Lightspeed Aviation Foundation, the charitable arm of the popular headset manufacturer of the same name, has announced this year’s 20 finalists eligible for grants from the company. Pilots can vote for their favorite charity or designate part of their headset purchase to go toward a specific aviation nonprofit.
This year’s finalists vying for a spot in the top five in order to receive a $10,000 grant are Air Charity Network, Angel Flight East, Angel Flight Soars, the AOPA Foundation, Aviation Career Enrichment, Bahamas Habitat, Build A Plane, the Civil Air Patrol, EAA Chapter 44, EAA Chapter 106, Hope Air, JAARS, Liga International-The Flying Doctors of Mercy, Mission Aviation Fellowship, The Ninety-Nines, Planes of Fame Air Museum, the Recreational Aviation Foundation, Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, Wings of Hope, and Youth Aviation Adventure.
“We’re more excited than ever about the impact we can make together to grow the aviation community,” said Lightspeed Aviation President Allan Schrader in a news release. “Organizations like AOPA and EAA have allowed us to join with them in reaching out to bless other organizations that are doing ‘Good’ in the aviation community. It’s certainly our sincere hope that pilots, aviation enthusiasts, for-profit and non-profit organizations will join in the efforts to grow aviation and make a positive impact on our world.”
At a festive press conference attended by representatives of many of this year's finalists, Schrader said the foundation received more than 900 nominations and more than 70 complete grant applications. The finalists must work in one of three areas—pilot growth, GA awareness, or compassionate service to others—he said.
"You're really pointing us towards the groups that are doing the good things," said AOPA President Craig Fuller.
Experimental Aircraft Association President Rod Hightower also praised the foundation's mission: "What you've done and created is what we love. When you engage people in aviation there's a trickle-down effect."
According to Lightspeed, the foundation has awarded almost $250,000 in the two years since it began providing grants to aviation charities.
The AOPA Foundation received $12,000 in 2011 and $10,000 in 2010 thanks to Lightspeed customers who designated part of their headset purchase for the foundation.
"We are honored that the AOPA Foundation's charitable work has been recognized by the Lightspeed Foundation and by Lightspeed customers," said AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller. "We believe strongly that the AOPA Foundation's efforts to promote safety, protect airports, grow the pilot population, and improve the image of general aviation benefit the entire GA community, and it's rewarding to see those efforts acknowledged in this way."
There are two ways pilots can vote. Participate in the Pilot’s Choice Awards by voting on the Lightspeed Foundation’s website; and participate in the Customer Choice Awards when registering a new pair of Lightspeed headsets. The top five Pilot’s Choice charities will receive $10,000; top five Customer Choice groups will receive $5,000 each; every finalist will receive $1,000.