Pilots donate flights for Maine conservation efforts

On Oct. 1, pilots from around the country will donate flights in their own aircraft for Maine conservation groups, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) and Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT).

Flights with NRCM will bring attention to the 63-year-old pipeline eyed by the “Trailbreaker” project to bring heavy tar sands crude oil from western Canada through Maine to Portland.

Flights for MCHT will allow the group to assess sensitive areas of the Southern Maine coastline.

The pilots are volunteers with LightHawk, a nonprofit that donates flights for conservation. The group is visiting Maine as part of its annual fly-in pilot appreciation event, which begins on Sunday, Sept, 29.

Flights provided by LightHawk will offer a rare aerial perspective of the Trailbreaker pipeline especially as leaves drop for an unencumbered view, organizers noted. The pipeline passes next to Sebago Lake, the drinking water source for 15% of Mainers, and several communities have already voiced opposition to transporting tar sands oil via the Portland-Montreal Pipeline.

LightHawk is donating these flights as part of its mission to advance environmental protection efforts through aviation.

MCHT has collaborated with LightHawk for over a decade using flight to elevate its work of conserving the iconic shorelines and islands of Maine. Flights enable the land trust to make aerial images of properties to serve as a baseline, then quickly monitor large and dispersed parcels efficiently from the air year after year. The aerial perspective also helps build support for new conservation easements by providing an at-a-glance understanding of the importance of protecting these areas, according to officials.

This year, LightHawk’s keynote speaker for the fly-in will be National Geographic Explorer, Mission Blue founder, and legendary ocean champion Dr. Sylvia Earle. LightHawk has invited local conservation groups and students to come listen to Dr. Earle’s reflections on almost four decades of underwater exploration and her vision for ensuring a healthy future for our oceans.

LightHawk is a non-profit that leverages a network of about 200 volunteer pilots to provide more than 400 donated flights each year to enhance conservation efforts in North and Central America. LightHawk is a purely collaborative organization that unlocks the resource of flight for conservation groups. For pilots, LightHawk provides a way to use their skills and aircraft to benefit conservation, giving back through their love of flying.

For more information: Lighthawk.org

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