2017 Award Winners

Steve Danz

Angel Flight West Stephen Danz, 2017 Endeavor Award Winner

Steve Danz is receiving a special award for flying 1000 missions for the first time in Angel Flight West (AFW) history.

Mr. Danz is the Senior Partner and Chief Trial Attorney for Danz & Associates, one of California’s leading and largest employment law firms. Mr. Danz has been a licensed pilot since 1974 and a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight West since August 2000. Steve has flown over 1,000 flights for Angel Flight West, including purchasing commercial tickets when AFW us unable to match a pilot with a patient in need.
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Steve never hesitates to go above and beyond what’s expected of a charitable aviation volunteer. In addition to medical flights, Angel Flight West is the “official airline” for a number of specialty camps for children with cancer, young burn survivors, kids and teens affected by HIV/AIDS, and other agencies. Last summer Steve offered to make two runs in a day — twice. First he flew four youngsters from Southern California to Merced to attend a camp for deaf and hearing-impaired children. Then, after discharging his passengers, he flew up to Sacramento where he picked up four more campers to bring them back to Merced. A week later he did the same trips in reverse. Because of his generous heart, eight children got safely to camp and back home again.

Steve is more than a valued volunteer. He’s the spirit that keeps us soaring.

Jeff Bennett

Pilots N Paws Jeff Bennett, 2017 Endeavor Award Winner

Jeff has generously donated thousands of hours of his time, all fuel costs, and use of his plane to Pilots N Paws (PNP), a 501c3 charitable organization. Flying rescue missions nearly every week since PNP’s inception in 2008, Jeff has flown 5,226 animals that narrowly escaped euthanasia at high-kill shelters to new homes or no-kill shelters.  Jeff serves as both a pilot flying life saving flights and as an advocate for public benefit flying and animal welfare reform. He has presented to thousands of pilots at air shows, FBOs, and other aviation events in order to educate others about Pilots N Paws and attract new volunteer pilots.
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Jeff’s rookie year with PNP he flew a Cessna 172, and in 2009 he began flying his Cirrus SR-22.

In April, 2012 he organized a relay with three other pilots to transport 139 dogs displaced by flooding out of Lafayette, LA. In addition to coordinating with this relay, Jeff flew three additional rescue transports the same day. To those who knew Jeff well, his lead with the Lafayette natural disaster was no surprise since in 2010 he’d had a chief role in flying animals out of the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill.

Jeff has flown military working dogs, homeless and abandoned pets only hours from being euthanized were they not to escape kill shelters, and wildlife in need of relocation to animal sanctuaries where they could receive appropriate care until they could be released again. Jeff has flown dogs, cats, kittens, puppies, potbelly pigs, rabbits, a kinkajou, snakes, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, and turtles to new homes.

Jeff is a team player who prefers not to take the spotlight, and his selflessness as a teacher and mentor has helped to expand pilot leadership within the PNP pilot community.

Lt. Colonel Dick Stoops

Remote Area Medical Lt. Col. Dick Stoops, US Army (ret)

Col. Stoops served the public as a paid fire patrol pilot for the Kentucky Division of Forestry for nine years. He owned and operated a sport parachute center in Kentucky for 20 years during which he taught safety in all aspects of the sport, including parachute rigging. He launched his volunteer “career” with Remote Area Medical by organizing a parachute jump into an isolated region of the mountains of East Tennessee to facilitate a free medical clinic being held by RAM.
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Col. Stoops has flown extensively in Guyana, South America, in support of RAM’s free air ambulance service to the indigenous people of the wilderness Interior. He has made many lifesaving medevac flights into small villages using short, rough, challenging airstrips. Rainforest flying offers inhospitable terrain and weather. He makes medevac flights, maintenance flights and gives check rides to rotating incoming pilots.

His compassion, availability and willingness to serve beyond the cockpit: he spent 14 grueling days in the Guyana rainforest hacking out a trail that connected two isolated villages and improved their access to medical care; he accompanied RAM disaster teams to hurricanes Katrina and Rita as volunteer coordinator and logistics manager; he accompanied RAM disaster teams to Haiti following the devastating earthquake and organized and conducted a parachute jump into a mountain valley to construct an airstrip thus facilitating access to victims during the subsequent cholera epidemic; recently, he spent more than two weeks in Haiti airdropping food (over 55,000 meals) and supplies to victims cut off from any overland assistance following the floods; he has assisted with logistics and security at more than 25 RAM free mobile medical clinics in the US; he serves as moderator for The Salute to Service, a RAM sponsored annual commemoration of all military service men and women with special honor to WWII veterans.