Jan. 3, 2020

Business aviators often come up with innovative ways to use their aircraft and flying skills to serve the public good. This is what prompted Colorado pilot Mark Pestal to found AeroAngel in 2010 – a nonprofit that has provided more than $2 million in air travel services to more than 200 seriously ill children across the U.S.

“I was serving on the board of another air charity and saw the need to do more flights where passengers needed more capable aircraft to go longer distances in all weather conditions,” said Pestal. “I founded AeroAngel to help very sick children get to critical life-saving medical care on private jets at no cost to their families when they have no other safe travel options.”

Pestal is an ATP pilot with a Citation type rating, and after retiring in August 2019, now coordinates AeroAngel flights, and also serves as co-pilot or monitoring pilot on most of the organization’s flights.

AeroAngel has access to 20 turbine business aircraft to help transport children and their families when flights on a commercial carrier are not possible. The organization also owns a Lear 55, a mid-size jet that was donated in whole to AeroAngel.

“We were trying to help a family with a 4-year-old in Denver who needed to go back to Boston Children’s Hospital for a one-year follow-up visit following a lung transplant,” said Pestal. “We reached out and found the owner of the Learjet, and a couple of months later, we got a call from his CFO saying that the owner just wanted to donate the jet to AeroAngel.”

Pestal is celebrating AeroAngel’s 10th anniversary this year, and said the organization utilizes mobile technologies to run a very lean business model, with 97% of all donations going directly to providing children with flights.

The value of business aviation in providing humanitarian lift for worthy endeavors is among the central themes of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Learn more about AeorAngel and how you can help.