Saturday, October 23, 2010
If you are a relatively low time pilot, looking to put your piloting skills to use serving the greater good, you might consider flying for Pilots-n-Paws (PNP). It will take you to parts of the country you might never otherwise visit, and put you in touch with a lot of caring people---pilots and non-pilots alike---who are devoted to using their skills to do some good.
As an added bonus, you get to have fun flying, and take a tax deduction on the expenses related to your flight. (So, if you are trying to build time for your Part 61 instrument rating or commercial rating, this is a great way to do it.)
Of course, there are numerous public benefit flying opportunities. If you are looking for such opportunities, the Air Care Alliance is a good place to start. We are all familiar with the various Angel Flight organizations, but there are quite a few other opportunities out there. One potential obstacle to new pilots is the relatively high experience requirements the various Angel Flight organizations place on their pilots (as they should). For example, Angel Flight East requires 300 hours total time and an instrument rating. Angel Flight Northeast's requirements are even more stringent---500 hours total time, 400 hours PIC and an instrument rating. So, if you are a relatively low time pilot, and you want to do public benefit flying, PNP is a good place to start. All they require is that you are legal and willing to fly. (Some folks even help out with an LSA license.)
It will give your flying some purpose, and will take you to parts of the country that you might not otherwise go. In the short time I've been flying for PNP, I've been to NC, VA, MD, PA, Buffalo NY, and Hartford CT, just to name a few places. And along the way I've met some pretty great people---both pilots and non-pilots. I now have enough hours to fly for Angel Flight, but I continue to fly for PNP on occasion just because the experience is so enjoyable.
If you are concerned about carrying animals in your aircraft, usually the sending rescues will provide crates. And I carry a variety of harnesses and leashes just to be safe. Most of the time, the dogs just fall asleep for the flight. The forums at the PNP website is chock full of tips from other pilots as well.
And if you need more convincing, how can you resist this?