Air Charity - The Volunteer Corps of Aerial Work Aviation

Aviation is not just about business but about giving much more beyond the bottom line! Aviation Work aviation through special non-profit flying organisations and volunteer flyers give back ten-fold locally and globally through the power of flight. So suppose you're interested in making a difference with your passion for flight and helping the world with its many different problems; Patrick Ryan will help you understand the world of ‘Giving’ and this unique Aerial Work ‘Air Charity’ community that helps others.

Patrick Ryan  |  12th September 2022
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Patrick Ryan
Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan brings over 30 years of experience as a Senior Consultant helping government and business...

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Air Charity - The Volunteer Corps of Aerial Work Aviation


As much as you might think the aviation industry sector is a consuming enterprise, it also has a vital giving aspect that helps the world in many philanthropic ways. For example, Aerial Work volunteers or Air Charity groups work at the grassroots level to create positive change that lasts long after their help. These volunteers invest in our world — one flight, one project, one friendship at a time — that leads to new possibilities and chances for many people around the globe. 

If you didn’t know, the air charity sector of Aerial Work aviation is a generous effort that provides the power of flight to people and communities in need who seek specialised help due to personal, community, or national crises. Air Charity volunteers and organisations operate worldwide, and its volunteers utilise their aircraft, fuel, and time to provide free services to help distressed or otherwise people and animals unable to help themselves because of circumstances out of their control. 

To provide such support, the air charity sector provides everything from planning, logistics, and, most importantly, the airlift required to make a difference. So, what is this benevolent sector, and what do these volunteers do? To answer this question, let’s start with ‘What is Aerial Charity?’ 

Air Charity

As mentioned before, air charity consists of individuals and organisations that conduct flight operations to benefit the general public. Specifically, air charity has a distinct purpose of providing a positive benefit to society and is primarily funded by frequent contributions from private donors, communities, and government grants. This sector’s backbone comprises private individuals, foundations, charity groups, and non-profit organisations. Air charity counts as a charity because of its generous aim, which is what distinguishes it from other for-profit Aerial Work sectors. 

Additionally, air charities give individual pilots and private citizens a chance to use their passion and skills to benefit others — from transportation services for shelter dogs to youth educational programmes. Air charities are involved in all the most significant areas of philanthropy. No matter their passion, they give back to their community locally and globally with the power of flight. 

Types of Aerial Charity

Even though air charity services are adaptable to many altruistic operations, the primary services provided to individuals, communities, and even governments include: Medical Air Charities - These charities concentrate on providing critically ill, disabled, and low-income individuals with the means to receive medical treatment. The primary services these charities provide are: 

• Patient Transportation — Medical air charities match empty seats on private aircraft, corporate jets, and airliners with critically ill patients seeking specialised treatment. This service is free to the patient, giving them a comfortable flight and diminishing some financial burdens of traveling for healthcare treatments. Additionally, some charities provide transportation for specific communities like disabled veterans and their families. These flights are provided for both medical and appreciation purposes. 

• Organ, blood, and Tissue Transportation — 24/7, 365 days a year, medical air charities provide transportation services for blood, tissues, and organs in many world regions. 

Even though there are hundreds of such medical air charities around the globe, here are just a few air charities dedicated to medical and organ transportation: 

• Air Charity Network

• Corporate Angel Network 

• Flights for Life 

Animal Air Charities - Animal charities focus on animals’ rights, care, and wellbeing. They aim to relieve neglected, abused and exploited domestic and wild animals. 

Animal air charities advocate for the rescuing and safe sheltering of animals using air transportation. Additionally, they provide the means to facilitate the organisation of rescue flights. Plus, they provide all the resources necessary to identify and shelter animals in need. In many cases, these animals are being transported out of situations like: 

• Natural disaster areas 

• Hoarding situations 

• Dogfighting rings 

• Overcrowded animal shelters. 

Some of the animal air charities currently operating in the world relieving the suffering of animals are: 

• Pilots N Paws 

• No Dog Left Behind 

• Paw Rescue UK 

• Drone to Home 

Environmental Air Charities - These charities focus on finding solutions to environmental problems through education and advocacy. Environmental air charities use monitoring and survey flights, flights of persuasion, and media flights to bring attention to environmental concerns in many regions of the world. These concerns include energy sources, forests, coastal habitats, and water quality protection. 

Besides informing and persuading the general public, 

other air charities help fight against poaching using manned and unmanned aircraft. They combine advanced surveillance technology with a team of park rangers on the ground to observe poacher activity. 

As an example of such environmental air charities focused on informing or persuading politicians and the general public regarding the environment, the following are just a few organisations focused on such efforts: 

• SouthWings 

• Air Shepherd 

Educational Air Charities - Educational air charities offer motivational, inspirational, and life-changing experiences to teenagers, young adults, and physically challenged children through aviation, i.e., a chance to reach their dreams. These charities join with communities and families to conduct exciting special educational events by providing the chance to fly in light aircraft piloted by disabled and non-disabled aviators. 

The following air charities are either a hundred percent dedicated to providing an educational experience or its one part of their overall air charity endeavours: 

• Aerobility

• Aviation Without Borders - ASF UK 

• Challenge Air 

• Fly2Help 

Emergency Air Charities – Emergency air charities provide frontline emergency services like a government agency. Some of these efforts include search and rescue operations, monitoring disaster crises, inspecting critical infrastructure, and finding missing persons. 

