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Mon, Jul 27, 2009

Public Benefit Aviation And Mission-Based Flight Ops Showcased At AirVenture

Find Out How You Can Make A Difference

By Maxine Scheer

Giving to others is one of the common denominators for many of those whose lives are touched by aviation. At this year’s AirVenture, Fly4Life has set up an exhibit at the south end of AeroShell Square that includes static displays of aircraft flown for charitable purposes. Fly4Life, in coordination with others, has also programmed a series of workshops throughout the week to educate those interested in public-benefit or mission operations and highlights some challenging missions and lessons learned. This Fly4Life event marks the largest recognition program ever presented for humanitarian flying at an EAA event.

ANN talked with one of the event organizers, Rol Murrow, about the goals of the event. “Many volunteer pilots help people on an individual level and through various sized organizations throughout the world,” says Rol. The contributions can be as simple as delivering an animal or package to as complicated as missions involving search and rescue, disaster relief or emergency evacuations. The challenge now is that people are cutting back on flying, so finding more individuals who are willing to help is a big concern.” 

One of Angel Flight’s volunteers, Mike Jesch, was helping set up the exhibit. In his day job, Mike is a captain on a B-737, and in his free time, Mike flies Angel Flight clients in his Cessna 182.

“Some of the most meaningful work is helping people during what is often the worst times,” said Mike. When asked about his experiences Mike recalled a woman who lived near Yosemite, CA and was undergoing chemotherapy at UCLA Medical Center. “She would drive 6-8 hours, each way, multiple times-a-week for her medical treatment. Commercial flights took equally as long, presented threats of compromising her immunity and both options were exhausting.”  Mike commented that before Angel Flight appeared, she was actually considering discontinuing the treatment because of the challenges with travel. Angel Flight coordinated with the Kiwanis Club for ground transportation and turned her ordeal into a comfortable 90 minute trip.

The Fly4Life program is support by EAA and others. “What we discovered as we finalized the schedule for fly4life is there are more wonderful stories involving aviation than could possibly be told,” said former EAA vice president Bob Warner, serving as the program’s chairman.

A Fly4Life website has been created to feature the remarkable stories of public benefit and mission-based aviation and provides links to the dozens and dozens of organizations who provide these vital services.

Attendees at AirVenture can also find a listing of Fly4Life events this week on the Fly4Life website.

FMI: www.fly4life.org

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