Time on your hands allows reflection, and so we were able to pause and look at some of the remarkable ways general aviation gives back to the world. We’ve traveled to hurricane-ravaged Haiti to watch pilots give back by ferrying desperately needed supplies to that country. We joined pilots who donated their time and aircraft to help sick children and cancer patients get to needed treatment. We journeyed to countries where the airplane is the only means to provide medical help and resources to people in need—in Africa, Mexico, South America. And we applauded pilots who rescue animals from terrible fates. In telling these stories over the years, many, many photos had to be left on the cutting room floor. To provide inspiration—and to emphasize the power of pilots and their aircraft—we offer these never-before-published back-story photographs.
General aviation aircraft are often the only means of transporation to remote areas where natural disasters or poverty prevent residents from receiving health care. Groups such as Doctors Without Borders, Patient AirLift Services, and others rely on volunteer pilots and their aircraft to access these remote regions.
Helping the most vulnerable of all—children and animals—is a special aspect of benefit flying. AOPA journalists flew with pilot Joe Howley, who brought young Tyler Peryea home from an extended hospital stay after treatment. Today Tyler is a robust, happy young soccer player. Groups such as No Dog Left Behind ensure mistreated and homeless animals find forever homes.
Getting patients to the care they need or going to the area where care is needed is a unique ability of general aviation aircraft and their pilots. In the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, volunteer pilots transport cancer patients to the mainland. In remote areas of Mexico, GA aircraft enable doctors and dentists to help patients.
Medical aid takes many forms—from routine surgeries in makeshift hospitals to emergency transport for critical patients. And caring for others goes beyond medical relief; general aviation aircraft help Special Olympians get to events they otherwise would not be able to attend.