Depending on the trip, the flights are typically about two hours each way. Some times we have to fly to a destination where we will pickup the dogs or the dogs were brought to us at our airport.
The dogs seem to tolerate flying very well. But keep in mind our approach is to hold and cuddle the dogs in flight so they never feel alone. Pam is constantly petting them and reassuring them so it is quite common for them to fall asleep. That is unless they are a little Jack Russell puppy, you know who you are.
Steve tends to fly below 7,000 feet in order to make it as comfortable on the dogs as possible. It is just about the same type of air pressure at that altitude that you would experience on a commercial flight.
And when we are flying Steve is focused on all of the aviation parts of monitoring other traffic in the sky,, weather conditions, air traffic control, preparing for instrument approaches, etc.
Since Steve is an instrumented rated pilot, we sometimes fly through lots of clouds, rain, and nasty weather. Don’t worry, the plane is rated for those type of conditions and he’s a good pilot.
But even though we might fly in rainy weather, we never take chances. Our first priority is the safety and comfort of our canine passengers. Our goal is for everyone in the plane to arrive alive.
On the way we are typically in constant contact with air traffic control and when we have the dogs onboard we fly under the callsign “COMPASSION.” The compassion callsign is for public benefit flights through the Air Care Alliance umbrella. And while the callsign does not give us priority over other traffic, air traffic control usually is very sympathetic to giving us optimal routing.
If for some reason a dog we were carrying for medical care was to develop an urgent medical situation in flight, we could convert our callsign to MEDEVAC for priority ATC handling. We’ve never had to do that yet.
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