Flight Following February 2011

Flight Following
the official newsletter of the Air Care Alliance

Welcome to Flight Following! We will periodically publish Flight Following on our website and also send it directly via email in order to make sending and receiving it as convenient as possible for everyone. 

This journal is intended for volunteer pilots, group leaders, other volunteers, professional staff, and all those interested in the incredible world of public benefit flying! Feel free to pass it along to others. We hope it provides useful information making it easier for those who use aviation in public service do a better and more enjoyable job of flying to help others! 


Air Care logo





The Air Care Alliance promotes, supports, and represents public benefit flying through communication and cooperation among organizations facilitating flights for health, compassion, and community service.


Distinguished Volunteer Pilot


Distinguished Volunteer


Outstanding Achievement




Champion of Public Benefit Flying     

Nomination guidelines may be found on the NAA website at 



Nominations will be accepted from March 1st - May 31st


The awards ceremony will take place in Washington, DC this fall.  Watch your email for more nomination information!




at AOPA Summit

The Air Care Alliance has staffed a booth at AOPA's Annual National Convention every year since 1994. The booth is located in the Public Service area and volunteers from a number of different groups use it to tell the story of Public Benefit Flying to attendees. Usually about ten thousand aviation enthusiasts attend the convention.

This year our booth was located in the main hall. A steady stream of visitors came by and asked about volunteer pilot operations and how to find a group. In addition, members of the media and leaders of various aviation associations stopped in and asked about the work of the volunteers.

ACA President Lindy Kirkland, Chairman Rol Murrow, and Bruce Landsberg, of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, also appeared on AOPA LIVE, so that ACA could present a check to Bruce for the first installment of the matching funds being raised for a new online safety course AOPA is producing. Half of the funding is being provided by the AOPA Foundation, and the balance is being provided by generous contributions from various volunteer pilot groups and others.

The course is part of the safety initiative ACA has underway in response to the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, following its investigation of several accidents involving patient transport by volunteers.

ACA also organized a seminar and panel discussion called "Beyond the $100 Hamburger - Flying to Help Others." More than seventy attendees listened and asked questions as speakers discussed the world of public benefit flying. Our panel included Walt Fricke of Veterans Airlift Command, Rick Durden of LightHawk, Jeff Kahn (ACA director) of Angel Flight East, as well as Lindy Kirkland and Rol Murrow, both on the ACA Board.

ACA was the first organization to be provided a special public benefit booth at AOPA's conventions. With the success of those first trials AOPA has expanded the idea so that now there is a whole "street" of public service booths.

The leaders and volunteers at the various booths enjoyed meeting one another and learning about their different missions, and we all extend a hearty THANK YOU to AOPA for its longstanding and continuing support for the work of the volunteer pilots and others involved in charitable aviation.








Dozens and dozens of groups serve our communities and those in need, including international, national, regional, and statewide groups - and even small local groups with just a few pilots serving their immediate area. 


The Air Care Alliance lists and makes referrals to all the groups we can find. If your volunteer pilot organization is not on the Air Care Alliance Listings Page at


please send us your information so we can include you!

Cloud Nine Rescue Flights
Corporate Angel Network
Dreams and Wings, Inc.
EAA Young Eagles
Emergency Volunteer Air Corps
Flights For Life
Flying Paws
Flying Samaritans
Freedom Flight
Grace Flight of America
Grace on Wings
Great Commission Air
Help Four Paws
His Wings Aviation Ministries
Honor Flight
Hope Air of Canada
Hope Flight Foundation
Houston Ground Angels
Hope Wings Foundation
International Shrine Aviation Association
Kids Wings
LifeLine Pilots
Liga - Flying Doctors of Mercy
Los Medicos Voladores
MedFlight of Indiana
Mercy Flight of Alabama
Mercy Flight of Indiana
Mercy Flight Southeast
Mercy Medical Airlift and Affiliates
Mercy Wings Network
Miracle Flights for Kids
Missions Made Possible
North Carolina Baptist Men Aviation Ministry
Northwoods AirLifeLine
Oklahoma Baptist Men Aviation Ministry
One Heart Mission Services
Operation Angel Planes

Official Newsletter of the       

Air Care Alliance                     

February 2011

Beam of clouds



Celebrate our Non Flying VolunteersRol Murrow
Rol Murrow, Chairman of the Board


Because most of our organizations depend so much on volunteer pilots it is easy to feature them in much of our promotional efforts.  And they do such great work!

