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Gwinnett County Pilot Volunteers to Fly Mercy Missions

Zack Schmidt loves to fly. In fact, it seems as if he is always flying. Whether for his job as an air ambulance pilot, as an Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program volunteer introducing youths to flight, to visit with family in North Carolina, or just for fun.

But all those hours at the controls wasn’t enough for the Hoschton, Ga. resident. So, in June Schmidt became a Mercy Flight Southeast volunteer pilot.

“Approximately 650 pilots provide free air transportation to Mercy Flight Southeast passengers across the Southeast,” said Steve Purello, Mercy Flight Southeast CEO. “The pilots donate their time, fuel and airplanes to help the passengers get to far-from-home medical care. Without the generosity of pilots like Zack, these people would not be able to get to life-saving treatment because of the cost or distance to travel.”

Schmidt’s first Mercy Flight Southeast mission was to fly three young siblings to a summer camp for children with a serious medical condition.

“On my last mission, I flew a woman to Atlanta for her appointment with a cancer specialist. She asked why I volunteer. I told her I wished I could say it’s because I’m a good person but I really just love to fly,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt, whose wife Kathryn is also a pilot, says he was inspired to join the Mercy Flight Southeast pilot network after looking through the log books of his late father-in-law Dexter Stell, who had flown for the organization.

“He was a great pilot and a great man and I wanted to be more like him,” said Schmidt, who earned his pilot’s license in April 2011. “It’s a rewarding feeling to get someone who’s sick to wherever they need to go.”

Mercy Flight Southeast is always recruiting volunteer pilots and sponsors. For information, please call 352-326-0761 or visit

About Mercy Flight Southeast
Mercy Flight Southeast, Inc. is a non-profit volunteer pilot organization that provides free air transportation throughout Florida by private aircraft to distant medical facilities when commercial air service is not available, impractical or simply not affordable. Mercy Flight Southeast is a member of Air Charity Network, an association of charitable aviation organizations comprised of more than 7,500 pilots and who represent over 90% of all charitable non-emergency flights flown in the nation. Mercy Flight Southeast has won the seal of approval from Independent Charities of America recognizing Mercy Flight Southeast as a good steward of the funds it generates from the public.