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Wings of hope

Teresa Camp, with Boeing Defense & Government Services,  volunteers her  time with other volunteers from Wings of Hope in St. Louis.

Randy Jackson/Boeing

Teresa Camp, with Boeing Defense & Government Services, volunteers her time with other volunteers from Wings of Hope in St. Louis. Camp, holding an iron, is pressing cloth surfaces of the horizontal stabilizer of a vintage DC-3 airplane. The control surfaces of this aircraft are all cloth-covered.

As the chief engineer for Boeing Defense & Government Services, Teresa Camp spends a lot of time solving complicated issues. Over the past three decades, she has worked on some of the Department of Defense’s most complex programs, from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to Trident and Poseidon missile programs.

While the California native has a great deal of pride in her engineering accomplishments, her most rewarding achievement doesn’t involve the use of any of the complex tools that engineers use on a daily basis.  

“I learned to fly about 11 years ago while I was an engineer in Boeing’s Phantom Works organization,” Camp said. “I thought it would make me a better engineer since Boeing is an aerospace company, and most of my previous experience had been with subs and missiles.”

She earned her pilot certificate with ratings in instrument, single-engine land, and single-engine sea, and while the energetic engineer spends her days working on many Phantom Works programs, she devotes as much free time as possible to the Wings of Hope organization, helping to rebuild old and weathered airplanes.

"I got to combine my engineering knowledge and my flying knowledge and put that back into the historic aircraft."

Wings of Hope, a St. Louis-based charity that repairs donated aircraft and flies them to areas around the globe to be used for medical transportation, has locations in 42 countries and provides medical support to some of the world’s most isolated areas. This year, the organization also received word that it has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Camp’s first project with Wings of Hope -- helping to rebuild a World War II-vintage DC-3 airplane that would be used to fly as a remote medical transport aircraft -- allowed her to use her skills as both an engineer and a pilot.

Teresa Camp, chief engineer  of Boeing Defense & Government Services, pilots  a sea-plane on Lake Hood in  Anchorage, Alaska

Randy Jackson/Boeing

Teresa Camp, chief engineer of Boeing Defense & Government Services, pilots a seaplane on Lake Hood in Anchorage, Alaska, while working on her seaplane pilot’s rating.

“I got to combine my engineering knowledge and my flying knowledge and put that back into the historic aircraft,” said Camp. “I rebuilt the manifold and pulled the prop.”

Today, the DC-3 is flying medical transportation missions around the world.

Doug Clements, president of Wings of Hope, says the generosity of the organization’s volunteers is responsible for its success and the humbling recognition of its peace prize nomination.

“These people who put their heart and soul into the work we do for mankind, which are usually the poor and impoverished of the world, they’re the ones that earn the awards,” said Clements.

Last June, Camp competed in the annual Air Race Classic, an all-women transcontinental air race that takes place over four days and covers more than 2,100 miles from Ft. Myers, Fla., to Frederick, Md. Through sponsorships for the air race, Camp and her fellow pilot Beverly Cleair raised several thousand dollars for Wings of Hope.

“We’re flying to help the kids, who are the important thing,” Camp said. “This is the second time for me to fly in it. It not only raises money for Wings of Hope, but I hope it also inspires other women to learn how to fly as well.”

Click on the video above for a full report on Teresa Camp and her efforts as a pilot with Wings of Hope.