Courtesy St. Louis Blues
You know David Backes, the heart of the Blues – flying across the ice delivering hard body checks. What you might not know is David Backes – the pilot.

Aviation was always an ambition of David's, one he thought wasn't unreachable. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather who flew in the Army during World War II.

“It starts with my family,” David explained. My grandfather was an Army gunner in World War II and my wife's grandfather flew four planes his whole life in general aviation. It was something that sparked my interest, but I thought it was unattainable.”

It took a push from a teammate and a Christmas gift from his wife Kelly to get David up in the air.

“When Ty Conklin got traded to the Blues, he had his own plane and pilot's license. He told me I should do it. One Christmas in 2010, my wife gave me a couple of flying lessons as a present. I was ecstatic and after that, it's been a pretty good addiction. I got my pilot's license in January 2012 and did my seaplane license in July.”

David enjoys the experience and rush being in the air and the freedom that it brings.

“It's a free feeling and an escape from everything else,” he said. “You need full concentration, but you have freedom and on top of a new mode of transportation, a way to get away from everything and clear your mind.”

He's been up in the air with the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds, which was an unreal experience for David.

Courtesy St. Louis Blues
“I was out to do it and they said yes. I flew with the Blue Angels after my first year in St. Louis, which was an awesome experience minus the nausea for a few hours afterwards. Not many people get to fly in a fighter jet, so I got to do that. I was able to go up with the Thunderbirds this year.

David continued, “They were cool experiences to see another level of skill and it gives you another level of appreciation for armed forces after you do things like that.”

Backes appreciates the sacrifice and commitment of our military servicemen, servicewomen and veterans. He's eager to give back to veterans and local charities.

“I've done some Defending The Blue Line stuff in Minnesota, playing in their charity games and I've made appearances at Wounded Warrior projects,” he said. “They're all very admirable charities. For me as an athlete, we have a platform that if we don't use that platform to give back to the community, it's a really a waste.”

He continued, “Whether it's animal stuff like my wife and I are up in our necks in, veteran's charities or kids charities – whatever it is, guys should be involved with something. Maybe my fault is that I'm over-involved, but I'd rather have it be that way than be ever accused of wasting an awesome platform that we have as athletes.”