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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pilot offers ash-scattering services across New England

When Bill Dino’s mother passed away last year, he knew he had to respect her last wish by having her ashes scattered by air.

Dino, who owns and runs Take Wing Air in Nashua, took his sister with him in his airplane and, together, they scattered his mother’s ashes and fulfilled one of her last wishes. Dino said he and his sister felt that this event was a catharsis of some sort, a helpful way to say goodbye to a beloved family member, and they wondered whether other people would want a similar experience. ...

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When Bill Dino’s mother passed away last year, he knew he had to respect her last wish by having her ashes scattered by air.

Dino, who owns and runs Take Wing Air in Nashua, took his sister with him in his airplane and, together, they scattered his mother’s ashes and fulfilled one of her last wishes. Dino said he and his sister felt that this event was a catharsis of some sort, a helpful way to say goodbye to a beloved family member, and they wondered whether other people would want a similar experience.

“There’s got to be other people who want to do this,” Dino remembers thinking. And so, with a lot of determination and a little bit of luck, Dino began Take Wing Air, a service that enables family members to have their deceased’s ashes scattered by air over a selection of locations.

“It’s a really personal thing … There are places where family has some history,” Dino said of scattering ashes. Take Wing Air flies over different landmarks in the Northeast, such as the Long Island Sound, Martha’s Vineyard, Old Orchard Beach and the White Mountains. Dino makes sure the areas over which he sprinkles the ashes are unpopulated. Although Dino has had to make sure his operation follows the proper regulations, he said the process hasn’t been too onerous.

“A whole bunch of things just sort of lucked out,” Dino said.

Scattering ashes from air is allowed under the Federal Aviation Administration regulations. Dino said these regulations mandate that pilots cannot drop anything from their plane if it poses a hazard to people or places below.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency has specific regulations regarding the dispersal of ashes over water. These regulations say ashes can only be dispersed in bodies of water a minimum of 3 miles from land.

Dino also adds that if a family wants ashes to be scattered over private property or over a state park, he would have to get permission from the landowners before doing so.

When Dino was first considering starting Take Wing Air, he had to take all these regulations into consideration and more. When he was first creating his ash dispersal service, Dino did a lot of research on the most dignified way to release ashes from an airplane.

He didn’t like the idea of just dumping a baggie of ashes out the window as, he said, the ashes could get trapped in a slipstream and end up covering the plane or even getting sucked back inside the cockpit.

So, with a little bit of help, he devised a simple, clean and dignified way to disperse ashes from the air.

Dino’s Baron aircraft has a pre-engineered hole in its belly. This made it easy for Dino to add a scoop in the bottom of the plane with which to sprinkle ashes mid-flight. A vent in the body of the plane helps propel the ashes downward and outward over the specified location.

Although FAA regulations do not allow family members in the plane at the time of the dispersal, Dino has found a way to include the family in this extremely personal event.

Dino said he uses a GPS app, available on all Apple products, that tracks the course of a flight and drops markers on the virtual map when certain ashes are dropped over their proper locations.

For customers who do not have the app or have access to an Apple product, all customers of Take Wing Air are given a certificate of the scattering that identifies the time, longitude and latitude of the ash dispersal.

Dino’s ash scattering services cost $295, and he said he has been told by former customers that it’s a “great price.”

However, Dino is much more interested in the closure he is providing to families who have lost loved ones.

Much like he and his sister felt a sense of closure when they scattered his mother’s ashes, Dino hopes to provide a sense of release to grieving families.

For more information, visit www.takewingair.com/index.html.

Emily Kwesell can be reached at 594-6466 or ekwesell@nashua
telegraph.com.