The emergency air charity sector promotes, coordinates, and conducts effective and useful General Aviation (G.A.) volunteer involvement in emergency relief efforts, especially following disasters. Some of the leading and established charity organisations providing such emergency lifesaving services are: 

• Civil Air Patrol 

• Air Rescue Channel Islands 

• Drone Emergency 

UK disabled flying charity Aerobility provides flight

The Aircraft of Air Charity

The composition of aircraft & kits used in air charities varies from manned and unmanned aircraft and the type of work they are conducting. However, the notable aircraft used today for charitable operations are fixed-wing and rotorwing manned aircraft. Though drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are relatively new to air charity, they are quickly expanding in use, especially in emergency response operations. 

Manned Aircraft

Outside of using airline and executive jets for transporting medical patients, the dominant aircraft types at the grassroot level of air charities in the manned aircraft field are either single or twin-engine airframes or light-lift rotarywing platforms. However, in the task of transporting medical patients or blood, the most common aircraft are fixed-wing, such as the: 

• Cessna 172N Skyhawk 

• Grumman Cougar GA-7 

• Cessna 182R Skylane 

Regarding rotor-wing aircraft and medical transportation, several of the most common cost-effective but practical helicopters used today for charitable patient transportation, especially in the U.K., are: 

• Eurocopter EC135 

• Eurocopter EC145 

• M.D. Helicopters MD530 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Regarding volunteering and helping others via aviation, UAV technology has become even more prevalent in recent years. Today, UAVs are used across the spectrum of charitable efforts to find missing dogs and deliver critical medical supplies to remote African villages. 

Additionally, UAVs are utilised to conduct lifeguard rescues and crime prevention operations. Such technology is evident in many fields, including natural disaster relief operations. 

Undoubtedly, UAV Aerial Work aircraft are expanding in their support of the air charity sector. In addition, the unmanned aircraft industry sector is expanding its platform options to supply charity organisations with an affordable option to make a difference in their efforts. 

Like the manned aircraft sector, the UAV sector is expanding its charitable abilities into the sky over urban areas, mountains, and waterways with both fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAV aircraft, but on a much lower, smaller, and cost-effective scale. Depending on the type of charitable effort, the current leading providers of platforms in the UAV aircraft OEM sector are: 

• Search and Rescue Missions - DJI Phantom 4 PRO 

• Medical Supply Transportation - Zipline 

• Life Guard Drones - AuxDron 

Civil air patrol aircraft

The Volunteers of Air Charity

At the end of the day, air charities bring together people who care about a cause so that they can make a difference. There is probably an air charity working on whatever people care about. 

The volunteers supporting air charities help in many ways, by offering direct help, providing information, or raising awareness of an issue. But, of course, lots of air charities do a mix of all of these things. 

When it comes to the people who support air charity organisations, most are private citizens interested in a cause and aviation. So who are these air charity volunteers giving their time, money, and skills to help others? 

Pilots

The pilots who volunteer to fly for air charities are caring, compassionate individuals from all walks of life and professions. Most charities require volunteer pilots to meet civil aviation authority proficiency requirements, i.e., a Private Pilot License (PPL) or higher. Plus, have a current medical certificate and maintain aircraft liability insurance. Additionally, in some cases, volunteer pilots generously use their aircraft, time, and the entire expense of the flights, including fuel costs, any landing fees, and the standard operational maintenance costs of the aircraft. 

Ground Support

Volunteer pilots could not accomplish their flights without a strong network of ground support volunteers. Air charity ground support volunteers do everything from establishing the charity and obtaining donations to supporting flight activities. Some of the specific tasks ground support volunteers provide are: 

• Coordinating flights 

• Screen passengers 

• Provide ground transportation for people or animals 

to and from the airport 

• Help with community outreach or awareness 

campaigns 

• Help organise donation events 

• Perform other essential administrative tasks 

• And more… 

Ambulance charity Helicopter

Summary

Undoubtedly, charities of any kind play a critical part in every society. However, charities hold a very particular space in our societal structure. Air Charity is part of this endeavour but with an eye on leveraging the power of flight to help others. The air charity sector provides everything from planning, logistics, and, most notably, the airlift required to make a difference in every community around the globe. 

Even though the air charity sector is just one small part of a sizable global charity community, its donation can be hugely felt within hours and days when a person or community has an immediate need. Even though some civil governments and military organisations provide such service from the sky, charity groups like Aviation Without Borders are picking up more of these services today and will well into the future. 

When it comes to the future, both manned and unmanned aircraft of all types, with their specialised capabilities, will continue to be used in transporting critical supplies and medicines, finding missing persons, educating the young, and many more services at the right time and in the right place. Because of the unique capabilities airplanes bring to the world, the air charity community will continue to make a positive change for many decades. 

So, when you read about a catastrophe or a person in need, be comforted knowing a fleet of aircraft, from small UAVs to widebody jets, along with their benevolent volunteers, are coming to the rescue to save lives alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity. In other words, the air charity service sector is genuinely the ‘The Helping Hand’ of Aviation.

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