part of the program.
“We also teach them about the regulations and the benefits and drawbacks of training under Part 61 and Part 141 because everyone’s situation is different,” he said. “They get at least one hour of actual flight time which includes an instrument approach.”
The experience doesn’t stop when the prop stops turning. Should the veteran wish to pursue aviation, Thorne and Suereth try to get them in touch with flight schools where they live so they can continue their training.
For more information: VeteransRetreat.com.