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ES Can a volunteer pilot be reimbursed for fuel or other expenses incurred while conducting a LightHawk flight?

Usually all expenses associated with a LightHawk flight in the volunteer pilot’s own aircraft are borne by the pilot as part of the volunteer donation. There are some exceptions, as indicated below for various classes of expenses.

Direct flight expenses include fuel and oil costs, landing fees, tie-down fees, aircraft rental fees, and similar expenses. Unless specifically authorized by the FAR’s and your insurance policy, volunteer pilots are not legally eligible for direct expense reimbursement.

Indirect flight expenses include ground transportation, food, lodging, and similar expenses that may be associated with completing a LightHawk flight, but are not directly connected with operating an aircraft. All volunteer pilots are legally eligible to receive reimbursement of such indirect flight expenses and LightHawk sometimes provides reimbursement for such expenses (usually in the case of multi-day tours outside your home area). Any such reimbursements must be pre-authorized by the LightHawk program manager coordinating the flight.

Excluded expenses include depreciation, depletion of maintenance reserves, insurance costs, hangar costs, or other costs of ownership pro-rated over the life of the aircraft or a year. These expenses cannot be reimbursed.

To receive reimbursement for pre-authorized expenses, your original expense receipts must be attached to and itemized on a Pilot Expense Report Form, which is turned in to your program manager after your flight. After receiving these, LightHawk will issue you a check for those approved expenses. Please ask the program manager coordinating your flight for more detailed information and appropriate forms.

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