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Business Aviation Initiatives Promote Holiday Spirit

December 9, 2011

The holiday season has always been a time of year when people consider a way to say thanks for all they have. Often, that’s done by donating time and money to support worthwhile humanitarian endeavors. Several initiatives being coordinated through the business aviation community are designed to help people give back.

Plano, TX-based FBO chain Atlantic Aviation established food and coat drives at all its locations in November and December. Sue Sommers, Atlantic Aviation’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said the response to those efforts, as well as its annual Toys for Tots campaign, has been “overwhelming.”

Operation: Good CheerPentastar Aviation of Pontiac, MI, recently hosted the annual “Operation: Good Cheer” campaign, assisting with the gathering, sorting and distribution of toys to over 4,500 children for the state's Child and Family Services agency.

“The gifts are distributed via trucks and planes, with more than 200 flights scheduled to depart last Saturday,” said Pentastar’s Danielle Tanner. “All trucks, aircraft and flight time are donated by generous volunteers.”

Fixed base operators aren't the only businesses getting in the holiday spirit, of course. Auburn, CA-based avionics sales and repair service TGH Aviation took the opportunity to “count its blessings” for a successful year by giving back to the community, donating time and funding to local associations and causes. The company also matched all funds contributed by employees throughout the year, with proceeds donated this year to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the Grass Valley Marine Corps Toys for Tots.

“We believe that every successful American person or company should share a portion of their success to help grow and support their local economy, and benefit those who are less fortunate,” said TGH sales associate Hilary Coury.

The holiday season is a time for gathering with friends and family, but the busy travel season also means many pilots and other personnel will spend that time away from their children. The Sky Hope Network, which organizes business aviation flights to help those in need, came up with a heartening way to lessen the sting from that time apart, while also supporting the group’s fund raising efforts.

For a $10 donation, the group took orders for gold-plated “Santa's Flight Crew” wings, complete with a letter from Kris Kringle explaining to the child that their mother, father, or other family member will be needed to assist with his very important holiday mission. “I thought it was a wonderful way to give back to the aviation community on so many different levels,” said Sky Hope Network president Robin Eissler.

Some industry initiatives are intended to help people express their holiday spirit all throughout the year.

For example, Banyan Air Service in Fort Lauderdale, FL supports three charitable organizations, including 4Kids of South Florida and the annual Challenge Air “Fly Day” for children with special needs. Kathy Knowles, public relations director for Banyan, notes that employees are encouraged to lend their support to these organizations, as well as the EGBE Hospital Revitalization Project to rebuild a mission hospital in Nigeria.

"It's an honor to be in a position to give back," she said. "Our team has gotten to know the organizations that we donate to and we work very closely with them not only financially, but with donating space for events, and volunteering time to help at events."

Update: South Florida Group Organizing 'Toy Airlift' to Haiti for Holidays

December 19, 2011

The Airlift Flyers Aviation Corps (ALFA), an all-volunteer airbridge based in South Florida, is calling all flight departments and owner/operators to help fly donated toys to children in Haiti affected by the 2010 earthquake. The group expects donations to top 1,000 soccer balls, teddy bears, Lego sets and educational games, and is arranging charitable flights to carry the toys to Haiti by December 22 to clear customs in time for the holidays. ALFA is especially asking any operators planning a positioning flight from the East Coast to the Caribbean to consider carrying a load of toys to Haiti. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact AFLA Coordinator Rick Sante at rick@alfa.aero. Learn more about ALFA.