Angel Flight West Event Features Volunteer Pilot, Astrophysicist Brian Keating

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Angel Flight West attracts aviation enthusiasts to San Diego Air and Space Museum event where AFW volunteer pilot and University of California San Diego professor of astrophysics, Brian G. Keating, PhD, describes and depicts first moments after Big Bang gleaned from South Pole microwave telescopes.

Angel Flight West command pilot and UCSD astrophysicist, Brian G. Keating, PhD

"We always need more volunteer pilots. With more pilots, we can help more people." AFW Executive Director, Alan Dias

Angel Flight West (AFW)—a volunteer-pilot, nonprofit organization that arranges free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and other compelling needs—drew 75 pilots and other aviation enthusiasts to a reception at the San Diego Air and Space Museum on February 26. Attendees came from Imperial, Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties to visit the beginning of time with one of Angel Flight West’s own, volunteer command pilot Brian G. Keating, PhD.

Professor Keating, an astrophysicist with UCSD’s department of physics and Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, clearly and humorously spoke of his research: looking back into deepest space to understand what happened immediately following the Big Bang.

Dr. Keating's presentation lived up to its title: “Extreme Astronomy (and Aviation)--Flying to the Ends of the Earth to Glimpse the Beginning of Time. He captivated this crowd of pilots and flight fans through humorous accounts and photos of enduring a 30-hour cargo plane flight; of landing on ice at 9,000 feet above sea level; and of building a multi-ton telescope installation at the South Pole in gale-force winds known to tear flesh where average temperatures range between -40 and -118 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dr. Keating and his team of students and engineers have developed and installed at the South Pole sensitive microwave telescopes, to uncover with “exquisite precision” how the universe began and what happened right after the Big Bang.

The UCSD-based team is studying the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a radiation field formed about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. The CMB is the cooled remnant of the hot big bang that fills the entire universe. Although this "first light" cannot be seen with the naked eye, it can be observed at a about -455 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dr. Keating said they use microwaves, which can travel through most obstacles, because “If nothing blocks our view, we can see further back than if something like a star or planet blocks it,” He added, “These [microwave telescopes] look back as far as there has existed light in the universe, back to the Big Bang 13.72 billion years ago.”

Angel Flight West is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that arranges free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions and other compelling needs. Dr. Brian Keating is one of approximately 1,200 volunteer pilots throughout the 13 western states who donate their aircraft, piloting skills and all flying costs to help those in need receive vital treatment that might be otherwise inaccessible because of financial, medical or geographic limitations.

Angel Flight West counts among its pilot and 200 non-pilot volunteers astrophysicists and police officers, engineers and doctors, homemakers and CEO’s, retired pilots and retired people of all occupations and lifestyles. "We always need more volunteer pilots," said AFW Executive Director, Alan Dias. "With more pilots, we can help more people."

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Alan Dias, Executive Director
Angel Flight West
1-888-426-2643 111
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Cheri Cimmarrusti
Angel Flight West
1-888-426-2643 105
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