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Volunteer Pilots First Flights

LightHawk volunteer pilots fly missions to advance conservation efforts around the nation. Here are a few of the first LightHawk flights volunteer pilots new to our network have donated in generous support of our mission:  


Ken Foster

Area: Gulf of California

Date: March 11, 2016

Partner: Mexican Fund for Conservation of Nature

Mission: This is flight was one of many to count and locate fishing vessels in the upper gulf of California, which is habitat for the critically endangered Vaquita. In 2014, fewer than 100 Vaquitas existed, their sharp population decline the result of illegal gillnet fishing for the totoaba. Recording and documenting fishing activities is critical to the conservation of the endangered vaquita.


Tom Dillon

Area: Jacksonville, Florida

Date: March 23, 2016

Partner: OCEARCH

Mission: OCEARCH is returning to Jacksonville, FL for its 24th expedition generating scientific data critical to ocean conservation of Great White Sharks. Data collected will further the understanding of the ecology, physiology, and behavior of white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean.


Jim Afinowich

Area: Sun Corridor, Arizona

Date: May 31, 2016

Partner: Sonoran Institute

Mission: LightHawk is helping a team from the Sonoran Institute better understand the scale of the Sun Corridor project, and how LightHawk can help with monitoring, outreach and education flights for donors and stakeholders. The Sun Corridor project encourages healthy community design, new and smarter infrastructure and land conservation in south central Arizona by focusing on clean energy development, balanced urban growth and state policies that restore and protect Arizona’s rivers.


Steve Kent

Area:  Palisades Interstate Park

Date: June 8, 2016

Partner: The Nature Conservancy - New Jersey

Mission: To collect aerial baseline documentation photography in the Palisades Interstate Park area.


Mike Hart

Area: Idaho-Montana Border

Date: June 13, 2016

Partner: Heart of the Rockies Initiative

Mission: To collect high-quality aerial footage to represent how the High Divide is interconnected along the Continental Divide to be used as part of the film "The High Divide," which will premiere in late August 2016. The film will help establish an identity for the regional planners and conservationists.


Bob Thomas & Doug Harford

Area: LaSalle County Frac Sand Mines
Date: June 24
Partner: FracTracker
Mission: To photograph 218 square miles of fracsand mines and processing facilities in Northern Illinois. Fracsand is a crush-resistant material used by the petroleum industry in the hydraulic fracturing process (known as "fracking") to produce oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids from rock units that lack adequate pore space for these fluids to flow to a well. Fracking one well can require several thousand tons of sand and between 2009 and 2012 the amount of fracsand used has tripled creating a billion dollar mining industry.

Andreas Lauschke

Area: High Mountain Park Preserve, New Jersey

Date: July 24, 2016

Partner: The Nature Conservancy - New Jersey

Mission: To collect aerial videography of the 1,260-acre High Mountain Park Preserve in Wayne, New Jersey. The Nature Conservancy hopes to use the video on websites and in presentations as part of ongoing public education about its other local missions and projects, and its work along the Delaware River Watershed.


Tim Toal

Area: Upper Mississippi River, Wisconsin

Date: August 6, 2016

Partner: The Nature Conservancy

Mission: To support a comprehensive assessment of several restoration locations on the upper Mississippi River. The flight served to educate TNC’s board of directors on the value the projects have to the upper river basin and to collect imagery for publicity and monitoring.