A group of volunteer pilots completed the rescue of a husky in honor of an Oklahoma City man who is still missing in the Gulf of Mexico after the plane he was piloting crashed.
Bill Kinsinger, 55, was reported lost at sea Wednesday after the plane he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Kate Quinn, executive director of Pilots N Paws, said Kinsinger was going from Oklahoma City to Georgetown, Texas, to pick up an 11-year-old husky, Masaru, who needed to be taken from Texas to Oklahoma for medical treatment and was just hours from being put down before Kinsinger agreed to the flight.
About 20 minutes from his destination, Kinsinger’s plane went off track and flew out over the Gulf of Mexico. The plane eventually crashed after passing into Mexican air space and the U.S. Coast Guard is still looking for Kinsinger.
While the search continues, Masaru ended up being picked up by five other Pilots N Paws volunteers, completing the trip in Kinsinger’s honor.
“We've long said that flying rescue animals is a labor of love for our pilots; rescuing animals is Bill's passion,” Quinn told the Washington Examiner in an email. “He's always very upbeat and positive. Very empathetic to everyone he volunteered with encouraging us to ‘save some more.’”
“He once emailed me the following: ‘I am having a great time with PNP. I just signed up in mid July and I have already flown six ‘missions.’ I Love dogs and hate that so many are mistreated or neglected. As long as you have the need, I'll keep flying.’”
Pilots N Paws is a group that transports rescue animals from kill shelters to foster families, no-kill shelters, or forever homes in different states. Often, this means flying animals from one state to another, and Kinsinger used his Cirrus SR22 to fly a mission every week to transport an animal, Quinn said.
His geographically advantageous position in Oklahoma City meant he was often able to move animals from areas where there is a high number of homeless pets to areas where there are families waiting to adopt, Quinn said.
“He is really good at making the most of every PNP flight he flies by taking as many animals as can. He made a great effort to be as efficient as possible by accommodating multiple rescue animals on each flight,” she said.
That efficiency meant he was often working at a stressful pace in order to save the life of a rescue animal.
“So many of the animals flown by Pilots N Paws are escaping kill shelters often hours before they're slated to be euthanized,” Quinn said. “Rescuers work tirelessly to pull animals from the shelters and find them new homes, fosters, or receiving rescues that will commit to finding a forever home. Bill was great at coordinating transport requests, a process that usually has to unfold rather quickly. He flew a lot of senior animals and disabled animals.”
And his involvement wasn’t limited to flying, Quinn said.
When Kinsinger had committed to flying seven dogs from Arkansas to his home in Oklahoma City and ran into plane troubles that would have prevented him from making the flight, he drove all the way to Arkansas to pick them up. He then brought them back to his home, where he had built a “log cabin doghouse” for the dogs to sleep in, Quinn said.
Kinsinger also served as a motivating force for other members of the group.
“Bill is really good at rallying the troops, often seeing a post on our forum board and recruiting pilot friends to help him to complete the transport via relay,” she said.
She added, “It's a really challenging task, but our pilots are generally the type that don't shy away from difficult situations. They're heroes who put themselves at the center of immediate rescue needs, and they're aware that if they can't make the flight, then many times the animal won't make it out of the shelter alive.”
The Coast Guard has said it will search throughout the night for Kinsinger and his plane. The group has not yet given up hope that he’ll be found.
“Please keep Bill and his family in your prayers. We are holding out hope for a miracle that he will be found safe,” a post on the group’s Facebook page read.