But don't forget those who serve our organizations, the patients and others in need, and the volunteer pilots by performing the myriad of nonflying jobs it takes to keep the flights going. 

Like the pilots, the other volunteers have jobs and families who come first, and yet they find time to help out by coordinating flights, building websites, writing news releases, stuffing envelopes, organizing events, advising patients and agencies, and keeping the offices functioning.  Be sure to give them all the kudos they deserve!

For those who perform their nonflying service far beyond the norm, the Air Care Alliance and the National Aeronautic Association have established a special award category for the awards we present each year in the United States Capitol Building. Keep that in mind as you consider candidates for the awards during the March - May nomination period.


I also want to thank some volunteers who have been working on behalf of all our organizations.  In addition to their commitments to their jobs, families, and their own public benefit flying groups, they put in extra time doing all it takes to run the Air Care Alliance. Please join me in thanking the ACA Board Members, past and present, and the other volunteers who have organized our Air Care Conferences, prepared our media pieces, worked with the agencies, staffed our booth, and done so much to protect and promote the work of all the volunteers and their groups. 


President's Message


Continue!Lindy Kirkland

Charles (Lindy) Kirkland, ACA President


Greetings to all volunteers out there! I hope you have managed to avoid most of the foul weather this winter and are making the most of your flying time. I am very excited to provide an update on our ACA/AOPA Online Safety Course and to let you know we are well on our way to raising the money to complete the course.


In early December we met with the staff at AOPA and with Max Trescott to discuss the way forward on the course. Max has been retained to create the initial content and brings a wealth of experience and capability to the project. In 2008, Max was honored as the National CFI of the Year and as a noted aviation author, he has written numerous books and articles on flying and safety. Lastly, he is one of us - he has flown as a volunteer pilot for several organizations and really understands the unique environment in which we operate. The meeting solidified the basic outline and we were able to highlight key points that needed special emphasis. Since the meeting, we have had another opportunity to refine the outline to pare down some of the voluminous content.


We expect to have the first draft of the course ready in the March timeframe and we hope to be able to show this to you at the Air Care Conference in April. From this draft, we will refine the content and presentation to maximize its impact and effectiveness. After that is complete, the writers, videographers, and computer graphics artists will set about completing the project and finalizing the presentation. We should be ready to go live with the course in late June....just in time for Oshkosh!


Many of you have been so kind to donate material and your expertise to this project. As we progress through this project, we will be calling on many of you to review the drafts and provide feedback for improvement. Thank you all - this has truly been a team effort.


Incoming Arrival...Don't Miss This!


Operation Angel Planes of Rhode Island presents 


Air Care 2011

National Conference


April 15-17, 2011
Providence, Rhode Island


Marriott Providence Downtown


Air Care 20011 will be held April 15 - 17 at the Marriott Providence Downtown.  Attendees have the option of joining us for a wonderful day-long excursion to the City by the Sea: Newport, Rhode Island. The final agenda for your national meeting is almost complete and you can see the latest schedule at

www.aircareall.org. In line with the NTSB recommendations 'best practices' likely will be the focus of Air Care 2011.


We won't elaborate, but will let this gem of a location speak for itself through our listing of a few e-sites that just might tell the story better than we ever could.

Featured ACA Member


Wings of Hope


Nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize! 


The entire public benefit flying community can be proud of one of its members - Wings of Hope. The group recently received word that it has been Nominated for the 2011 Noble Peace Prize. Nominators from the Nobel Committee search the world for candidates. Wings of Hope's unique philosophies and commitment to world peace came to the attention of a nominator, who selected the charity for consideration.


Wings of Hope works around the globe to serve those in need with its unique combination of aviation and humanitarian goals. More than 3,000 volunteers are involved worldwide, including more than 600 at its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. The charity is a non-profit, non-sectarian and non-political organization operating 155 bases throughout the world, and also flies patients for care across the Midwest. It was founded in 1962 to provide sustained efforts to deliver programs to provide for Peace and Hope. The largest volunteer charity in the Midwest, its work extends into domestic and international programs. Wings of Hope is the largest and oldest volunteer aviation charity in the world.


In past years Wings of Hope has won several National Public Benefit Flying Awards, presented in the United States Capitol building by the National Aeronautic Association and the Air Care Alliance.

