Scott and Colleen Unick of Fort Worth, TX, both spent successful careers in ground transportation: Scott was assistant superintendent of corridor operations at BNSF Railway, while Colleen was a project manager at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Newly retired, the Unicks have spent more and more time in the air in their Piper PA-32R. [Pictured above: Colleen and Scott Unick (foreground) flying Tiffany and her husband Timothy to Houston for her treatment.]
Scott and Colleen knew that they wanted to spend some of their air time helping others. They flew several times for Operation AirDrop, an ad hoc group of pilots who pulled together during Hurricane Harvey to fly supplies to coastal towns along the Gulf. Once that effort ended, the Unicks kept their eye out for a more permanent opportunity to volunteer and found Angel Flight South Central. Colleen spotted a flyer in the Shreveport, LA, airport while they were in town visiting, and they signed up shortly after. In the six months since joining AFSC, the Unicks have become one of our more frequent flyers.
[Above: Colleen (far left) and Scott (far right) about to board their Piper with passengers Donnie and Debbie.]
For now, Scott is the one with the license and private instrument rating. He had hoped to fly for the Navy after high school, but did not qualify due to the Navy’s very strict vision requirements. So at 23 he obtained a private license and flew for several years before changing careers to focus on raising his family. Recently, Scott began flying for pleasure more frequently, purchasing their plane and obtaining his instrument rating so that the couple could fly cross-country.
For her part, Colleen is also studying to become a pilot and hopes to obtain her license within the next two years. On Angel Flights, her presence and her knowledge of aircraft means that Scott can focus on the initial safety briefing and then flying the plane. Colleen handles everything else: having passengers sign waiver forms, helping them settle in with their luggage and seat belts, securing the door locks, providing in-flight snacks, taking photographs, and providing regular updates about weather and arrival times.
“We generally just love being together in everything we do,” says Colleen. “We are a good pair, balancing each other’s skills and we both agree that it is our duty to give back to the community in any way we can. We think that our passengers are more comfortable flying with us as a couple because the pilot can focus on the pilot checklist while his wife focuses on them as passengers.”
[Pictured above: 3-month-old Dyer with his older brother, Blake, and parents, Brock and Lauran, on the Unicks’ plane.]
The couple have been touched by every one of the passengers they have flown, but they say the children have moved them the most. They flew eight-year-old Daveigh Jo to visit her mother, who is receiving treatment for a rare skin condition. More recently, they transported three-month-old Dyer and his family to Fort Worth because Dyer has a congenital issue that requires specialized treatment.
“Through these families we get to see Hope, Faith, Love and Trust in action,” says Colleen. “The families are so appreciative and are able to relax for a couple hours of flight instead of stressing out from long drives to and from treatment. We return home with such full hearts after meeting these special people struggling with health challenges feeling like we just extended our family a little further. We like to share our missions on Facebook as many of our family and friends like to send prayers for our passengers. It is our way of not drawing attention to ourselves, but to the needs of our community in hope that others will want to join in and give of their time and skills to help others.”