Andrew Baird ’07 takes to the air to help with transplants and other medical emergencies.
By David Menconi
It’s common enough for college students to work their way through school, but not the way Andrew Baird ’07 did while studying business at the Poole College of Management. A native of Raleigh, he’d grown up flying airplanes — in fact, the first mode of transportation he bought as a teenager was a small plane rather than a car. He also had an interest in medicine, earning credentials as an emergency medical technician. So he did both during college.
“I’d fly circles around the Beltline mornings and afternoons doing traffic accident reports for radio stations,” he says. “I’d go to class after the morning report, then do a 12-hour night shift at the emergency medical services station.”
All those threads came together after graduation when Baird formed Vector AeroMedical, which handles air and ground transport for medical procedures. Over the past decade, Baird has logged more than a million miles in the air while flying more than 700 transplant cases. Sometimes that involves flying patients to distant hospitals for highly specialized procedures, sometimes it involves transporting donated organs. There are times when it involves both.
“You can wake up in the morning and not know you’ll end up in Chattanooga, Tenn., in a couple of hours.”
– Andrew Baird ’07
“There was an 8-year-old child in Pittsburgh and an organ match from Orlando,” says Baird, 38. The company flew the child and organ to the Triangle and provided “quick-response transportation” on the ground. “We touched literally every piece of it.”
Vector operates primarily out of Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford, N.C., and flies all over the country and beyond. Getting through the pandemic required some adjustment, so the company started a ground-transportation division. But Vector’s planes are back in the air now, with Baird still doing a lot of the piloting.
“I need to do less of it, but it’s just so darn fun,” he says. “I’m continually told I need to be in the office more. At any time, there are a million things going on. But that’s the cool part of doing what we do. You can wake up in the morning and not know you’ll end up in Chattanooga, Tenn., in a couple of hours.”