What guides Amelia Air? Well, as pilots, we have established a plan and using all available information, we try to execute on that plan. So our plan (like a flight plan) in summary is the following:

  1. Rescue animals
  2. Use airplanes
  3. Be safe
  4. Be efficient
  5. Educate & inform others

#1 Rescuing animals is our essential mission. Since we’ve been connecting with pilots over the years, our primary means of rescuing animals is using airplanes (#2 above), but because we also know people who don’t have airplanes, and many of our volunteers have also adopted rescue animals – this is exactly why rescuing animals is our primary purpose.

#2 Using airplanes is simple: Because our founder and others absolutely love airplanes. But it goes further than that – many of the rescue organizations that exist to transport animals use cars, vans and trucks. A fantastic way to capitalize on the sheer number of road-bound vehicles that criss-cross the country every single day! But – for animals who have come close to their time running out, airplanes can come to the rescue almost immediately. And of course, for those animals in disaster areas like post-hurricane flooded cities and towns, airplanes can get where cars & trucks can’t for some amount of time. Plus, the essential argument for using much more expensive airplanes – they’re WAY faster. Animals can spend 2-4 hours total in an airplane and get the same distance that 5-15 hours on the road might have taken instead. For some animals – this is a lifesaver as plenty of puppies have been born on the road where a much shorter flight would have avoided that. And for most animals cooped up in a strange vehicle with strange people – a shorter time in an airplane is more humane than a very long time (20+ hours) on the road.

#3 Without Safety, we wouldn’t be adding value. As an organization, we require our pilots to be Instrument rated, commercial pilots. This is a level of training and proficiency that pushes the pilot to maintain a high standard of knowledge, regular flying skills, and safety habits that are required of the airlines.

#4 Efficiency is our metric for success. We strive to put the maximum amount of donor dollars towards the mission of rescuing animals, which means we can’t spend thousands of dollars for a small number of animals. In fact – our primary metric is to keep the cost per animal under $100. There are calculations that help with this, and it encourages our partner shelters and rescue organizations to figure out how to get as many animals that will fit in each of the planes we use. For example, the Cessna 310 costs about $400/hr to operate, flies about 230mph, and can carry 11-15 crates (depending on size). If we fly 4 hours round trip (VA -> NC -> NJ -> VA), that’s a total of $1600 and we’d better be able to pack 16 animals in at once! How do we do that when we can fit a maximum of 15 crates? Well, we load up with either smaller animals (small dogs and cats) or we have one or more crates filled with mom & puppies. This works well because there are remarkably large numbers of puppies that have been abandoned, and these puppies are also most likely to be adopted and live out wonderful lives.

#5 Educating and informing is both a part of the desire to reduce the need for Amelia Air, as well as supporting Amelia Air. The more people who know they SHOULD get their dogs and cats spayed or neutered – the less likely for unexpected litters to be born and then abandoned. So we’ll continue to post and speak about the problems of over-population of pets and the value of rescues that offer free or reduced spay/neuter programs. And we’ll ALWAYS praise the rescues, shelters and foster homes for these animals on their way to a better, happy life.