Founder/Executive Director/Chief Pilot aka “Top Dog”
Michael Schneider started Pilots To The Rescue back in 2015 to combine his love of aviation and saving animals. Michael is a commercial, instrument-rated pilot with more than 1,200 hours. When Michael isn’t flying, he enjoys spending time with his wife, 4 boys under 7 years of age, and his 80 lb. rescue dog. Michael currently resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and flies out of Essex County Airport (KCDW) in Caldwell, NJ.
Cheryl is a passionate animal rights activist and marketing guru. She graduated with honors from Binghamton University in 2007 and started her firm Tools For Talent, Inc. Cheryl’s team has helped PTTR spread awareness about overcrowding in shelters while building an engaged online community and volunteer database.
Cheryl cares deeply about the non-profit work we do at PTTR. Her blog VeginnerCooking.com has a similar mission, to save as many animals as possible.
Amy was a meeting planner at an association management company where she worked with multiple trade, professional and medical associations to plan and execute meetings, conferences and conventions. Once she met her husband and got married, they moved from the mountains to the beach where she became a stay-at-home mom to her two daughters. Now that the girls are older and in school full time, she is ready to put her planning skills back into action as she coordinates all of our missions! In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family cruising the intercoastal waterway on their boat, hanging out at the beach with her family and friends or watching her girls ride horses, which is their current sport and passion.
From New York City Brian began a career in the creative arts early in the 1990s as a theatrical and nightclub lighting designer. He is the founder and chief designer at BOLD, a New York and Los Angeles architectural lighting design firm. He’s also currently helping his husband start a unique pillow business. Given the opportunity, Brian will stop to say hello to every dog he sees. He grew up with two German Shepherds named Zeus and Thor. One was a rescue the other was found on the street. One of his dogs, Noodle, had epilepsy and eventually passed away from cancer. “The decision to take care of a pet should never be dependent on money” he says. He offers pet insurance to his employees and many friends. Brian has flown gliders, biplanes, power gliders, hang gliders and many single engine propeller planes. He currently owns a Cirrus. Brian was one of the earliest volunteers and donors to Pilots To The Rescue. He lives with his husband and his two Brussels Griffons Bodhi and Doozer.
Scott Rickles started in advertising sales straight out of college from Florida State University in 1978. He moved to Atlanta and began working in his father’s advertising rep firm Ray Rickles & Company which was established in Florida in 1952. Scott took over the family business when his father retired in 1988 and still loves advertising and marketing to this day. He joined Michael in Hospitality in 2006 and they still work together on a number of projects planned for 2021. Scott grew up with dogs and cats in the family while helping to raise 5 boys with his loving wife Tracy-Leigh.
Daniel joined Pilots To The Rescue in early 2019 after looking for a way to get involved in animal rescue flights. He came across PTTR and the rest is history! Growing up, his family adopted 3 dogs from various shelters on Long island here in New York. When Daniel isn’t on rescues, he enjoys spending time with family, friends, and his family’s adopted pup. He has been flying as a private pilot for 9 years with 300+ hours.
Ann joins our board with over 40 years as a professional fundraiser encompassing capital campaigns, major gifts, planned giving, alumni relations and special events. Her professional experience includes positions at a Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago where she was Director of Special Events, while overseeing the physicians alumni association. Ann moved to Albany to assume the position ofDirector of Alumni Relations at The University of Albany. She subsequently moved to Long Island where she was appointed Director of Alumni Relations and Major Gifts at Stony Brook University. Continuing her higher education experience, she was appointed Associate Vice President of a Development at Nassau Community College, developing a fundraising board, creating a major gifts program and overseeing the 50th anniversary of the college which encompassed the development of a major gifts outreach and capital campaign.
Ann and her husband Gerrit will be calling Daniel Island home this year. She is excited about joining the board and looks forward to using her extensive experience to bring new revenue to Charleston Stage.
