Boeing volunteer pilots join the COVID-19 fight from the air

Employees take to the skies in order to deliver masks to remote areas in Washington State.

May 14, 2020 in Our Community

Troy Larson (left), Boeing test pilot and Boeing Employees Flying Association operations officer, and three Washington State Hospital Association teammates stand in front of Larson’s airplane with a box of equipment destined to a remote Washington hospital.

Photo courtesy: Wes McKechnie

A group of Boeing employees are turning their passion for flying into a lifesaving mission during the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the past few weeks, trained and qualified pilots from the Boeing Employees Flying Association (BEFA) delivered hundreds of thousands of surgical masks to remote hospitals Washington State including Port Angeles, Forks, Okanogan County and Ferry County where they were down to a three-day supply of masks.

The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), along with private donations, funded the purchase of 300,000 masks for hospitals, long-term care facilities, first responders and homeless shelters statewide.

“We are so thankful for WSHA and the pilots who are going above and beyond to help our small hospitals overcome challenges as we face COVID-19,” said Leilah Taylor, Mid-Valley Hospital purchasing manager and incident command logistics chief.

Flying the masks to places that aren’t easily reached is saving crucial time in the fight against the virus.

“We fly our own planes to deliver the masks in an hour where it might take a 24 hours or more by car and ferry,” said Troy Larson, Boeing test pilot and BEFA operations officer. “It feels good to be able to lend my skills and love for flying to help protect those on the frontlines who are putting their lives at risk to save others.”

BEFA was formed more than 60 years ago to create a community to make general aviation affordable and accessible. Membership is open to all current Boeing Employees and retirees and other qualified individuals.