Maine Pilots Needed
…Okay, Truth be Known, Pilots from Everywhere Needed
By Tom Quinby
Just the other day while passing through a general store here in Maine, I caught a glimpse of the top headline for The Bangor Daily News, the largest newspaper serving the northern half of the state of Maine.
“Presque Isle Celebrates New Airline’s First Take Off”
Officials from Northern Maine were celebrating United Express’ new jet service from Presque Isle to Newark.
United Airlines is the replacement Essential Air Service (EAS) for PenAir. The service provides airlift from underserved regions to large air hubs. Since 2012, PenAir was providing daily flights from PQI- BOS and back. In addition, PenAir had generously donated seats to PALS for patient use when volunteer pilots were not available to transport them to medical treatment. With United taking over the contract, direct service to BOS has ceased, along with the vouchers offered to patients, and EWR is now the air hub for Northern Mainers.
If you’re flying your family to Florida for vacation, that’s fine, but for patients seeking medical treatment in Boston, this is no celebration. What if you have been traveling to BOS for months or years for just one hour appointments? Now your itinerary will have to be PQI-EWR-BOS-EWR-PQI. Can you imagine the delays? And that’s assuming you could afford the price of the ticket.
This is what our Northern Maine PALS passengers are now facing. No more commercial air service directly to BOS to accommodate their medical needs at Boston area hospitals.
Talk to any of our PALS Mission Coordinators, and they will tell you that missions from Maine are a large percentage of our mission demands. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough area pilots available to serve the demand from Northern Maine. With PenAir now gone as a resource, that leaves many passengers without viable options to receive life-saving medical treatment in Boston. And it leaves PALS struggling to find volunteers to meet the need.
Pilots, if you are able to help with one of these flights, I implore you to do so. For anyone considering some flight time in Maine airspace, being a lifeline to someone in need is a great motivation. But if that isn’t enough, here are some additional suggestions to help you point the nose of that airplane north-northeast….
Maine is a beautiful state to fly over. Unrivaled with woods, water and coastal scenery.
Try some personal time in Maine, in your airplane, before or after a PALS mission.
Stop in PWM, the foodie and micro-brewery town. Check out the Transportation Museum in RKD. Visit Acadia National Park near BHB. Try some fishing in the areas of Greenville, 3B1 or Rangeley Lakes, 8B0. Count Lighthouses along the coast. Visit a few…
The airspace of Maine is amazing. Scenic, traffic-free, and well-served by the radars of BOS center, PWM and BGR local radars.
By now, I bet you’re thinking that the 290 NM mile PQI-BOS run, is a little long for your 140 KT airplane. Don’t let that deter you. Our hard-working Mission Coordinators can reroute flights from Northern Maine through airports like LEW or PWM, and rely on southern New England pilots for that second leg to Boston. This would effectively reduce the northern leg by nearly 100 NMs. For a little added incentive, here’s a NOTAM about KLEW: the airport café:“Backwoods Bar B Que”, has a fabulous Smoker for delicious Ribs and Bar B Q meats.
Maine has a lot of PALS demand, and a lot to offer Pilots for rewarding destinations. Please think about adding some missions for memorable flights.
See you on the frequency…
About the Author
Tom Quinby is enjoying his second year as a Mission Assistant for PALS. His other cockpit is an MD-11 for FedEx. Prior to FDX, he spent 5 years at 5000’, flying for the regional BarHarbor Airlines based in KPWM. Now Tom calls his summer home, Yarmouth, Maine.