What is Public Benefit Flying?

Every day, volunteer pilots across the United States are serving the needs of humanity. Using their own aircraft, and donating their time, hard-earned skills, and all flight expenses, they assist the health and well being of others. Many provide access to distant medical care for patients in need. They relocate animals to better homes or better habitats; fly to support environmental initiatives; offer unique flight experiences to children; respond to natural disasters; and fly to support our veterans. It’s estimated that volunteer pilots provide over 25,000 free humanitarian flights every year in the United States, an activity commonly referred to as “Public Benefit Flying”.

Public benefit flying organizations utilize the unique capabilities of General Aviation aircraft to lend a hand whenever rapid and safe air transportation is needed to serve the public.

Here are some of the ways Public Benefit Flying makes a difference:

Access to Medical Care
Cited as the third most common barrier to care, transportation is a considerable problem for all patients. Children and adults with advanced cancers, rare illnesses, pre- and post- transplant needs, and other serious maladies, often require medical treatment they simply cannot access where they live. This is especially true of rural areas. Without being able to access free transportation, many of these patients would be forced to forego life-saving treatment.

Fortunately, Air Care Alliance member groups throughout the United States arrange free air transportation for patients and others in need. Volunteer pilots for these organizations provide free, private air transportation to ensure patients can access the care they need. 

Environmental/Conservation Flying
Volunteer pilots across the country donate their time, talent and airplanes to greatly enhance environmental causes and conservation work.

Pilots who volunteer for environmental organizations provide survey flights to collect scientific data of local eco-systems, assess environmental damage, and participate in scientific studies and wildlife counts. The information gathered on these flights is instrumental in educating policy makers, community leaders, and the media on all sorts of environmental issues. It also helps to foster a dialog and promote informed decision making among conservation partners.

Animal Rescue
All across the United States volunteer pilots assist with the rescue of animals that have narrowly escaped euthanasia at high-kill shelters by flying them to new homes or no-kill shelters where they have a much higher chance of adoption. Volunteer pilots also assist in cases where injured wildlife need to be moved for treatment, or to assist our veterans with transport of service animals.
Emergency Response/Precious Cargo
General aviation can be a lifeline in times of natural or national disaster. Volunteer pilots can help with search & rescue efforts or aerial assessment of damage. They may transport medical and emergency relief staff, deliver critical medical and relief supplies to affected areas, or relocate survivors or evacuees.

The services of volunteer pilots are often needed for the delivery of precious cargo including blood and tissue.

While some organizations solely focus on disaster relief, most PBF organizations will mobilize in times of need, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent hurricane relief efforts.

Civil Service/Veterans Transport
Many volunteer pilots and organizations are committed to serving our nation’s heroes. They provide free transportation to military personnel/veterans to and from medical treatment; they reunite veterans and families; fly families to visit patients recovering at medical centers; and provide lift for morale-boosting experiences for veterans.
Education & Experience Flights
Volunteer pilots can introduce others to the wonders of flight in various unique ways. There are organizations that provide introduction flights for children, flights for grief support, or experiential flights for kids with disabilities.
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