Volunteering opportunities in aviation
Volunteering is a great way to get to know more of your local community, learn new skills and give back to a worthy cause. There are plenty of aviation-based volunteer opportunities available around the UK and most require little experience to get involved.
Air ambulances respond to time-critical emergencies and can often be the difference in saving someone’s life. As a great example of how pilots can use their skills to help others, I chose to provide my time to the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) as an events and fundraising volunteer. Supporting this charity struck a personal chord, having had a friend airlifted from a serious accident while at work. SCAA was based upon the famous Royal Flying Doctor Service which aids outback communities in Australia. It is a concept which works extremely well in my home country of Scotland due to the terrain and rural islands. While there are currently only two charity helicopter rescues here, there are many rotary and fixed wing air ambulances around the UK. It is worth researching in your own area to find which airports they are based from and which roles they require help with.
Civil Air Patrol
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) provides free aerial support to communities and is currently in need of liaison volunteers to find sorties for them. For those of you with a PPL, you could also become an observer or pilot with CAP. Based in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the team provides observation and reporting on issues such as traffic situations, flooding, wildfires and wildlife distribution. They also assist with searches for vulnerable missing people, and help with aerial photography, surveying, and courier services such as the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 testing kits. Using dual control aircraft, observers must already possess their PPL, giving you the airmanship, awareness and ability to act as a safety pilot. Training is usually provided for such skills as observation and photography. Minimum requirements as a pilot would be 200 hours, and either owning or having a share in an aircraft to allow short-notice availability.
Inspiring the next generation
If you are interested in inspiring the next generation of female pilots then the Aviatrix Project is a great option and works in partnership with the BWPA. Likewise, you could sign up to your local Air Cadet squadron as an adult volunteer. It is desirable to have experience working with young people, however training is provided which can help you achieve more qualifications whilst being involved in teaching and encouraging the younger generation. It is also an opportunity to develop your leadership qualities, team working ability and take on a higher level of responsibility.
With more focus on the environment and how our love of flying is affecting the atmosphere, there are environmental preservation groups dedicated to tree planting. Trees for Cities, the Tree Council, Trees for Life and the Woodland Trust are all examples of organisations which support restoring and protecting woods and tree plantations. Being involved is not only a great form of exercise but also helps balance out our CO2 emissions to reduce our carbon footprint. You can also use Ecosia, a free internet search engine which uses profits from your searches to plant trees across the globe.
If you have spare time and would like to take on a new challenge, then do get involved in one of these rewarding volunteer projects. Not only do you get to help other people and contribute to a good cause, but you never know where these opportunities may lead for you in the future.