Nashville-based helicopter pilot Joel Boyers had just finished helping his fiancée earn her pilot’s license recently and they were headed home to celebrate, when he received a frantic call from a woman in Pennsylvania. Her brother’s home in Waverly, Tennessee, was underwater and he was trapped on a roof with his daughters. Could Boyers help? He could and he did. In conditions that state police and the National Guard would not come out in, he rescued 17 people. To perform the rescues, Boyers had to maneuver around power lines, balance his skids on sloped rooftops, and hover over floodwaters. It took all the skills learned over 16 years of flying. While he’s proud of what he did, he said he’s the one who should be thanking the people he rescued. “I literally prayed just days before this that God give me some meaning in my life, and then I ended up getting this call,” Boyers said.

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