EVAC: the Emergency Volunteer Air Corpssm

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Special Update - 

Hurricane, Earthquake, and Other Relief Efforts:


Updated 8-31-2017 for Hurricane Harvey:

FEMA has some Hurricane Harvey information at https://www.fema.gov/  In addition, see their page on Additional Information and Resources, including useful links

We are compiling additional information and lists of contacts for groups and volunteers to offer their flying or other services.  Please check back periodically to see that information posted here.

Be aware that airports and other landing areas may be, or have been, submerged or damaged. Find out if your proposed destination will be safe. Observe all Temporary Flight Restrictions and if you need to fly into one be sure to get the appropriate authorizations.  Double check all your planning and do not rush into affected areas or situations. You do NOT want to become part of the disaster!

Note that some emergency authorities have called for folks with boats to help in areas affected by water.  Seaplane pilots who may wish to help should be very careful if they are conducting operations for a volunteer pilot group or for emergency response authorities.  Flooded areas will likeley have both floating and submerged debris, and other hazardous underwater obstacles.  The waters are likely to be muddy as well.  When flying into seaplane bases or lakes and other bodies of water it is best to first verify that qualified seaplane operators have verified the safety of landing areas.

The staff of the Governor of Virginia made inquiry of state emergency management and relief agencies and organizations in Texas and from their information compiled the following advice:


Texas is asking volunteers not to self-deploy. Unexpectedly showing up will create an additional burden for first responders. The National VOAD says the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted zone and individuals may find themselves turned away by law enforcement.

• Potential volunteers are asked to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas and supporting survivors on the ground. The National and Texas VOAD websites are offering links to those who wish to register to volunteer with community- and faith-based organizations working in the field.

• To ensure volunteer safety, as well as the safety of disaster survivors, volunteers should only go into affected areas with a specific volunteer assignment, proper safety gear and valid identification.

• Volunteer generosity helps impacted communities heal from the tragic consequences of disasters, but recovery won’t happen overnight. There will be volunteer needs for many months, and years, after the disaster, so sign up now.

This information underlines the fact that volunteer pilots should work through their organizations or see if they can find an organization that needs their help.


DO read on for additional more general guidance:

This information has been compiled based on prior general aviation volunteer relief efforts following events including the 1989 Loma Prieta, 1994 Northridge, and Haiti earthquakes, 9/11 attacks, Hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, Katrina, Rita, and Gustav, and the international Tsunami response.  EVAC compiled this information in association with the Air Care Alliance.

General Aviation Disaster Relief Information:

The following information provides guidance on how to help.  Please read it thoroughly and watch for updates, below, on our main page, and on those of other groups such as AOPA's, EAA's, and those of the aviation media.

Volunteer Pilots - please be sure to take the AOPA Air Safety Institute Public Benefit Flying online course described below.


Started on September 12, 2001,updated January, 2010 during the Haiti Earthquake, and additional updates to the date at the bottom.

We and the Air Care Alliance received many inquiries from individuals and groups about how they could help following various emergencies and disasters, including following 9/11 and subsequent events described below.  We were not initially aware of a large call then for general aviation services for disaster relief, although some groups were being called upon to transport blood or fly other missions, using the LifeGuard authorizations.  Demand picked up quickly and ultimately several hundred missions were flown by volunteer pilots over a two week period.

During and following hurricanes and other disasters there will likely be a more widespread call for help transporting emergency workers, supplies, or evacuees.

If you wish to help in a current or some future crisis please carefully read and consider the following guidelines:

First, regarding general aviation participation, please work directly with your own flying organizations to contribute in any pre-arranged efforts coordinated by their local emergency planning agencies.

Many volunteer pilot public benefit flying groups will have an emergency services coordinator who can provide information.  The Civil Air Patrol will be very involved in providing its resources in response to this situation, too. 

AOPA has collected much useful information for pilots flying relief missions or needing to fly into the affected areas. We expect AOPA to publish updated information regularly, so keep an eye on www.aopa.org and subscribe to AOPA's eNews alerts such as ePilot.

EAA also publishes good coverage of relief efforts involving GA; please subscribe to their eNews alerts and keep an eye on their website.

