CalVet’s own Thomas Bucci was recently recognized for flying more than 1,000 young people as part of the Young Eagles Program, which seeks to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation.
For the past 15 years, Bucci has been flying youth out of Vacaville’s Nut Tree Airport, through the national Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles Program. In November, the organization notified him he had reached the milestone of flying 1,000 youth.
Here, in his own words, is what inspires him to volunteer for the program:
“I do this because I want every child to see that what they can one day accomplish is totally within their grasp with determination and hard work. I feel that every person has special gifts that are wasted if not shared.
I do this because the kids I fly come from every culture, religion, race and socio-economic background. I want them to know that I flew a number of kids just like them over the last two decades — who today are very happy, successful military and airline pilots because, hopefully, a spark was lit during their first flight!
I do this because some of the best pilots I flew with in the U.S. Air Force were women and I want them to know that this is a field where it’s talent — pure talent — that is admired, regardless of stereotypes.”
Bucci, a pilot for 41 years, started flying when he was just 15 years old. An Air Force veteran, he flew 120 missions as a navigator. He logged more than 2,500 hours as the lead navigator in the RC135 in the Strategic Air Command.
During eight years on active duty, Bucci was stationed at Mather AFB and Castle AFB in Merced, and was a member of a USAF team that consisted of both the famed SR71 and the U2 squadrons. He rose to the evaluator level in a wing of 500 officers at Offut AFB, where he ensured that flight standards of the highest level were practiced by aircrews flying worldwide reconnaissance missions 24/7/365.
At CalVet, Bucci serves as director of Long Term Care and Clinical Services for the Homes Division, where he is responsible for overseeing the quality of care delivered to 2,300 veterans in CalVet’s eight Veterans Homes.
He’s featured in a great article in the Vacaville Reporter. Check it out here.