Jonathan Plesset is the President/CEO of Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel. Jonathan began flying in 2002 along with his friend Brad Childs. In 2009 he teamed up with Brad to be a part of The Georgia Puppy Caravan. The two raised 50,000 pounds of food and flew down to rescue 200 plus dogs. After the experience Jonathan was hooked and animal rescue became his passion. In 2012 Jonathan and Brad founded the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team. Jonathan is the resident gadget geek and keeps the staff updated with the latest technology.
The PAART team is made up of a diverse staff of passionate animal lovers that have dedicated their time and energy to our core belief of leaving No Dog Left Behind.
Brad Childs is the Executive Vice President of Eyetique. Brad started flying in 2002. In 2006 Brad got his first taste of rescue flying. The experience transformed him and he recognized that there was a need for more pilots to become involved in these kinds of rescue missions. Brad along with his friend Jonathan became very active in the rescue community and their passion for these rescue flights lead to the creation of a charity. In 2012 Brad became a co-founder of Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team.
Megan Plesset is the Treasurer of the Board and wife of PAART co-founder Jonathan Plesset. Mrs. Plesset’s began her work with PAART in 2012 and has been serving on the board since the beginning. Megan is an avid cat lover and has helped the team rescue hundreds of her feline friends. Megan brings the lessons she has learned during her tenure in corporate America to the organization.
Linda Childs was our first mission coordinator and one of the founding members of the team. In 2012 she was elected to the Board of Directors and has been an active member on various committees within the organization. Her love for animals and her desire to help bring a voice to their issues is a key motivating factor in her love of PAART.
Jan has been with the PAART family for the past few years. She came on board as a Landpilot and Fundraiser before joining the PAART Board of Directors in 2017. Jan is a passionate animal lover who works tirelessly to champion their causes.
Don is a 48 year member of the IBEW having served most recently as International Vice President for 15 years. Upon retiring in June of 2017 he was afforded the time to devote to his passion for rescue in the animal world. In the early 90’s Don and his wife began adopting and rescuing cats and thus began a commitment to animal rescue. Since then he and his wife have adopted and cared for 13 cats and most recently an 11 year old Aussie/Shep female who had been kept outside for over a year. When Don heard about the work and mission of PAART it seemed like a natural fit and decided to attend an orientation where he learned about the important role that PAART plays in animal rescue. He has since joined in several missions and encourages others who love animals to join the team.
Mary Kennedy Withrow is no stranger to the world of animal rescue. Mary has worked all over the country on cruelty cases, natural disasters, dogfighting and has worked in our area shelters for many years. Mary has led the charge both locally and statewide in effecting change through legislation and advocacy to better protect our animals. A member of the PA Dept of Agriculture’s Dog Law Advisory Board, trainer, self-proclaimed “dog body language geek” Mary works to train our volunteers so they can be the best and works to promote the health and wellness of all dogs being brought into our state as well as those that already call Pennsylvania “home.”
For well over a decade now Rachel has been involved in animal rescue and welfare. Starting as a volunteer helping victims of dogfighting, she then earned her degree in Veterinary Technology after realizing there was a dire need for volunteers with medical training. She went on to work at local shelters as a vet tech, doing behavior work, training and helping some of the neediest of our four legged friends. Rachel brings with her a wealth of experience and pours her heart into every mission; helping animals is truly her calling. As the Operations Manager she works with the volunteers, organizes teams, creates run sheets, outfits the vehicles and plane, and more. Rachel’s family adores animals and they share their home with 4 wonderful rescue dogs, 2 fuzzy tarantulas and sometimes a needy foster.
Our Chief Pilot, Lawrence “Pete” Lehmann, is a record holding pilot who holds a CFI, CFI-G, MEI, and Commercial rating. In 2002, Pete set a world record for the longest hang glider flight to a declared goal when he flew this Wills Wing Talon 150 a distance of 516.2 km (321 miles) from Zapata, Texas, to Big Lake, Texas. Lehmann’s 9-hour goal flight, which he had to declare before taking off, exceeded the previous record by 16.1 km (10 miles). He reached a maximum altitude of 2,736 m (9,000 ft) above sea level.
Jeff Bonasso has been a PAART pilot since the fall of 2013. Jeff is an accomplished software programmer and designer who wrote a very popular pilot app for Android and iOS. Jeff has flown missions for us in his Cessna 182 and has had his hand in saving the lives of countless animals.
Tom is a very experienced pilot with thousands of hours of flight time under his belt. He brings to the team a vast knowledge of aircrafts, airplane operations and flight planning. With his gentle personality, friendly demeanor, and love of animals Tom is a wonderful asset to the team.
Patrick is our Assistant (to the) Chief Pilot, and has been flying since he was 13 years old. He’s an Apple Certified Mac Technician by day, and a Flight Instructor and PAART pilot in his free time. He adopted his Beagle, Zoe, after his second PAART flight.
Proud of 40 years in education, proud of my wonderful grandson and proud to be a “Part of PAART!”
The need to ensure that our operation works with reputable rescues and shelters is paramount to our non-profit. PAART receives a lot of requests for help and we make sure each mission is carefully vetted before we take anything on. When PAART needs to investigate, we turn to Frannie. Frannie is our official investigator. When a new shelter makes a request Frannie does the research to make sure they are in good standing. If a rescue doesn’t pass her inspection we won’t work with that shelter. Its a vital role for PAART and helps keep us in good standing.