Wings of Appreciation (WOA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing flights in private aircraft to wounded or hospitalized men and women who have or are serving our country in the armed forces. The purpose of the flight is to show those who have served that their commitment to our country is appreciated.
WOA has events all across the United States. A typical event will take a group from the hospital to a local airport, place them in private aircraft, and fly to a designated destination. Many of the events will also provide lunch for the participants. The pilots will then fly back to the airport of origination, and participants will return to their facility.
Flights are typically under an hour each way from takeoff to touchdown. All pilots are FAA certified, have appropriate insurance and flight experience. Under no circumstances will flights be conducted if weather is not clear or there is forecasted turbulence for the planned flights.
WOA uses an event leader to coordinate pilot, ground control, and food related activities. We work closely with the medical facility coordinator to identify appropriate participants and facilitate the event, including transportation to/from a local airport.
Board of Directors
Wiley grew up near Berkeley, CA and saw the horrible treatment veterans received when returning to the United States. After a successful career in publishing he co-founded SkyConnect a specialized avionics company which was sold in 2008. Shortly after that time he successfully did a test project to prove their were pilots that wanted to show their appreciation to the wounded, ill, and injured veterans. Since then Wings of Appreciation has flown hundreds of flights in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Karl Grundmann – started his career in aviation by serving in the US Navy. He was an aviation catch fire fighter and later an air traffic controller on land and sea. After discharge he worked for the next 28 years as an air traffic controller in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). His last federal job was as a Subject Matter Expert for the NASA Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, California. Karl currently works part-time for the FAA in the Office of Communications. He is married to Susan and has two daughters Shonna and Milla.
Rufus Decker is a seasoned Gold Seal Certificated Flight Instructor in both Airplanes (single-engine, multi-engine and instrument) and Gliders with thousands of instructional hours given. He is an Airline Transport Pilot (Airplane—single-engine and multi-engine land and sea) with Commercial privileges in Gliders. He also holds FAA Ground Instructor (advanced and instrument) and Remote Pilot (small unmanned aircraft systems) certificates. When he is not flying, he is a Certified Public Accountant with many years of experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and lives in Arlington, VA with his wife and two sons.
Tom Ossim recently retired from Deloitte Consulting where he was a Director in their Public Service and Strategy and Operation Sectors. He specialized in implementing financial management systems while supporting clients such as the U.S. Senate, U.S. Representatives, the Executive Office of the President, and the Department of Transportation. He currently lives in Vienna, VA with his wonderful wife of 25 years where and spends time volunteering, taking pictures, traveling, and chasing golf balls.
Brandon R. “Randy” Belote, III joined Northrop Grumman’s Corporate Communications staff in June 2001 as Director of Corporate and International Communications, following the acquisition of Litton Industries, Inc. by Northrop Grumman in April 2001. He was appointed a Corporate Vice President in June 2005. In 2008, he was named vice president, Strategic Communications, focusing on the company’s priority new business captures and campaigns, efforts to keep existing programs sold and other companywide business outreach activities. Strategic Communications works closely with the corporation’s Government Relations, Customer Relations, Corporate Strategy and Business Development organizations. This organization is also responsible for Corporate Media Relations where he serves as the corporate spokesman for domestic and international activities.
Renee Lippman Priore is a retired Army Officer of 22 years. She has served in multiple locations in the United States, Europe and Vietnam. She continues to be interested in supporting military activities, especially those supporting Veterans. Through support to Wings of Appreciation and raising service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence (who gives service dogs to qualified disabled veterans) she is able to fulfill these aims.