July 21, 2009
By Jill W. Tallman
Photo Credit: Fly4Life
Are you a pilot who tries to help other people through your flying? Do you participate in medical transports, pet rescues, or search-and-rescue missions? Have you wanted to enhance your personal flying by getting involved in humanitarian efforts?
The weeklong “Fly4Life” program at AirVenture 2009 will highlight public-benefit aviation and mission-based flight operations. EAA organized the event in partnership the Air Care Alliance and the International Association of Missionary Aviation, among others, that represent more than 200 organizations.
The week’s activities include a central display on AeroShell Square, forums and presentations throughout AirVenture, plus static displays of aircraft flown for charitable purposes. Fly4Life marks the first time that humanitarian organizations will come together to highlight the ways in which general aviation serves people around the world.
Tens of thousands of volunteer pilots, ground volunteers, and other individuals work together to serve their communities using public benefit aviation. You’ve most likely read accounts of pilots and others who transport patients for medical requirements or deliver precious cargo such as blood, organ, and tissue, or conduct animal rescue flights.
Humanitarian pilots also respond to natural disasters by transporting relief personnel and cargo and participating in search-and-rescue operations. They serve military personnel and their families, and they participate in environmental/conservation flights as well as carry young aviators aloft for educational flights.
While at AirVenture, this is your opportunity to learn all about humanitarian flying activities. The main exhibit on AeroShell Square will have on display a rare Klemm L25 from Australia, the oldest known mission aircraft still flying, as well as a prototype for a combination powered parachute/dune buggy designed for mission jungle work.
On Monday evening, July 27, stop by EAA’s Theater in the Woods to see a “hangar talk” program hosted by former CNN correspondent Miles O’Brien. Scheduled to appear are Veteran’s Airlift Command founder/chairman Walt Fricke, and Steve Saint, aviation missionary and author of End of the Spear, among others.
The highly visible AirVenture, with its hundreds of thousands of visitors, is an excellent showcase for humanitarian flying. AOPA supports public benefit aviation because it is one more way in which general aviation serves America. In fact, the GA Serves America campaign is providing two flat-screen TVs for the Fly4Life display that will screen video clips of news stories about volunteer pilots.
“AOPA is proud to support this great addition to the Fly4Life exhibit,” said Andrew Broom, AOPA vice president of communications. “It’s a terrific way to recognize these organizations’ efforts while informing attendees about humanitarian aviation.”
If you aren’t able to visit AirVenture, go to the Web site to see how you can get involved in humanitarian aviation. Nonpilots can help by recruiting pilots, fundraising, providing office support, and many other duties.
Humanitarian Mission Flying,
Pilot Skip Gibbs regularly uses his Bonanza A36 to bring medical volunteers and supplies to remote areas of Mexico. Just before sunset, Gibbs was flying to the historic city of El Fuerte in the state of Sinaloa where LIGA International Flying Doctors of Mercy has been doing good works since 1934.
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