Letter from director:

The idea for Around the World for Life came to me after a medical relief flight. I remember the day very clearly. I had done dozens of these volunteer flights, flying people to and from hospitals for treatment, flying rescued dogs to new homes, or sometimes just filling an empty seat with someone less fortunate and needing a ride (think airplane equivalent of hitchhiking). After all, any excuse to share the experience of flight or help another person is also an excuse to fly! This day’s flight would be different. I landed at New Orleans Lakefront airport to pick up the patient and her travel companion (In this case a little girl and her mother). The patient just had her 5th birthday 2 days before our flight. Her name was Grace, fittingly. She was very shy at first. I placed her in the co-pilot seat and told her she could help me fly the airplane. I talked through everything as I was doing it in an attempt to make her feel more comfortable, and then she started asking questions. Lots of questions! She told me she liked to be called Gracie. Then we talked about her birthday. She told me about the party and her cake and I asked if she remembered to make a wish when she blew out the candles. She told me her wish was that one day she wouldn’t be sick. Gracie suffered from a rare form of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. I was flying her to MD Anderson in Houston for treatment. I am not sure how her treatment worked out, but she did send me a thank you letter in the mail some time later. I simply gave her a ride that day …. She gave me so much more. You see, little Gracie left me with a question that I needed to answer. What can I do to help? Sure, I could keep donating a flight here or there, but that just didn’t feel like nearly enough. All of my colleagues know that if I am going to do something, it is going to be on a grand scale, so that afternoon, Around the World for Life was born.

-T.R.

General Aviation (GA) is a vital component of the aviation sector and the national economy that accounts for nearly 77% of all flights in the United States. Perhaps the best way to define general aviation is to begin by listing what it is not. General aviation is not military aviation and it is not scheduled commercial aviation. To a great extent, all other uses of aviation in the United States fall into the category of general aviation. These uses include, but are not limited to, private and sport flying, aerial photography and surveying, cropdusting, business flying, medical evacuation, flight training, and the police and fire fighting uses of aircraft. The airplanes used in general aviation range from small, single-engine, fabric-covered aircraft to multi-million dollar business jets. They also include helicopters, restored warbirds, and homebuilt aircraft designed to use advanced composite technology. The term general aviation came into use during the 1950s. Before that time, commentators talked of private flying or business flying. Regardless of the term or terms used, the non-military and non-commercial airline uses of aviation date back to the very early history of powered flight.What is now known as general aviation really did not emerge fully until after the mid-1920s. Nonetheless, even before then a number of individuals began to experiment with uses of flight technology that would later become important parts of general aviation. For example, the first uses of airplanes for crop treatment, aerial surveying, and corporate flying all dated before the mid-1920s. Also, the first production and purchases of aircraft for private uses also happened very early in the history of flight. Wealthy individuals and some early exhibition pilots purchased aircraft from such pioneer aircraft manufacturers as the Wright brothers and their chief rival, Glenn Curtiss. Just before World War I, Clyde Cessna, a self-taught exhibition pilot, briefly operated his first aircraft company, one he founded with the purpose of building and selling small, relatively inexpensive aircraft for personnel use.General aviation received a tremendous boost in the late 1920s with the trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh. His celebrated feat created a great deal of enthusiasm for flight of all kinds. In particular his flight encouraged many to continue to explore the varied uses of aviation technology. At the same time, though, as aviation grew as an activity, government regulations at both the state and federal levels worked to make access to flight a little more difficult. While the new programs did help give birth to the commercial airline industry, they also began to demand that pilots earn licenses and that aircraft receive certification. These measures undoubtedly helped make general aviation safer. At the same time though, the age of the backyard builder and self-taught pilot were numbered.

Much of the history of general aviation has been shaped by the dreams and beliefs of those who wanted to take to the skies. Here at Around the World for Life, we believe that the power of flight can be the difference between life and death or even just an experience of a lifetime for a young child whose days consist of hospital visits and illness. We strive to promote the use of general aviation to enhance the lives of others.