Our Legacy as Pilots:
Do Some Good, Have Some Fun

10:53 PM

We all go through life, and then one day – poof – we are past history. When that happens, we all leave behind a legacy, the footprint of what we did good or bad for humanity.

Here in activist-thick Western Oregon, we hear a constant song of people working alone to save the planet, or save a neighborhood park from developers. In other parts of the country, these kinds of lofty goals are often met with smirks and a “whatever” attitude, but in Eugene, people practice what they preach. There are long lists of people who have made their mark on this area in a very positive way, choosing one tiny slice of the community to improve.

As pilots, we are members of a very exclusive club. And as we plow through the sky chasing hamburgers or driving airliners full of vacationers, deep down inside, we all want to help keep aviation alive and kicking for the generation to follow ours.

Think about that for a moment. Can you really name one pilot who at one time or another hasn’t flown a Young Eagle’s flight, or taken a kid up to look at their house from 2000 feet AGL? But beyond turning kids on to flying, we all can leave a legacy of helping our local community, or assisting someone in need.

With our wonderful flying machines, we have the golden opportunity to serious effect lives, and here are a few ways you can do that:
AirLifeLine / Angel Flight - helps people in financial need obtain equal access to health care by coordinating free air transportation.

Challenge Air for Kids & Friends - offers motivational, inspirational and life-changing experiences to physically challenged children and youth through aviation.

Civil Air Patrol - flies more than 85% of all federal inland SAR missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley AFB, Virginia.

Corporate Angel Network - the only charitable organization in the USA whose sole mission is to ease the emotional stress, physical discomfort and financial burden of travel for cancer patients by arranging free flights to treatment centers, using the empty seats on corporate aircraft flying on routine business.

Emergency Volunteer Air Corps - promotes and coordinates effective and useful additional General Aviation volunteer participation in emergency relief efforts, especially following disasters.

Flying Samaritans - offers medical assistance and education to the people in rural areas of Mexico.

LIGA – The Flying Doctors of Mercy - provides medical, dental and eye care to impoverished people in rural Mexico since 1934.

LightHawk – provides pilots and aircraft for use in environmental campaigns, media flights, technical flights for image or data acquisition, and others.

Mercy Medical Airlift - a non-profit organization dedicated to serving people in situations of compelling human need through the provision of charitable air transportation.

Miracle Flights for Kids - improves children access to health care by providing free air transportation to hospitals across America, no matter what the personal or financial situation of their families might be.

Orbis - dedicated to the prevention of blindness, the saving of sight, the delivery of training, the transfer of skills, and the creation of a world where quality eye care, education and treatment are available to every human being.

Wings of Hope - staffed by over 300 skilled executives, pilots, mechanics and administrative personnel, Wings of Hope combats malnutrition, disease and harsh living conditions in remote areas of the world.

Wings for Greyhounds, Inc. - flies retired racing Greyhounds between Greyhound rescue organizations working at the Arizona race tracks and the outlying Greyhound adoption centers in the LA, Northern and Central California areas.

LifeLine Pilots - a private, non-profit organization that provides people in medical and financial distress with access to free air transportation on small, private aircraft for health care and other compelling human needs.

Northwoods AirLifeLine - a non-profit organization of volunteer pilots from Michigan 's Upper Peninsula and northeast Wisconsin who donate their time and aircraft to help patients and their families with urgent medical needs for services not found locally.

Wings of Mercy - provides free air transportation in the Midwest for people with limited financial means who need treatment at distant medical facilities.

Children's Flight of Hope - provides free private air transportation to and from distant medical facilities for children with critical medical needs in the North Carolina area.

SouthWings - uses flight in advocacy for sustainable solutions to restore and to protect the ecosystems and biodiversity in the southeast; collaborates with over 250 organizations and logs over 300 flight hours per year to educate civic, media and political leaders and to collect scientific data of vital ecosystems, forests, wetlands and riparian areas, and special habitats in the south.

Volunteer Pilots Association - a charitable non-profit organization providing air transportation to needy people who must travel to obtain medical treatment.
A few years ago, I created the Welcome Sky Aviation Scholarship Program, a non-profit program that mined cash donations from wealthy pilots who would not miss a few bucks, pooled the resources, and then paid for flight training for the best and brightest 16-21 year olds we could find. From my work with Welcome Sky, I know that three pilots up there got there because of my work.

Even though Welcome Sky is on hold these days, I still strive every day to fire up humanity about aviation. I write this blog, I write magazine articles, I help out at airshows, anything I can do to get the word out. In fact, what you are reading right now is part of my own legacy.

So…what will YOUR legacy be? I urge you to do something tomorrow to help push aviation forward. Click one of the links in this post, or call your kid’s elementary school and offer to make a presentation on flying. Trust me, everything you’ll ever need can be found here. And of course, AOPA’s Project Pilot is also a great resource to use as a way to give something back.

Pay it forward…a simple concept that works to perfection.

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