April 25, 2018

In 2009, pilot Ted DuPuis grew concerned that a pet overpopulation epidemic in certain regions of the United States was the root cause of millions of dogs and cats being put down every year. It inspired DuPuis to found Kansas-based Cloud Nine Rescue Flights, an all-volunteer organization that gives people looking for pets more options than going to a commercial pet store, breeder or puppy mill.

Since it was founded, Cloud Nine has flown more than 2,000 homeless pets, the vast majority being dogs. Approximately 10-15 percent of the animals transported have been cats, and the organization has even transported a pair of alligators, which DuPuis called, “some of the best passengers I’ve ever had – they were very quiet.”

When Cloud Nine started out, DuPuis flew a Piper Aztec for his missions, before moving up to a donated Cessna 310 in 2010. The next upgrade was to a 1977 Cessna 414, and now, with demand for transport still increasing, the operation upgraded again in January 2018 to a 1972 Mitsubishi MU-2F aircraft, which DuPuis says is the perfect turboprop for their mission.

With the increased speed, longer range and large cargo area of the MU-2, Cloud Nine is able to reduce cost-per-animal transported.

“Most aviation-based pet rescue organizations fly small numbers of animals in single-engine planes,” DuPuis explained. “Although the costs of a 172 are obviously significantly lower than an MU-2, when you calculate the cost-per-animal per mile, an MU-2 is actually more efficient because we fly faster and can carry far more animals on each flight.”

DuPuis said he has traveled all over North America in pursuit of saving the lives of animals.

“We are unique in our ability to provide an extremely capable aircraft for long trips. Trips can exceed 700 miles one way, costing upwards of $2,000 per flight, typically saving 15-20 pets in the process,” he noted on his website. “Being able to perform these trips in a single aircraft makes them less strenuous for those being transported, as well as greatly increasing the ability to complete a mission, by only having one pilot and aircraft required.”

Learn more about Cloud Nine Recuse Flights.