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ES Am I covered by LightHawk’s insurance when I fly LightHawk's aircraft?

If a VP has an accident in LightHawk's aircraft, LightHawk's aircraft coverage is the primary insurance for hull damage and liability. However, in some cases a VP may still have liability exposure beyond the liability coverage of the policy. This is true whenever you fly an aircraft you do not own. Therefore, carrying your own non-owned aircraft liability insurance is strongly recommended, though not required, for pilots who fly LightHawk's aircraft.

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ES Can I fly a jet aircraft for LightHawk?

Pilots with a minimum of 1,000 hours PIC time in airplanes, 500 of which are PIC time in jets, can fly specific LightHawk flights in a jet airplane.  Additionally, a VP must have 200 hours of PIC time in the make and model jet to be used for the LightHawk flight, and must have logged 25 hours PIC time in the make and model during the previous 90 days.  An instrument rating and currency are required, and additional insurance requirements may be necessary.  

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ES Can I fly my certificated helicopter for LightHawk?

Pilots with a minimum of 1,000 hours total PIC time, which may be in a mix of fixed wing or rotorcraft may fly LightHawk flights with a few additional requirements. The pilot must have at least 500 hours PIC time in rotorcraft. They must have at least 100 hours total time in the helicopter make and model proposed for the flight, with at least 10 of those hours obtained within the past 90 days. Finally, they may fly certificated helicopter models only, complying with all legally required inspections and Airworthiness Directives.

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ES Can I fly my light sport aircraft (LSA) for LightHawk?

Pilots with a minimum of 1000 hours PIC time, private or higher pilot certification and a current third class or higher medical certificate may fly LightHawk flights in light sport aircraft that were factory-built to ASTM standards and bear the airworthiness classification “Light Sport” (S-LSA).

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ES What services do LightHawk program managers provide?

Within regions, our program managers establish issue and area priorities for LightHawk, screen flight requests and partners, and initiate multi-partner collaborations and events.  Program managers also help plan major flight programs for extended campaigns as well as serve as the volunteer pilots’ main point of contact with LightHawk.

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ES Can I fly for LightHawk in Latin America?

LightHawk seeks volunteer pilots to fly their own aircraft or LightHawk's aircraft in Latin America who have a minimum of two and usually three or more of the following characteristics:

  • Have substantial experience flying in one or more countries of Latin America
  • Speak Spanish
  • Have substantial experience in the aircraft to be used (well above the 25 hour insurance minimum) -- OR -- are based with your aircraft in Latin America or able to fly own aircraft down.
  • Have a flexible schedule and are able to go on tours for 2+ weeks at a time.
  • Possess adequate insurance coverage for the countries of Latin America

If you feel you meet the requirements, please begin a discussion with the Mesoamerica Program Manager or Pilot Outreach Manager well in advance of when you might be interested in going.

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ES Can I fly for LightHawk in regions other than my home region?

LightHawk occasionally seeks volunteer pilots who are willing to fly outside their home region and have sufficient experience and appropriate equipment for conditions that may involve mountain, remote area or over-water flying. Some considerations associated with flying in different regions are outlined below. In addition, see special criteria for flying for LightHawk in Latin America. If you are interested in flying in another region and feel you have the appropriate experience and skills, please contact the program manager for that region to begin a discussion.

Mountain flying conditions

Pilots flying missions in mountainous areas of the Rockies and Pacific regions should have substantial experience with:

  • Weather considerations unique to mountainous areas
  • Density altitude and its effects on allowable takeoff weight and rate of climb
  • Mountain wave activity and turbulence
  • Higher performance aircraft (235 horsepower or better or turbo-power)

Other special flying conditions

Pilots may encounter less familiar flying conditions and may need to cope with new distractions in large congested urban areas under constant ATC control; in remote areas; or during lower altitude flying and flights for photo documentation. Desirable assets might include:

  • Excellent radio skills and ability to navigate by dead-reckoning and pilotage
  • Experience at short/soft field techniques and slower than cruise flight
  • Survival equipment and supplies
  • Ability to fly with an open a window or door off
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ES Where does LightHawk fly?

LightHawk’s administrative headquarters are in Lander, Wyoming. The organization’s regions of operation are:

Mesoamerica: Central America and Mexico; limited operations in the Caribbean.

Rocky Mountain Region: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming; limited operations in Alberta, Canada and Midwestern/Great Plains states west of the Mississippi River.

Pacific Region: California, Washington, Oregon and Baja California, MX; limited operations in Alaska and British Columbia, Canada

Eastern Region: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas; limited operations in North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ontario and Quebec

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ES Can a volunteer pilot get a tax deduction for expenses incurred while conducting a LightHawk flight?

All direct flight expenses such as fuel and landing fees can be deducted unless you are receiving reimbursement for them. Indirect flight expenses and excluded flight expenses cannot be deducted (see previous question for definitions of direct, indirect, and excluded flight expenses). Be sure to check with your accountant or tax advisor for the most current information on tax deductions for your specific situation.

To receive documentation of your in-kind donation of direct expenses for tax purposes, please note the following:

* Each pilot automatically receives, in February, a letter from LightHawk documenting total hours flown on LightHawk flights in the preceding year. For most of you, this will suffice for deducting the cost of fuel expenses, which can be estimated for your aircraft by multiplying average fuel consumption by total hours.  These letters are based on the Pilot Trip Reports filed at the completion of each LightHawk flight.

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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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