Volunteer Pilots

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Andy Meranda

Nebo, North Carolina

Andy Meranda is a 2300+ hour Commercial pilot with Single Engine Land, Single Engine Sea and Instrument ratings as well as Private Pilot Multi-Engine and Rotorcraft/Helicopter ratings, high performance, complex and tailwheel endorsements. Andy started flying in 1989 and has over 25 years experience as a pilot. He has flight experience in a wide variety of aircraft such as: Maule MX-7-180, Piper PA-18 Super Cub, Cessna A185F Skywagon, Cessna 180 amphibian, de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver amphibian, Taylorcraft BC-12D float plane, Piper PJ3 float plane, Piper J3 Cub, American Champion Super Decathlon, Citabria Aurora, Cessna 182, Cessna 172, Cessna 172RG, Beechcraft 76 Duchess, Diamond DA20 Katana, Piper PA-28 Warrior II, Cessna 152, Robinson R-22 helicopter, Robinson R-44 helicopter, Bell UH-1H “Huey” helicopter and Eurocopter AS350 AStar helicopter.

Andy has worked for the North Carolina Forest Service as a pilot flying forest fires since 2012 in a Cessna A185F. In July 2012 Andy took a week-long course in mountain/canyon flying with McCall Mountain Canyon Flying Seminars in McCall Idaho in a Super Cub. While there he learned to fly in the wild, beautiful canyons and tall mountains of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. For the last 18 years Andy has owned a 1986 Maule MX-7-180 taildragger “bush plane” in which he has 1,400+ hours as Pilot-In-Command. Maule Flight completely rebuilt his airplane in 2010. In August 2016 he flew his Maule over 2,000 miles back to McCall and spent a week getting mountain/canyon refresher training in the Idaho back country. His aircraft is based at Hickory Regional Airport  (KHKY) in Hickory, NC beside the hangar in which he works.

Before retiring in 2006 Andy spent 34 years in information technology including 11 years as a program manager with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Avineon, and 23 years with the Internal Revenue Service as a projects director, program manager, project manager and communications specialist. Andy served in the United States Air Force on active duty from 1966 to 1970 as a ground radio repairman and he has extensive experience in electronics, radio communications and computers.

Andy is a native of Miami Florida where he graduated from high school in 1963. He attended Georgetown University in Washington, DC studying international economics as well as George Washington University in Washington DC where he earned a bachelor of science in applied mathematics. Andy attended George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia where he earned a Master of Science in Software Systems Engineering. Andy is married to Cindy Meranda, his wife of 40+ years, and has three daughters aged 45, 37 and 33. Andy and Cindy retired and moved from Northern Virginia to Lake James, North Carolina because of their love of Western North Carolina’s beauty and their fond memories of summer camp and college. They have traveled in their airplane throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast as far North as Bar Harbor, Maine and as far South as Tampa, Florida. Andy’s recent Idaho trip is the longest flight that he has made in his own airplane and took five days each way, including weather delays.

Flying, guitar, electronics, computers, hiking, boating and bicycling are some of Andy’s interests. He was drawn to SouthWings by his love of flying and love of the natural beauty of the Western North Carolina mountains.

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