Former Reporter-Telegram writer Charlie Spence flies with Pilots N Paws to enhance animals’ lives

A number of phrases beginning with the letter “p” describe Charles “Charlie” Spence. The previous longtime writer of this newspaper is an skilled pilot, pet protector and pickup truck driver. He is additionally full of character.

A canine lover from the age of 5, Charlie has rescued pups from Midland Christian Faculty space at the very best of his granddaughter, in addition to strays hanging round native companies on the loop. He nonetheless takes extraordinary care of his late spouse’s registered shitzu, Daisy Mae, who had unsuccessful imaginative and prescient surgical procedure in Fort Value in the course of the pandemic and is now completely blind.


For the previous 12 years, one group has harnessed all of his favourite issues. Pilots N Paws is a nonprofit pairing volunteers all through the nation concerned in rescuing and rehoming animals with a number of thousand volunteer pilots with planes keen to move them. Charlie says our space has lengthy had an issue with too many canines and cats, as evidenced by new, bigger animal shelters in each Midland and Odessa and the recognition of teams like Midland Humane Coalition, the place he served on the board for years.

Every pilot concerned in Pilots N Paws schedules a leg of canines’ and/or cats’ journeys. Charlie typically flies to Borger and Dumas in addition to to Las Cruces and El Paso. Pilots designate the variety of miles they’re keen to undertake (in his case 300 every manner). Ordinarily, he leaves at dawn and returns by lunchtime, particularly in scorching climate. Pilots N Paws makes use of govt airports and rural ones for the transfers. When he flies close to the Dallas-Fort Value space, he lands in Mineral Wells. Louisiana is the farthest leg that he is flown with animals up to now. He estimates there are a couple of half dozen personal pilots in Midland-Odessa who take part.

Charlie’s four-seater 1971 Bonanza V35B can maintain as much as 15 critters so long as many are kittens in a single crate. He has typically flown only one canine and was lately contacted about taking a 9-pound pup someplace which prompted him to buy a tiny crate.

He recollects flying a white shepherd in an enormous wire crate behind his airplane to Dumas about three years in the past. It was a skinny canine, possibly 45 kilos, however simply after takeoff it felt big because it escaped the crate, scrabbled up subsequent to him, and drew blood scratching his arm. He managed to safe her within the co-pilot seat the place she contentedly gazed out the window for the remainder of the flight.

One would assume the racket raised by a number of barking canines and meowing cats have to be distracting to pilots, however Charlie says the canines fall asleep, with out tranquilizers, as he taxies, and the cats aren’t bothered.

“I imagine that whenever you’re taking canines to new properties, they sense that,” he says. “You’ll be able to nearly see them smile.”

Earlier than he flew animals, he flew gliders southwest of city and carried out acrobatics in a particular airplane which he has since offered.

In his earlier life, he frolicked within the Air Drive after marrying his highschool sweetheart Ruth. He labored as a “printer’s satan,” a younger apprentice who fetched scorching sort to ensure advertisements had been prepared. (Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain additionally labored as printer’s devils).

He was employed at Hearst newspapers in Carbondale, Illinois, and Dangerous Axe, Michigan. Over time, he discovered the manufacturing and enterprise facets of the newspaper business and, after three years in Midland, Michigan, was promoted to writer of The Midland Reporter-Telegram in 1985. He was the general public face of this newspaper for 23 years and says, “After I hit the bottom working right here, I beloved each minute of it.”

After retirement in 2008, Charlie volunteered for some time as a carpenter and group chief for Habitat for Humanity. He additionally bought a 1966 crimson Chevy pickup from former district lawyer Teresa Clingman which he drives in temperate climate because it has no air con.

His daughter Pamela is a graduate of Midland Faculty’s Doctor Assistant program and has her personal observe on the town. His two grandchildren are grown, and now he is left together with his four-legged children. “I really like all of them,” he declares.

On the finish of the day, Charlie Spence has earned numerous reward, one other phrase beginning with “p,” for serving to enhance the lives of others.