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

May 14, 2020 in Community

Troy Larson (left) and three Washington State Hospital Association teammates in front of an airplane with a box of equipment 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 is turning its passion for flying into a lifesaving mission during the COVID-19 crisis.

Trained and qualified pilots from the Boeing Employees Flying Association have delivered hundreds of thousands of surgical masks the past few weeks to remote hospitals across Washington state, including Port Angeles, Forks, Okanogan County and Ferry County, which was 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.

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