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Fly with SouthWings

A few things to know before requesting a flight

SouthWings partners with conservation groups, community groups, media, and decision-makers to provide a unique perspective to better understand and solve pressing environmental issues in the Southeast.

WHAT WE DO

SouthWings' pilots have flown thousands of individuals and organizations, from local groups to national powerhouses, to educate community leaders, policy-makers, and the media, and to collect scientific data on forests, watersheds, historic landmarks, and the globally significant ecosystems of the Southeast.

SouthWings is not a commercial flight service, and our passengers don’t “hire” us for a flight. Instead, Southwings connects and facilitates scheduling and logistics between passengers and our corps of volunteer pilots.

We work with individuals with the greatest potential to influence positive environmental changes through diverse methods including:
  • Engaging Stakeholders
  • Holding Polluters Accountable
  • Conserving Critical Habitat
  • Addressing Climate Change
  • Collecting Data
  • Enhancing Organizational Success

types of flights

We employ three proven flight models:
  • Monitoring and Survey Flights
    We can provide aerial coverage to areas that are often remote or inaccessible by ground. These flights assist in gathering data that may be used for scientific or regulatory purposes.
  • Flights of Persuasion
    From leaders in the community to senior decision-makers, these flights give select passengers the opportunity to be inspired to lead positive change for natural resource awareness and protection.
  • Media Flights
    For photographers, videographers, writers, and journalists, these flights capture the story of the environment, bringing evidence to a wider audience.

What Our FLight Partners Say

"I always tell people that you can’t really understand or appreciate the enormity, heterogeneity, and complexity of the unconventional oil and gas industry’s impact unless you look at the landscape from the cockpit of a Cessna 172 ... Often times tables, charts, and graphs fail to capture much of the scale and scope of fossil fuel’s impact."

"Thanks to SouthWings, I have been able to show mountaintop removal coal mining to dozens of journalists, activists, educators, and students. Each time I see this devastation from the air the experience is gut-wrenching. It is as though I am seeing it for the first time through the eyes of those who really are seeing it for the first time."

Vivian Stockman
The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

“My volunteer pilot ... flew us over my areas of interest and was very considerate of what I wanted to see, offering to adjust our path for me to get a better view. The flight definitely exceeded my expectations and goals. I learned ... about the effects of dredging and how to identify the different types of industry impacts on the marsh and what the water can do when sediment is allowed to deposit.”

Jessi Parfait
United Houma Nation
Ted Auch
The Fractracker Alliance

Where We Operate

SouthWings arranges flights in fourteen states, including much of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, central and northern Florida, Louisiana, the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly everywhere between.
  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
For flight needs outside of this region, contact our sister organization, LightHawk.

Scheduling & Flight Planning

We recommend requesting flights at least two weeks prior to your intended flight date. Once you complete a flight request form with details regarding your intended flight route, passengers, objective, and expected outcomes, a staff member will be in touch to review your request and, if approved, connect you with an available pilot.

Flights typically last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Our pilots have final say over where and for how long they feel comfortable flying, and follow all FAA guidelines concerning air traffic in the vicinity of major airports, military bases, power plants, and other restricted zones.

If you have an idea for a flight that you would like to discuss, contact a staff member who can help you develop your flight plan. We look forward to working with you!

Aircraft

Our volunteer pilots utilize a variety of personal aircraft, but most SouthWings flights operate on two- or four-seat fixed- wing planes. Many of our pilots provide access to high-wing Cessnas that make for excellent photography opportunities, while some use low-wing planes that can travel at faster speeds, and some even use helicopters. Sometimes missions involving larger groups require aircraft with extra seats, though more frequently larger groups will be split into smaller sets of passengers for multiple flights.

Pilots

Our experienced corps of volunteer pilots forms the backbone of our organization. Volunteer pilots are required to have logged at least 750 of pilot-in-command time, and either own or have access to a well-maintained aircraft.

Every Southwings flight has intent and purpose, and our pilots are proud to play an invaluable role as guides, educators, and entertainers to the distinguished influencers and decision makers we host.

Cost and Liability

SouthWings pilots use their personal aircraft and donate the costs of the flight, including fuel, time, maintenance, etc. Have we mentioned how awesome our pilots are?

SouthWings flights have the same status as any flight made with passengers by a private pilot under Part 91 of the FAA Regulations. All of our volunteer pilots carry liability insurance on their aircraft, but each passenger on a SouthWings flight is required to sign a mandatory waiver which releases SouthWings and our pilots from liability.