Michaella Abugov was born on the North Shore of Massachusetts and grew up surrounded by animals at home and at the horse barn where she spent much of her time. Her love of animals defined her youth and made it easy to focus her energy on becoming a veterinarian. After a volunteer mission at an animal shelter in Belize, Michaella flew a stray dog back to the US with her. This dog is now her best friend! And this special trip inspired Michaella to get involved in animal transport as a way to help animals find safe and loving homes. After graduating from Tufts Veterinary school in 2019, Michaella started flight training and became a pilot. She now uses both her veterinary degree and pilot license to help pets all over the world.
Mindy Lindheim of Orlando, Florida is a professional aviator and avid animal lover. Growing up on a small farm, Mindy became attached to animals of all shapes and sizes from a young age. Once she graduated Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and obtained flight ratings such as her commercial license, flight instructor licenses, multi-engine and even Citation jet type rating, she started her career flying and selling airplanes. In 2021, Mindy learned that she could mix her two biggest passions with Pilots to the Rescue: Aviation & Animals. After her first mission with PTTR, she has been hooked on saving animals with airplanes and has been a part of the team ever since.
My name is Bruno, and I'm a Private Pilot with Instrument Rating based in New Jersey. I own a ’77 Grumman AA5A Cheetah purchased in 2020, which I take on new adventures every weekend. Since I started my Aviation journey in 2019, I’ve been sharing my experiences, learnings and adventures in social media (Instagram and YouTube), and I made it a daily commitment to share this passion with thousands of others. Despite having a 9-5 job in Advertising, in 2022 I was able to log over 170 hours and close to 2000 miles up and down the East Coast, plus my first flight to Oshkosh for the EAA Airventure. I can’t wait to up these numbers in 2023!
Mike Martins is a CFI, CFII, and MEI working on his dream of becoming an airline pilot. He was born and raised in Newark, NJ watching planes fly over his head since he was little. Mike is a lover of all animals with a strong passion for dogs. Upon completing his studies in aviation, he was introduced to this fantastic organization, and could not be any happier. Since then, Mike has helped rescue countless souls with one of his proudest missions was transporting an endangered Mexican Grey Wolf!
Vikingur Thorsteinsson is a CFI, CFII, and MEI currently working towards becoming an airline pilot. He grew up in New Jersey, and has been an avid animal, and aviation lover since he could walk. Vikingur discovered Pilots To The Rescue at the beginning of his aviation career, and couldn’t believe there was a way to combine his two favorite things into one. When Vikingur isn’t flying missions for PTTR, it's because he’s gotten himself behind the yoke of something else that burns gas and has a propeller.
Kyle Morrison went to ATP Flight school in Morristown, NJ where he received all his ratings including CFI CFII and MEI. Kyle is currently flight instructing until he begins his career flying the Airbus A320 for Frontier Airlines. Prior to Kyle’s career as a pilot, he was a police officer for 8 years and before that played 4 seasons of professional baseball for the Washington Nationals and several Independent teams. Currently Kyle resides in Bernardsville with his wife and rescue dog Oliver from SXM Paws Animal Rescue in St. Maarten. Kyle has a true love for animals, and he is proud and honored to be a part of Pilots To The Rescue. Nothing brings him more happiness than finding animals their forever homes.
Born in Cuba, Rob kept his dreams of becoming a pilot alive even though this career path didn’t seem possible when he was younger. When he moved to the United States, it didn’t take long for him to discover ATP Flight School, the largest flight training company in the country. It was here where Rob obtained his license as a private pilot. Animals have always been part of Rob’s life as well. Growing up, his family cared for several dogs along with a flock of chickens and even some bunny rabbits. So, when the opportunity to fly for PTTR came up, Rob couldn’t be more grateful to combine his two greatest passions in life. “It feels like a milestone in my life that I’ll never forget,” he said of his experience with PTTR so far. Rob is extremely proud to be involved with PTTR and he can't wait to use his talents to save more lives in 2023 and beyond!
Mike Fello is a CFI, CFII, and MEI who took the leap from a career in teaching people outdoor survival skills to teaching them how to fly airplanes in 2020. He has provided flight instruction to students all around the country and if he’s not in the air you can probably catch him hiking in the Hudson Highlands with his rescue dog, Abel.