COUNTDOWN TO KICKSTARTER

PrideFlight2018 prepares to launch Kickstarter Campaign!

Well the day is almost here.  After months of agonizing, planning and development the time is almost upon us to launch the Kickstarter campaign to complete the purchase of the plane.  I would be a liar if I didn’t confide in you that I am nervous.  I have never launched a Kickstarter before and from what I have read even the best designed campaign can fail to reach its funding goals if not enough people are aware of it or believe in the project.  Kickstarter is an “All or Nothing” model so there is no partial funding if we fail to reach our goal and that’s the scariest part.

 

KICKSTARTER

A successful campaign means that we can move forward to complete the purchase of the plane and begin the process of getting it here in Indianapolis, but an unsuccessful campaign will mean that we need to learn more about what we can do in the next round to make it successful.  My team and I have worked hard to put together a presentation that we hope resonates with people that will see the campaign, but with these types of projects you just don’t know what will or will not click with people.

 

PRIDEFLIGHT2018 TEAM

I am proud of the people involved so far who have given so much of their time and creativity to make this work and I know that whatever happens we will continue to work hard to make PrideFlight2018 a reality.  Beginning this week, we are launching all the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and will begin posting updates, photos and videos.  In addition, I think we have finally worked out the last remaining details for the website www.prideflight2018.com and it is looking great!

 

Our marketing team will be sending out an email blast to LGBTQ organizations worldwide announcing this project and seeking their support.  We will also be issuing a press release while reaching out to media contacts, LGBTQ celebrities and influencers worldwide in hopes of getting their help to spread the word.

THOUGHTS…

I am confident that my team will do its very best to launch a successful campaign and will work hard during the subsequent 30 days after the launch to help us reach our goal.  I realize that this project is so large in scope that I know some will not be able to wrap their arms around it, but all it will take is an army of small donors to help reach our goal and bring the Bag lady home to Indy.  I hope all of you that are reading this will help us make our campaign successful by liking our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PrideFlight2018/, visiting our website http://www.prideflight2018.com and supporting our Kickstarter campaign www.kickstarter.com/prideflight2018 and sharing these links with your network.

I know that sometimes when you try to do something extraordinary there will be those that want to drag you down, discourage you and dismiss your attempt, but that has never stopped me from trying before and it won’t now.

I believe that PrideFlight2018 has the potential to inspire people from every community around the globe and in these troubled and tumultuous times I think trying to set the record of being the first openly gay pilot to circumnavigate the globe flying a DC3 is something worthy of people’s support, don’t you?

 

 

The Bag Lady needs a good crew- and YOU!

As promised we have hit the ground running after the first of the year. I have taken a much more serious approach to my health and getting my Type 2 Diabetes under control and my A1C glucose average down to below the maximum allowable percentage of 8.9. A couple of trips to the Flight Surgeon at the VA and some minor adjustments to my oral medication and it appears that things are back on track.

With over 10,000 flight hours it’s a little embarrassing to have to fly with an instructor while I wait for the FAA to re-issue my medical, but at least I get to fly and in the left seat too! Once I get cleared then I will be able to rent a plane again and fly solo to wherever I want to go. I took flying for granted and it wasn’t until that fateful wake up call over the summer when the Flight Surgeon said he couldn’t issue my medical right there and then because I had Diabetes that I have grown to re-appreciate the priveledge of being able to fly.

With all of that now being addressed, it’s just a waiting game for now, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a million other things that I could be doing to prepare for the flight. I have begun the search for crew and I completely recognize that this is probably going to be one of those things where you think it is going to be easy at first, but then realizing that finding the right person with the right qualifications and time to commit is actually very difficult. There is no shortage of people that “want” to be a part of PrideFlight2018 but being totally committed to it for the long haul, that’s another story.

The flight will take a year or more and will most likely entail leaving the plane in some foreign and exotic locale for short periods. It’s during these periods that some or all of the crew will have an opportunity to fly home to the states for a brief respite from the journey. Most likely there will be a rotation of co-pilots, navigators and engineers who will only fly certain legs of the flight before being relived by the second tier of crew. Me as the PIC (Pilot in Command) will fly every leg and there may be some crew that also stay with the flight for its entirety. Hopefully, over the next few weeks and months I will be able to find the right people for our crew and I can start including them in the flight planning process.

I am working hard to get the plane here in Indianapolis this summer and know that for some people, PrideFlight2018 wont become real until the DC3 is sitting on the ground here at home. We are launching a Kickstarter campaign in mid February and have already secured several corporate sponsors and will be issuing a joint press release with The Indy Bag Ladies and others ahead of the Kickstarter launch.

It is very important to me and this project that PrideFlight2018 serve as a source of community pride and that we welcome as many people who want to volunteer be able to participate in the preparation and planning of this flight. It will take many people from every walk of life and facet of our community to make this project a reality and ultimately a success and in the end this is a goodwill flight with no aspirations beyond showing what we as a community can do when we put our best efforts forward.

If you would like to know more or become a volunteer email me at dj@prideflight2018.com and be sure to like us on Facebook

Back in the left seat once again!

In the left seat once again!

After months of delays and some second-guessing on my part, I am feeling renewed in my effort to complete PrideFlight2018. I will admit that this past year threw some curve balls into the mix, but like with anything worth doing there are bound to be some setbacks, I get it. However, one of the most unexpected of those was the deferral of my class III medical certificate during my annual flight physical. In over 35 years of being on continuous flight status I have never been denied my Medical due to health reasons, even if it is temporary.

