Volunteering Your Passion for Aviation
Volunteering is a great way for pilots and aviation enthusiasts to share their passion to positively benefit others. We aviation lovers understand the tremendous benefits that flying can bring to people; sharing those benefits with others is a great way to spend your aviation time and money. Not only do you get to do something that you love, you get to help others at the same time, and you’re strengthening the case for the continued viability of general aviation.
There are many volunteer pilot and public benefit flying organizations in existence. I will discuss five here – Angel Flight, EAA Young Eagles, Veterans Airlift Command, Lighthawk, and Pilots N Paws.
There are many Angel Flight organizations across the United States, each covering a defined geographic part of the country. Generally speaking, the Angel Flight organizations are made up of volunteer pilots who volunteer their time and aircraft (and pay the expenses) to fly patients to and from medical treatment and also in response to other compelling needs. Angel Flight is not an air ambulance – all passengers must be medically stable and ambulatory. As an example, a passenger might be a cancer patient who lives in an outlying area without specialized healthcare. Driving to a cancer specialist may be impractical due to a long arduous drive or the person may not have a car or be able to afford transportation. Angel Flight gives these people a new lease on life.
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Young Eagles program pairs schoolchildren with volunteer pilots. These students receive their first flight at no charge. They also receive an online ground school course so that they can pursue their flight education if they are inspired to do so. Young Eagles has helped inspire thousands upon thousands of children to learn about aviation, and more generally to become interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Veterans Airlift Command enables volunteer pilots to fly wounded warriors, and sometimes their families, who need transportation to or from medical or for other compelling reasons. Volunteer pilots gain satisfaction from knowing that they’ve been able to provide a service to our soldiers who have made tremendous sacrifices in support of our country.
Some pilots enjoy donating their time and use of the aircraft for environmental causes. An organization called Lighthawk makes this possible. Pilots fly aerial survey and other missions, often bringing along researchers studying the ecology, biology, or climate of a particular area.
And if you’re an animal lover, there’s Pilots N Paws. This organization connects volunteer pilots with animals that need to be rescued. The organization often arranges transportation for animals who are at risk of euthanasia at one shelter and so that they can find a permanent home in other place, often many states away. An animal’s life is saved and a family is thrilled to have a new pet to call their own.