General aviation alphabet group the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has partnered with Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) to raise funds for their mission supporting our combat wounded. VAC is a charitable organization that provides free air transportation to wounded warriors, veterans, and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes. NATA and VAC established a special fund last year, NATA Wings for Warriors, to contribute to the organization. This year, NATA’s support of VAC has been expanded throughout all of the association’s major 2012 events.
VAC was founded by retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot Walt Fricke, who grew the VAC mission from a single volunteer aircraft owner and pilot — himself — into a national network of more than 1,700 volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.
When wounded warriors return from the battlefield, they are often in need of ongoing medical treatment far from their homes, loved ones, and comrades. VAC coordinates the transportation of wounded veterans and their families all over the country, utilizing a network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots who donate their time and equipment to support the activities of the VAC. In fact, these flights are now recognized under the official FAA call sign “Hero Flight,” which air traffic control grants priority handling whenever possible.
“The VAC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,” said Fricke. “Donations are absolutely crucial to maintaining our national network of pilots and aircraft owners, in order to facilitate their missions. And, with our target of doubling the size of our turbine/jet volunteer fleet over the next 18 months, we look forward to partnering with organizations such as NATA to help us in accomplishing this vital goal.”
“We are honored to bring awareness to the Veterans Airlift Command and its important mission,” said NATA President and CEO James K. Coyne. “We encourage our members to consider not only making financial donations, but also offering aircraft and pilots for VAC flights; even a few hours a year would be a gracious contribution to VAC.”
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