The docuseries “The Aviators,” in its fifth season, is putting the spotlight on the “good guys” in an upcoming episode, slated for airing on stations around the world this October.
Each year, altruistic pilots around the world donate their time, skills and aircraft to benefit countless people — and animals — in need. Season 5, episode 4 of The Aviators will feature a segment on three such organizations whose charitable actions fulfill an enormous humanitarian need, while fulfilling their own passion of flying.
Anthony Nalli, producer and host of The Aviators, comments on his own inspiration for the upcoming segment: “I’ve been involved with a number of volunteer organizations since I was 15 years old,” he says. “Within aviation, I donated my time as a pilot to organizations including Hope Air, which provides non-emergency medical flights to those in need, and the EAA Young Eagles program, through which I had the opportunity to introduce hundreds of children to the world of aviation.”
“It is important to put the spotlight on volunteerism in aviation because it has the potential to improve millions of people’s lives by bringing them one step closer to the assistance they need — whether it is medical treatment, disaster relief or in the case of Pilots N Paws, animal rescue. We hope this segment will inspire pilots to reach out with their time, skills and aircraft, and we hope non-pilots will support these organizations in any way they can.”
One of the organizations highlighted in the episode is Santa Monica, Calif.- based Angel Flight West, a non-profit volunteer driven organization that arranges non-emergency air travel for children and adults with serious medical conditions — free of charge. The organization matches pilots with individuals requiring medical attention and facilitates air travel, making medical care or treatment possible where it might otherwise be inaccessible.
“Some of our passengers are tired and may have had chemotherapy and just want to get home; we put them in the plane and they immediately fall asleep,” comments Rob Ross, a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight West. “But there are others who fly and want to see the maps, put on the headsets and learn how all the equipment works. It is part of the therapy for them and a new experience.”
Archangel Airborne was created in 2010 following the devastating effects of the earthquake in Haiti. The organization’s founder, Stuart D. Hirsch, had a vision to create a “special operations team” that could use aviation — in combination with land and sea transport — to provide assistance to areas with severe humanitarian needs. The Haiti disaster was the catalyst that propelled Hirsch to realize his vision and since then his team has returned for several subsequent missions.
“We are going into villages where there are no clinics, where there are no physicians,” Hirsch says. “Some of the people in these villages have never seen a physician or medical provider. It is an honor to be with them and serve them, but also an honor to see how deeply appreciative they are of our presence. That is humbling.”
In late 2012, the organization provided help after Hurricane Sandy decimated parts of New York and New Jersey.
“We were able to rapidly mobilize and deliver supplies to the coastal regions and use our aircraft to airlift supplies when fuel was being rationed and cars and trucks had a very difficult time getting to certain areas,” he said.
Another organization highlighted in the upcoming episode is Landrum, SC-based Pilots N Paws, a non-profit that provides a meeting place where volunteer pilots and aircraft owners can facilitate the transportation of animals in need. Though still a relatively young organization, having been founded in 2008, Pilots N Paws already has 3,000 volunteer pilots and has relocated over 40,000 animals.
“I fly for Pilots N Paws mainly because I found that these animals don’t have anybody else advocating for them,” says Jeff Bennett, a volunteer pilot. “If a dog gets put into a rural shelter, it has a very low chance of coming out. By combining our love of flying with our love of animals, we are able to take these dogs and move them into areas where they are more easily adopted.”
These three organizations are just a small example of the increasing community of aviation-oriented volunteer driven organizations providing no cost flights for health, compassion and community related service objectives, producers note.
For more information: TheAviators.tv