Helping to fly patients to hospital

Social development Community lifelines

Some stories don’t hit the headlines in the way they should. In July 2014 employees of NAV CANADA, Canada’s air traffic management organisation, announced they had raised C$100,000 to support Hope Air, which organises free flights for low-income Canadians who need non-emergency healthcare not available in their local communities.

In 2013, Hope Air and its commercial airline partners and donors provided 7,090 free flights to Canadians from coast-to-coast. Since its start in 1986, the charity has provided over 85,000 flights.

The achievements of organisations such as Hope Air around the world are often vast and unreported. Wings of Hope has over 3,000 volunteers operating medical evacuation services and other mercy flights to remote communities around the world. Angel Airlines For Cancer Patients' Services, provided 2,412 commercial airline tickets in 2013, for US cancer patients and relatives. Following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in the USA, over 2,500 flights were flown through the Air Charity Network – a group volunteer private pilots - to reunite families separated during the evacuation of flood-ravaged areas and to relocate families out of shelters to safe housing elsewhere.

And I personally give to Aviation Sans Frontiers, a French charity that can trace its routes back to 1968, when some pilots and mechanics of Air France deeply upset by the genocide in Biafra decided to give their support to a survival operation with an airlift operation using a Super Constellation. Other similar operations were later organised for Bangladesh, the Sahel, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso). The organisation was officially founded in the early 1980s.

There are many more such worthy causes around the world. These achievements deserve greater publicity – not just to highlight the unique role that aviation can play in these areas but to increase the urgently needed support for members of the aviation community making a real difference to peoples’ lives everywhere.