October 17, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
An anonymous donor has given an Eclipse jet to the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) for use delivering wounded veterans where they need to go for crucial medical care, accompanied by members of their families.
Eclipse Aerospace has committed to restore the aircraft to service and make it available to the VAC, which VAC Founder Walt Fricke said, “is further proof that the aviation community is made up of great Americans whose generosity knows no bounds. This aircraft will supplement the work of some 1,800 volunteer aircraft owners and pilots in support of our mission.”
The VAC provides free air transportation to post-Sept. 11 combat-wounded veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes, through a network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. It announced the donation at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Las Vegas on Oct. 11.
Eclipse will match donations made for servicing the aircraft “with one dollar of donated parts and services for every one dollar donated to the VAC through a capital campaign” launched at the NBAA event, the company said.
Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, honorary chairman of VAC’s national advisory board, described the VAC’s work as a godsend. “As a wounded war veteran, I know firsthand how important the support of your family is in your recovery,” he said.
“This is yet another example of the generosity of the private aviation community,” added Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Eclipse CEO and Chairman Mason Holland and David Green, president of the Eclipse 500 Owners Club, said that Eclipse type-rated pilots would donate their services to fly VAC missions.
Eclipse Aerospace manufactures the Eclipse 550 twin-engine jet and provides engineering, maintenance, service, and support for the fleet of 260 Eclipse 500 jets. Its corporate offices are in Charleston, S.C., with principal operations in Albuquerque, N.M. and Chicago, Ill.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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