AVweb has also presented good coverage and useful information on their NewsWire pages found at www.AVweb.com

Individuals should avoid inundating overburdened emergency service workers with calls during emergencies, especially in the affected areas. Try to get your information first from your own groups or from public sources such as local news announcements, especially from local FEMA offices or other local emergency management agencies. See the FEMA "How You Can Help" page. 

During the first days of 9/11 the Red Cross coordinated a blood drive, with certain types especially needed. If you are interested, call your local Red Cross chapter or 1 800 GIVE LIFE or 1 888 BLOOD-88 or do a search for a Red Cross web site serving your area.

Another source for suggestions on aiding those in need is the Network for Good.    

EVAC has concentrated its efforts on encouraging other public benefit flying organizations to use what it has learned and to form their own emergency service programs. Visit the other pages on this site to see various EVAC activities and regional contacts.  If you wish to help EVAC promote general aviation relief work please contact us at mail@evac.org.

INDIVIDUAL PILOTS can be extremely helpful in the early stages by going to their own local airports and volunteering to help with cleanup or repair activities, and with establishing a base for coordinating local agencies with incoming relief flights.  This can include organizing volunteers to help with loading and unloading and local transportation.  Pilots can also provide reports on airfield conditions and ask the airport operators to issue NOTAMS as appropriate.

 If you wish to volunteer your services as a pilot or other volunteer to an aviation organization, please use the automated "Find a Group" referral system maintained by the Air Care Alliance and fill out the form at  http://www.aircarealliance.org/submit-request-for-assistance

You may also browse the complete list of volunteer flying organizations on the Listings page of the ACA site.  In addition to the groups you contact using the automated system you may contact groups in your area or areas near the disaster directly, using the information in the complete Directory of Groups.   See  http://www.aircarealliance.org/directory-groups  -

As we determine contact information for other groups who may need individual pilots we will provide it above.  We anticipate that the need will be for fixed wing and helicopter aircraft.  Seaplanes may prove useful in limited situations because many of the waters will have debris and hidden obstructions.  Watch for better information as we obtain it.

Many of these groups have emergency service or medical transport programs which may be operating.  During the 9/11 emergency when airspace was closed the blood missions were being flown utilizing the "LifeGuard" call sign flight procedures designated by FAA.  As airspace reopened routine transport missions were flown utilizing the ACA "Compassion" call sign procedures published on this site.  Some Angel Flight groups also used the "Angel Flight" call sign, with procedures derived from the ACA's Compassion procedures. 

Please note, however, that during an emergency FEMA and other relief groups tend to be overloaded with offers of help. Most who are actually asked to fly missions do so through the various flying organizations in the ACA, or for local agencies and social service organizations.  Thus we urge you to volunteer and fly with them.  Please investigate a number of organizations flying in your area and offer your help to them.

Note that during an emergency the groups may be to busy to conduct flight orientation rides in order to induct new pilots.  In that case please volunteer for nonflying activities such as "right seat" help for their pilots, as well as ground operations such as loading and unloading supplies, etc.  You will be just as essential for helping those in need by doing so as in flying.

Quite often pilots will find that they can perform missions for their local social service agencies or nonprofit groups in order to help others, and that they can fly into airports that are not restricted.  Do follow all pertinent NOTAMS and check the sites above for additional information before flying.

Note: most groups have an orientation and acceptance procedure to get new pilots involved. It is best to join groups and learn about their programs before an emergency. During an actual emergency situation new volunteers can get in the way if they are not careful. 

In your haste to help please do not become part of a disaster!

SAFETY FIRST !  Do not allow the urgency of the situation to compromise safety.  In fact, pilots should add an extra margin to their own personal minimums to compensate for the pressure to be of help. 

We strongly recommend that all volunteer pilots take the following short safety course prior to making any charitable flights:

The AOPA Foundation's Air Safety Institute and the Air Care Alliance have produced The Public Benefit Flying: Balancing Safety and Compassion Online Course which was created at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), working with the Air Care Alliance and its member groups. 

The course provides excellent information for volunteer pilots on how to maximize the safety of such operations, the responsibility of pilots to their patients and others being transported, etc.  Taking the online course qualifies one for FAA Wings program credit.

Use this link to the Public Benefit Flying: Balancing Safety and Compassion Online Course

For those organizations such as volunteer pilot organizations, clubs, and airport associations wishing to help, EVAC - the Emergency Volunteer Air Corps - has provided much useful information including a sample short emergency operations guide, on this site. See the Short Guide.

