| Imagine this; on a gusty, autumn Friday afternoon a woman lies in her bed desperately in need of a liver transplant. This woman is living in an unreal state of discontent and she wonders to herself how much longer she can survive in her current state. This woman has been placed on a waiting list for a liver and not unlike any other form of a waiting scenario; this one seems to be taking particularly long. It was a variation of this story that happened to AIN’s very own Matt Thurber. Matt’s stepmother was residing in Massachusetts when she was placed on a waiting list for a liver. Several months later when suddenly a liver becomes available to her, the liver was 1,700 miles away from her home. Doctors had advised her against any form of commercial airline due primarily to the high volume of germs and bacteria that traffic throughout public air carriers. Not to mention, airlines would not be remotely dependable enough for a situation as direly important as this one. There would simply be no room for errors and a public airline would certainly lack the necessary sense of urgency. This woman was just shy of frantic as she began her search to discover a safe, quick and efficient route to her desired location. It was at this point when Matt took it upon himself to make the decision for her and charter a Hawker 400 private jet and private pilot to fly the family directly to the hospital where the liver was located. Matt Thurber is a pilot himself and it is because of his well-developed knowledge for general aviation that he was able to quickly think on his feet and develop this solution for his family. Without the charter industry, Matt’s Stepmother may not have made it to the hospital in time; be that as it may, Matt was indeed able to successfully get her to safety.
Mr. Matt Thurber has been piloting since 1976, when he was first certified to fly in a Piper Cherokee 140 single engine aircraft. His father owned and maintained a small flight school out of Plymouth, Massachusetts and had unknowingly become a sensation in the eyes of young Matt. After high school, Matt continued on to attend school at East Coast Aero Tech where he graduated with a license to maintain and work on aircraft mechanically. From there he was able to get a job as a line man at a local airport where he traded work for hours in the sky, continuing with his pilot training and developing an engrossing passion for flight. Eventually Matt acquired his instrument ratings as well as his commercial license and he became a certified flight instructor. Matt was also able to attain a bachelor’s degree of Science and Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
One afternoon Matt was sitting in his father’s flight school when he found himself bored and out of work due to the exceptionally foggy weather. As he sat, he pondered; as he gathered his thoughts, he reached for his father’s typewriter and began typing. Without any attempt at all Matt had just written his very first article. Slowly this article developed into a “how to” article providing information for airplane owners regarding how they could maintain their aircraft in the comfort of their own hangars. As Matt reviewed what he had just written he was excited to realize that it was actually written quite well. He was eager to share his work, so without hesitation he submitted his new article to a well-known magazine entitled Air Progress. Needless to say, Air Progress absolutely loved his work. The magazine purchased Matt’s article immediately and it was quickly published and written in. Matt’s natural-born writing skills were an overnight success and thanks to Air Progress Matt was able to begin his career as a published author. Today, Mr. Thurber resides in Los Angles California where he writes articles for AIN Publications and holds the prestigious title of senior Editor. Now, as of NBAA 2012, he is also an award winning author.
At this year’s annual National Business Aircraft Association conference, held in Orlando, Florida, Matt Thurber was recognized as the winner of the Gold Wing Award. The award recognizes Thurber's article, "Saving Lives, One Flight at a Time" which appeared in Business Jet Traveler's August/September 2011 issue. The article was of course, was originally inspired by Matt’s stepmother and it was intended to inform readers of the importance of general aviation and specifically the charter industry to those in dire need of a replacement organ. The story focused on the key role that chartered aircraft and their operators play in the delivery of these human organs. The world moves very quickly and without general aviation it would be virtually impossible to get an ill family member to a hospital across the country in time for an organ transplant. According to Matt’s 2011 article, livers typically have a 12 hour window of time once they have been removed from the original donor. Pilots, nurses, and doctors are pressured to move just as quickly and efficiently as possible at this point as they are holding lives in their hands with each passing day.
In conclusion, the aviation industry could use more people like Matt Thurber. Mr. Thurber’s award winning article truly is inspirational and not to mention admirable. It clearly shows Matt’s true commitment towards the aviation industry and all that it has to offer. Promoting what you love seems to be a quick way to find happiness in all that life brings your way. The aviation industry is seemingly becoming scarcer and we rarely find people who work their hardest every single day at the development of the field. I believe that Matt Thurber is truly an inspiration and we could all use just a little bit more Matt Thurber mentality throughout our lives. Hats off and Cheers to Matt Thurber and his award winning article, we sure do appreciate all that you do sir!