Volunteer Pilots

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Susan Lapis

Bristol, Virginia

Susan is a 1000-plus hour instrument-rated pilot who has flown her Cessna 182 for SouthWings since 1999. She lives in Bristol, VA, with her husband Jim. They have two grown childen, Beth and John. A PhD biochemist who has worked in enzymology and cancer research, Susan has also taught various pre-med chemistry courses and still teaches in winter at the Southwestern VA Higher Education Center as a volunteer.

Susan learned to fly after she fell in love with small airplanes while riding in a Cessna float plane during a cruise in Alaska with her children in 1992. She learned about SouthWings in an interview with Harvard Ayers of Appalachian Voices on a local public radio station, and she responded enthusiastically when Hume Davenport called her to volunteer.

Susan says this about her work with SouthWings: “I love enabling the wonderful folks that fly with me to do good work for the environment. I love meeting them and in many cases, forming long term friendships. I love what I have learned about environmental issues.”

Susan loves classical music and opera, traveling with Jim, working in the yard, old houses, the beach, and a wonderful growing family.

Awarded “Distinguished Volunteer Pilot” award from the National Aeronautic Association and the Air Care Alliance in 2012 and SouthWings’ 2013 Visionary Award.

Susan no longer flies for SouthWings; however, her years of dedicated service have earned her Honorary Emeritus status.

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SouthWings’ distinguished corps of volunteer pilots fly to inform and inspire the public on impactful missions.

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