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Larry Pecorella loads items into a Cirrus SR22 during Operation Hawkeye Relief.

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Larry Pecorella, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Relief and Relocation of Flood Victims

Larry Pecorella, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, says, "You see all this (flood devastation) happening and you can't turn it off. You feel terrible... so what can you do? Well, we can do this."

Larry was talking about his participation in Operation Hawkeye Relief, organized by NBC's Rockford, IL WREX-13 and Angel Flight Central's Hawkeye and Great Lakes Wings in response to the devastating floods in Iowa and Illinois last summer.

A number of public service announcements about Operation Hawkeye Relief aired on WREX-13. People streamed in to the Rockford Airport throughout the day with bags and boxes of bottled water, toilet paper, sanitizers, sheets, and other basic necessities for Iowa flood victims. Approximately 5,000 pounds of supplies were donated, and volunteer pilots transported the donations to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Upon landing, additional volunteers delivered the supplies to the local evacuation centers.

Three dozen flights were flown through Operation Hawkeye Relief with half carrying cargo and half carrying flood victims needing to be relocated.

Type/model aircraft operated in mission or public benefit flying? Where is most of your flying activity?
I've been flying with Travel Express Aviation at Dupage. They have different planes for different missions. I mainly fly either an SR22 or a Piper Aztec depending on the mission.

When did you become involved in mission or public benefit flying and why?
Most of my flying has been in the Midwest, with some trips to the east coast, and down to Florida. I started flying about 12 years ago when my oldest daughter was 14. The reason was that all three of my kids were pretty good athletically and I figured they would play in college. If you go to school in the Midwest, every school seems to be about seven hours away by car, with no major airport near by. Seemed like a no-brainer. It worked out great, all three kids played something in college, and we never missed a game.

Well, after the games ended my wife and I needed another reason - I just hate not flying without a purpose - and helping someone else out seemed like the perfect solution.

What is the most memorable flight you have ever had and why?
Operation Hawkeye Relief, mentioned above, is the most memorable and the reason why was the weather delay we experienced. Because of that delay, we got a chance to meet the other pilots and that was most enjoyable. Everyone has a different story on why they're there, but it's pretty obvious that pilots, as a group, are very generous and helpful people. It gives you a sense pride to belong to such an unselfish group

What would you like EAA members to know about the type of flying you do?
Get involved with any type of charity flying! There's a need and it'll be the most rewarding type of flying you can experience.

Why is the Fly For Life program important to EAA AirVenture 2009 attendees?
In an age of constant threats to general aviation, I think it's really important we get the word out any way we can that restrictions, fees, and the like can have an adverse effect on the important assistance and services that the general aviation community provides.

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