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Missing Oklahoma pilot described as a ‘hero’ to abandoned pets

Credit: Bill Kinsinger Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

OKLAHOMA CITY – Family and friends continue to hold out hope that an Oklahoma City doctor will be found alive following a suspected plane crash.

Family members say Dr. Bill Kinsinger left Wiley Post Airport to pick up a dog in Georgetown, Texas on Wednesday afternoon.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

The FAA confirms the Cirrus S22T plane left Wiley Post Airport and filed a flight plan to Georgetown.  However, officials say Kinsinger did not land in Georgetown, but rather continued on the same course.

When air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilot, he did not respond. The North American Aerospace Defense command launched a pair of F-16 fighters to make contact with the plane. Those pilots dropped flares and performed other military maneuvers to get the pilot’s attention, but Dr. Kinsinger appeared to be unresponsive.

Experts believe Kinsinger likely suffered from hypoxia while behind the controls.

FAA officials say the plane was last seen on radar about 219 miles northwest of Cancun at 15,000 feet and was headed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Family members say that Kinsinger began working with a pet rescue organization to honor his brother who passed away four years ago.

"Bill decided if he took up flying, he would start to do this in Tim's name, to honor Tim. So, twice a week, he picked up dogs and took them all over this part of the country," Ann Kinsinger, Bill's mother, said.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

Ann Kinsinger told KFOR that her son was "doing what he loved" when his plane disappeared from radar.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

Family and friends say they are holding out hope that Kinsinger will be found alive.

"We're praying that a miracle will happen and he will be brought back to us, so he can save a lot more lives, being four-legged and two," Vikki Smith, a friend of Kinsinger, told KFOR.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

Pilots N Paws tells KFOR that Kinsinger has been pilot with them for years, and was on his way to pick up a husky for them.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

"Bill has been flying for Pilots N Paws since July, 2014. Immediately after joining he stood out in terms of his dedication to our mission. He's an incredibly special part of our organization--always one of the first to step up and help out be it providing emergency transport, participating in a PNP flyway event, or helping us to recruit more volunteers by representing us at aviation events such as the 2017 Norman, Oklahoma Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-in.

We've long said that flying rescue animals is a labor of love for our pilots; rescuing animals is Bill's passion. He's always very upbeat and positive. Very empathetic to everyone he volunteered with encouraging us to “save some more.” He once emailed me the following: “I am having a great time with PNP.  I just signed up in mid July and I have already flown six "missions."  I Love dogs and hate that so many are mistreated or neglected.  As long as you have the need, I'll keep flying.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

"He's an incredibly active PNP pilot often flying a mission each week. He is really good at making the most of every PNP flight he flies by taking as many animals as [he] can. He made a great effort to be as efficient as possible by accommodating multiple rescue animals on each flight. There's a geographic component to animal rescue, and several transport trends have resulted based on animals being flown from areas where there's a very high homeless pet population to areas of the country where more adoptive homes are waiting. Animal rescue isn't an exception to the basic principles of supply and demand. One of the trends we've seen at Pilots N Paws is a high number of animals being flown from Texas (large # homeless animals) to Colorado (large number of available adoptive homes). Bill is based out of Oklahoma City, and he recognizes that he's able to make a huge impact saving lives since he's uniquely positioned between TX and CO.

So many of the animals flown by Pilots N Paws are escaping kill shelters often hours before they're slated to be euthanized. Rescuers work tirelessly to pull animals from the shelters and find them new homes, fosters, or receiving rescues that will commit to finding a forever home. Bill was great at coordinating transport requests, a process that usually has to unfold rather quickly. He flew a lot of senior animals and disabled animals. I remember him once telling me about a flight for a senior Lab named “Old Will” from Ft. Worth to Colorado Springs. Another time he flew a blind Lab mix from Little Rock, AR to a rescue in Denver, Colorado," the statement from Pilots N Paws continued.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

Bill is really good at rallying the troops, often seeing a post on our forum board and recruiting pilot friends to help him to complete the transport via relay. A lot of our pilots fly about 300 nautical miles each. Many of our veteran pilots have become very adept at networking together to move animals further distances. We've actually had situations where as many as a dozen pilots relayed together to move animals from coast to coast. I know Bill was a part of at least one of those cross country PNP flights. I think a lot of people involved in aviation and animal rescue can appreciate the level of coordination involved in networking dozens of pilots at relay points throughout the country. It's a really challenging task, but our pilots are generally the type that don't shy away from difficult situations. They're heroes who put themselves at the center of immediate rescue needs, and they're aware that if they can't make the flight, then many times the animal won't make it out of the shelter alive. 

Bill was so heavily involved with rescuing through Pilots N Paws that he at times fostered animals flown to Oklahoma City. In terms of PNP transport, finding foster homes during "layovers" can be make or break for a mission---especially if there's inclement weather and the mission is completed by relay. I often see pilots take the animals home with them until the weather breaks and the next pilot in the relay can safely resume transport. One time Bill recruited a friend to fly a pup named Lola from Stephenville, TX to Oklahoma City where he met them at the airport  As the rescuer described it, Bill arranged for “a sleepover at his house with a custom built log cabin doghouse.” He'd already committed to flying a PNP mission the next day, but his plane was damaged, so he ended up driving the next day to Arkansas to pick up the 7 dogs that he'd originally committed to flying. He brought those 7 back to his house and the next night he fostered all 8 (Lola and the 7 he had driven from AR)," the statement read.

Credit: Bill Kinsinger
Courtesy: Pilots N Paws

The Coast Guard says it is continuing to search for Kinsinger in the Gulf of Mexico.