We will update this information periodically so please keep an eye on this site.

Whenever possible please call the listed groups directly to offer your assistance. ACA does not coordinate relief flights.  The listed groups do.  Pilots who still wish to contact EVAC directly regarding relief questions should use this email address:


Please do send us emails describing any emergency relief operations in which you may participate or have knowledge so we can share your information with others.

Thank you for your interest in using your time and skills to help others!

Background information regarding selected prior events:

2010 Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts:

The 2010 Haiti quake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and devastated the country and its people, largely because of poor construction materials and techniques and lack of infrastructure to respond.

In addition to the support and airlifts provided by military and international aid groups, hundreds of general aviation pilots, working through their public benefit flying (PBF) organizations, volunteered their planes and services to help out.

As with the prior events below, EVAC circulated information about the quake and response to all the Air Care Alliance listed PBF groups as well as to the aviation and general media, and encouraged the groups to work together and follow safe procedures in responding.  EVAC also fielded numerous offers of assistance from individual pilots and from companies, and funneled them to groups in their areas of the country which were providing aid.

While the media focused on the large relief planes arriving at the Capitol, hundreds of flights were provided by GA pilots flying into smaller airports in Haiti, including to roads in areas without airfields, ferrying medical personnel, relief workers, and supplies; and then returning them or medical patients back to the United States.   Many of the flights first flew from the U.S. to staging areas in the Dominican Republic, and then flew over the mountains into Haiti.

EVAC again provided useful information and updates on the Air Care Alliance website,  http://www.aircarealliance.org

2005 Katrina Relief Efforts:

Following the 2005 hurricane disasters EVAC provided information on the Air Care Alliance site for those who wished to help.  Hundreds of pilots, working for a number of different groups, pitched in and provided vital transportation services during the aftermath. Information has been provided on the Air Care Alliance website  http://www.aircarealliance.org/. In addition the volunteers were honored with a National Public Benefit Flying Award at the United States Capitol Building.

2004 Tsunami Relief Efforts:

Again, following the 2004 Tsunami disaster EVAC provided information on the Air Care Alliance site for those who wished to help, similar to the information posted above.  With the distances involved most U.S. based pilots pitched in to help collect money and relief supplies.  Some joined international relief organizations in order to help. The information on this site may be of use in thinking about how you might help during an emergency.

 Attacks of September 11, 2001

Immediately following the attacks EVAC sent bulletins to all its contacts including all the groups listed in the Air Care Alliance database.  The first flight took off that very day, an Angel Flight of Oklahoma volunteer pilot carrying blood test kits to St. Louis, where another volunteer flew them on to be delivered in New York city.

We won't provide more details here.  Suffice it to say numerous groups responded, and many flights were flown over the subsequent weeks.  There have been a number of stories published about some of these relief flights flown in the aftermath of 9/11.  We worked with the media in preparing some and helped collect information about them.  Links to several have been provided by EVAC and can be found at the the Air Care Alliance website.


Prior Relief Efforts

When EVAC was formed in 1987 we presented sessions on the value that General Aviation volunteer pilots could provide following disasters at two meetings of the California Pilots Association, in San Diego County, California and in Concord, California.

Two years later immediately following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake several attendees at the Concord meeting organized an ad hoc volunteer pilot airlift between Bay Area airports and Watsonville Airport to provide aid to stricken communities in the Santa Cruz area.

EVAC also helped in encouraging or organizing GA support for Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew, floods in Guaymas, Mexico, and firefighting operations in Mammoth Lakes, Califonia.

And of course beginning at the first conference of the Air Care Alliance in 1990 EVAC has provided seminars, workshops, and panels on general aviation relief at subsequent annual conferences, encouraging and urging the member groups of the Air Care Alliance and their leaders to be prepared to respond when emergencies occur.  The rest is history.

Final reminder - while it is wonderful that folks wish to help following an emergency it is far, far more helpful if volunteers get plugged into relief work BEFORE emergencies occur.  If this is not an emergency situation please take some time and learn how you can work to improve our ability to really be of help when it is most needed! 


Please EMAIL US if you have additional information or comments about relief flights or news articles relating to the 9/11or other emergency situations.

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