Dec. 28, 2018

Earlier this month, the Colorado Aviation Business Association (CABA) participated in its Annual Holiday Charity Drive and VFW Airlift, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Metropolitan State University of Denver flying teams and volunteer pilots. Food, toys and hygiene items were loaded on 32 aircraft at Centennial Airport (APA), and two aircraft at Montrose Regional Airport (MTU) in Montrose, bound for 14 rural communities around the state.

The initiative began nine years ago when Brittany Davies, then the president of CABA and now NBAA’s Northeast regional representative, and her father, then VFW State Commander for Colorado, considered a partnership between the two organizations for a holiday charitable drive.

That first year, 1,500 pounds of toys and other goods were delivered, said Kandi Spangler, CABA chairman and JetAviva sales director. “We thought that was a good turnout at the time. This year, we collected and distributed 10,000 pounds toys, food and other goods, using general aviation to deliver the goods to rural VFW families.”

Aircraft ranging from a Pitts to a PC-12 participate in the airlift each year. This year, a helicopter, provided by Denver-based Air Methods, participated for the first time. Metropolitan State University’s precision flight team provides aircraft, pilots and overall organization of the flights. VFW volunteers at each destination help unload the items, and then distribute them to local veterans and their families.

While Spangler remained on the ground in an organizational role this year, she described her experience flying in the airlift last year.

“Four airplanes departed at the same time, headed for Greeley, CO,” said Spangler. “We landed about the same time and the VFW outpost in Greeley was waiting with signs and balloons. It was an amazing feeling. Our pilots love flying for the airlift. It’s a very rewarding experience.”