The day of my physical this past summer was just another routine physical until I broke the unspoken cardinal pilots rule, “Don’t volunteer anything about your medical condition that could potentially affect your flight status”. During conversation I blurted out that I have type 2 Diabetes but I am working on keeping it under control. Earlier in the week I had found out that my A1C blood test came back at 11 when it should have been at 7 or lower as required by the FAA. As soon as the words passed from my lips I regretted it. The Flight Surgeon was now obligated to submit my medical results to the FAA for review and approval, known as a deferral and immediately grounding me.

I have never been grounded for medical reasons before and the shock hit me like punch in the gut. I left the Flight Surgeons office feeling depressed and angry. I drove home mulling over what I had just done to my flying future and myself? Accepting that I am getting older and therefore now have some limitations has been a hard adjustment. I hate having to use readers, getting worn out physically when I do things that never tired me out before and most importantly having to deal with new health related issues that I never had to deal with before. I have always hated taking pills, going to the Dr. or changing my well established habits, but now I am faced with a stark reality, If I want to continue flying I have to finally give in and take better care of myself. I will have to accept that I am no longer 20ish even though my mind refuses to catch up to my body if I want to keep flying.

In a way I am kind of glad that I got this wake up call when I did. I have always taken for granted that I would be flying until the day that they pried the yoke out of my hands in my old age. After a few months of frustration and making some changes to my lifestyle I am almost cleared for flight status. The whole process of getting grounded and dealing with the Bureaucracy of the FAA has been eye opening and educational and I will be much more protective of my medical certificate in the future, that’s for certain.

In the interim I have been working on the ground school refresher endorsements that I will need and will begin flying with an instructor beginning after the holidays to keep my flying skills sharp. Granted I wont be the PIC (Pilot in Command), but I will at least be in the air and for me that’s starting the New Year off on the right foot.

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An Idea is born!

 

DJ in the cockpit of DC3 Since October when I first announced PrideFlight2018 and basked in the glow of finally getting it out there in the public domain the enormity of the project seemed overwhelming at times. It is not that I am not up to the task nor was I deterred by the challenge, I just came to realize that 2 years would be upon me in a proverbial blink of an eye.

As with any project of this size a scope the biggest challenge so far has been raising the necessary funds needed for each of the different pieces of the mission and we are not talking about a few thousand dollars here, but rather almost a million dollars! First there is the purchase of the plane itself and then the overhauling of the engines, systems, avionics, interior and décor. Then there is the training, equipment, spare parts, fuel, support team, insurance and a million other details and costs associated with a 7-12 month global mission.   Anyone who is not thought of as crazy would be crushed by the sheer weight of the mission planning alone for PrideFlight2018, not to mention being able to endure the physical challenge of flying the plane itself for long hours over wide swaths of ocean, mountainous terrain and hostile countries! As a pilot these are challenges to be met and overcome and I am determined to overcome these obstacles and succeed.

I must admit however that I was surprised to discover that the purchase of the plane will most likely be the easiest part of this whole process even if I am able to raise the necessary funds. Of course there is always the hope that I will win Powerball and self-fund PrideFlight2018, but that’s a long shot so I have been focusing on ways to raise the capital needed.

Ideally we need to be completely funded before we take off and so I created a sponsorship plan that allows bigger corporations to support PrideFlight2018, getting worldwide attention and exposure and in return, we get the funding we need to complete the mission, a win-win for everyone! Over the last few weeks I have been working on creating the flight plan. This is one of the most important pieces of the overall mission puzzle because of the altitude/speed and range limitations of the DC3. Fling across the U.S. is the easiest part of the flight because fuel, parts, support and other necessary resources are readily available, but once we cross over into the great white north (Canada) and land at Goose Bay were pretty much on our own.

I have been working with LGBTQ organizations and groups in New Orleans, Key West and New York as possible stopping points once we depart Indianapolis. We will only be stopping in 3-4 locations in the United States before we head north across the American border and into Canada and I want to them to be where there is the greatest concentration of LGBTQ people. We are planning for stops in San Francisco, Palm Springs and Las Vegas on the final legs of our flight before landing back in Indianapolis. It is important to me and the PrideFlight2018 mission that we reach and engage as many people in the global LGBTQ community as possible. This mission is about spreading goodwill and promoting what we can do as individuals that make a difference if we set our minds to it and that is a message that everyone can relate to.

At the launch of this project and during a Q&A someone asked me if I was scared. The simple answer is HELL YES I am scared out of my wits and for a multitude of reasons including that this is something that I have never done before.

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The DC3 is not a luxurious jet by any stretch of the imagination and the bone jarring vibrations of the radial engines are second only to the deafening noise. The plane is not pressurized so are altitudes are limited up to 10,000 feet or below and there is a minimal heating system so we will have to dress for the lower temps at those higher altitudes. If that isn’t enough to scare the daylights out of anyone then the fact that we will have to fly almost 700 nautical miles across the frigid North Atlantic from Happy Valley airport in Goose Bay to Nukk airfield in Narsasuack Greenland and then another 800 nautical miles from there across more ocean to land in Reykjavik Iceland before alighting in Glasgow and then Europe. If that isn’t enough to scare you stupid then there is that whole part of the flight plan that will have us flying across the gay friendly Middle East before crossing the Arabian Sea to even friendlier India and Myanmar before finally reaching welcoming Thailand and that is just the first half of the mission!

But, being afraid has never stopped me before and it won’t stop me now. I know the odds are slim that I will be able to pull everything together in order to complete the PrideFlight2018 mission, but I have a history of beating the odds.

PrideFlight Half Page AdTo support PrideFlight2018 go to our Fundable page:

https://www.fundable.com/prideflight2018