SouthWings helps partners maximize their ability to achieve their conservation goals
SouthWings is not a commercial flight service, and our passengers don’t “hire” us for a flight. Since SouthWings’ founding in 1996, we have been a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring southeast ecosystems through flight. Our staff and pilots share our flight partners’ conservation goals, and we therefore seek to develop ongoing relationships that make flying with us both easy and, just as importantly, as effective as possible.
If you would like to request a SouthWings flight, please submit your flight request online and one of our staff members will be in touch with you.
Where does SouthWings fly?
We cover part or all of eleven Southeastern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In Florida, we only fly from Tampa Bay and Orlando northward; our sister organization, LightHawk, flies in southern Florida.
What kinds of flights does SouthWings do?
Our flights address the environmental challenges and opportunities facing the Southeast. Although we greatly admire our friends who transport pets, transfer patients, and provide humanitarian aid, these flights do not fit our mission. If you want one of these flights, please visit the Air Care Alliance website for more information.
Within our environmental mission, we concentrate on flights in our priority areas, but many of our flights address other issues. If you’re not sure whether your flight idea falls within our mission, please call us and we’ll be happy to explore whether it’s a fit.
What types of aircraft does SouthWings use?
The majority of aircraft in SouthWings’ volunteer pilot network are Cessnas that can carry up to three passengers. Visit our Pilots page for pilot dossiers listing their aircraft.
Who pays for the flight and fuel?
SouthWings pilots use their personal aircraft and donate the costs of the flight, including fuel, time, maintenance, etc. Because of the generosity of our pilots, we have been able to offer flights at no charge. However, as aviation fuel costs rise, it has become more difficult for our volunteer pilots to donate their services as often as they want to, and they have asked our staff to explore creative solutions to address this ongoing concern.
As a result, in 2012, SouthWings instituted an initiative to allow sharing of fuel costs on a voluntary basis when both the pilot and the passengers agree. We believe this is the best option over the long term for both our partner organizations and our volunteer pilots. While our pilots continue to donate their time and the use of their aircraft, stretching those contributions by sharing the cost of fuel will help us reduce the financial impact on our volunteer pilots and enable us to continue providing our irreplaceable services to as many flight partners as possible.
Please read through the included Frequently Asked Questions document to get full details, facts and insight about how you can participate in the fuel sharing initiative.
What is my liability and how is insurance handled?
SouthWings flights have the same status as any flight made with passengers by a private pilot under Part 91 of the FAA Regulations. All SouthWings pilots carry liability insurance on their aircraft. SouthWings requires a signed waiver of liability from all passengers. The waiver releases the pilot and others from liability, similar to what you would sign if you participated in an adventure sport.
Waiver – requires signature
How do I request a flight and how far in advance do I need to do it?
Requesting a flight is easy. Click here to access our simple online request form, or just call us and we’ll be happy to talk to you about putting a flight together. While we understand the need for quick response time in some situations, please try to request your flight at least two weeks in advance of the day you would like to fly so that we have the best chance of matching you up with a volunteer pilot.
What if I don’t know exactly how to make my flight idea work?
No problem. Our experienced staff will work with you to make sure the flight is as powerful as it can be—both for you and for your conservation goals. Just call us!
How do I get ready for my flight?
As part of the preparation for each flight, we prepare a flight-day plan, which will provide all the logistical details you need to make it happen smoothly. Of course, your safety is our number one concern, so we carefully monitor weather before the flight and postpone the flight if there appears to be any concern.
If you’re new to flying in small planes, check out our preflight preparation guide, which includes helpful tips.
I will be taking pictures on the flight; how can I tell where they were taken?
“Geotagging” digital photos—including location coordinates in the image’s data—is easier than ever with new software and hardware. If you have a smartphone or handheld gps unit, or access to the data from your pilot’s gps unit, you can embed this information into your photos and always be able to tell exactly what you were looking at when you took them. Check out our guide for details on how to do this.
What do I need to do after the flight?
After the flight, we ask that each passenger fill out a passenger report form so we can continue to improve our services. We also ask that passengers share a few of the best photos or videos from the flight. Finally, we ask you to keep us informed about the outcomes from the flight—whether they’re media articles, litigation, increased outreach to your members, or anything else—so that we can keep track of the real impact of our work.
Passenger Report Form – to be completed after flight