Wings of Hope Plane


To learn more about this admirable group, and the work of its volunteers, we encourage you to visit the Wings of Hope Website www.wings-of-hope.org


Jeff Kahn's Legal Corner


Exemption Du Jour

Jeff Kahn, Attorney at Law


Last October, the FAA revised the exemptions that it previously granted to Wings of Mercy, Inc. and Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic that allow pilots to accept reimbursement for expenses of volunteer medical patient transport flights. The FAA placed less onerous conditions on both the organizations and pilots seeking to implement the exemption. The requirements to take advantage of the exemption are still substantial and the exemptions only apply to the specific organizations that applied for and received them. The FAA has recently denied a similar request from HelpFourPaws, Inc., which provides volunteer flights to bring animals facing euthanasia to a permanent shelter.

In considering an exemption from regulations, the FAA requires that the applicant demonstrate that its request is in the public interest and that an equivalent level of safety can be achieved under the exemption.

The FAA has often expressed its support for volunteer pilots providing ambulatory medical patient transportation. Therefore, up to this point, the focus has been on issues of safety and it was assumed that the FAA would deem fostering these flights to be in the public interest. That assumption was correct, but the issue of public interest has remained an essential element in FAA's consideration of exemption requests.

HelpFourPaws learned this when the FAA determined that its mission, although worthy, was not compelling enough to grant an exemption from the FAR's. In its denial letter dated January 11, 2011, the FAA stated:

[Previous] exemptions have been limited to situations in which human life and health have been the primary considerations. Although providing similar assistance to animals may be a good cause, we find it is not sufficiently in the public interest to justify exempting such operations from the regulations. We note that, although the FAA is denying this petition, HelpFourPaws' volunteer pilots may continue to conduct these operations without reimbursement for expenses.

Thus it is not enough that the flights would presumably have the same level of safety as flights transporting human patients. In the FAA's view, the public interest would not be "sufficiently" served by allowing a pilot to receive reimbursement for fuel and other costs for these flights under an exemption from FAR §61.113. In other words, the FAA determined that what HelpFourPaws requested was safe and good, but not good enough.

The FAA's position that human patient transport is of higher public value than animal transportation may be supportable, but basing its decision on degrees of public interest (as opposed to the exemption either being in the public interest or not) seems ill-defined and arbitrary.

There are a multitude of reasons why a requested exemption might be contrary to the public interest and there may be unarticulated reasons to justify the FAA's decision in this case. But how does one know what is "sufficiently in the public interest" to justify an exemption? I guess we will just have to wait for the next Exemption Du Jour.

ACA News & Updates


Support the General Aviation Caucuses 




The Air Care Alliance has been working with the various other aviation organizations such as the Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA), AOPA, EAA, NBAA, etc, to espouse the House and Senate General Aviation Caucuses. This is important because caucus members will shape public policy regarding not only General Aviation but also such issues as how public benefit flying fits into our national agenda.


The GA Caucuses are the largest in Congress and cross party and ideological lines because of the common goal of promoting and protecting General Aviation and GA Airports. Each Caucus has sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to each member of Congress to inform them about the caucus and invite each to become a member.


We encourage the leaders, volunteers, and supporters of all public benefit flying groups to contact their elected officials and to urge them to join their House or Senate GA Caucus. Please send your letters and faxes today!


 To find contact information for your elected officials: click here.


If you wish to use an automated tool, here is a link to the Alliance for Aviation Across America web form for sending letters to your officials click here.



Volunteer Pilot Safety Standdown - March 25 

The NTSB and AOPA, in conjunction with Angel Flight Mid Atlantic is hosting a Volunteer Pilot Safety Standdown on Friday, 25 March at the NTSB Training Academy in Ashburn, VA.  The event will be open to all pilots and it will be free of charge.  The program will be kicked off by NTSB Chair The Honorable Debra Hersman and will also feature Bruce Landsberg of the AOPA Foundation and other notables.  AOPA will be sending out more information via the e-Pilot in the coming days.  Watch for it!


General email: mail@aircareall.org                                    Air Care logo            
Office Phone and Patient Transport Help Line:   
Toll Free: 888-260-9707888-260-9707
Office Fax: 815-572-9192



Air Care Alliance | 2060 State Highway 595 | Lindrith | NM | 87029

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