LightHawk

Rating: 4.94 stars   17 reviews

Issues: Environment

Location: PO Box 653 Lander WY 82520 USA

Mission: LightHawk''s mission is the champion environmental protection through the unique perspective of flight. Our goal is to mobilize enough volunteer pilots, aircraft and resources to help tip the balance toward sustainability for every major environmental issue within our targeted areas of focus. LightHawk helps to address environmental issues through: *Educational flights over contested landscapes to convert abstract proposals into something passengers can grasp. We know from experience that when decision-makers see the big picture from above, it has a powerful ability to transcend all personal ideologies, change hearts and minds, build commitment, and lead to action. *Technical flights are often the only practical way to obtain objective data on patterns of human and wildlife use. Technical flights include aerial photography, scientific data-gathering, wildlife surveys, and ground-truthing data obtained from satellites, high-altitude photography, or computer modeling. All  flights are donated by our corps of volunteer pilots.
Programs: LightHawk's environmental programs are organized along geographic boundaries: the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, the Rocky Mountains, and Mesoamerica; we also fly limited missions east of the Rockies and in the Caribbean. The issues we address through our flights range, literally, from flamingos to nuclear power, supporting efforts focused on forests, coastal and ocean conditions, deserts and grasslands, and urban and industrial issues. Our partners range from small community organizations with no paid staff to U.S. and foreign government agencies and international NGOs. Our field staff works with our partners to educate and support them on the often complex logistics and preparation required to produce safe, high quality flights with maximum impact.The diverse types of missions we fly include guided educational flights for passengers who may be local villager leaders or members of Congress; media flights for reporters, photographers and filmmakers working on environmental stories; technical flights to support scientists working on habitat and species surveys; and surveillance flights that help document environmental crimes and land use conditions.
2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 84-0852104
307-332-3242
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I started as a volunteer for LH in 1997, then worked awhile on staff, then on the board, and now back to being a volunteer. The mission is unparalleled in its ability to lend a very powerful leveraging tool to any number of environmental campaigns -- but in addition to the tool, the system of having a program manager work to really focus the assistance of LH to the environmental partner lends a value to their work far beyond "just an airplane flight." this is a highly professional organization that prides itself on figuring out how to make a difference, and whose work is much more broad than the flight itself. They are a powerful planning service, and can give a tremendous ROI for both funders and nonprofit partners. Can't recommend them enough.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, California, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have more volunteer pilots, more program staff (and more funding!)

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

The aerial view is an incredible, but expensive, tool in the understanding of complex landscape issues, and Lighthawk is a truly amazing organization that makes this tool available, at no cost, to conservation organizations throughout North and Central America.

I am a lifelong conservationist, and a trained hydrologist/geomorphologist, yet I credit the aerial view as being both the cornerstone of my conservation ethic, and the foundation of my understanding of complex landscape processes. Consequently, as soon as I first learned about Lighthawk I became dedicated to joining as a volunteer pilot.

In addition to providing pilots and aircraft to important conservation efforts Lighthawk gives me (and nearly 200 other pilots nationwide), the opportunity to make truly significant contributions to the preservation of habitat and ecosystems.

Mission coordination is accomplished by an amazing staff of regional program directors who review flight requests, pair them with appropriate pilots, and inform the pilots and passengers of the important details about the mission.

I have flown about 230 flight hours on 50 Lighthawk missions providing an aerial vantage point to conservation photographers, journalists, filmmakers, state legislators, tribal leaders, ranchers, scientists, and advocates. I remain convinced that Lighthawk is as effective as a conservation organization can be in breadth, depth, and efficient use of resources.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...Helping legislators, tribal leaders, affected landowners, and conservation partners see, document and understand the scale and extent of oil and gas development. ...Providing an aerial photography platform for conservation photographers documenting pristine and impacted ecosystems, wildlife migrations, Wild and Scenic River designations. ...Giving aerial tours to media, foundation representatives, and legislators so they could better understand regional landscape and community issues.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Lighthawk is exceptionally well organized and efficient, the staff seems universally satisfied and motivated, and they are very good and demonstrating their appreciation for the efforts of the volunteer pilots. I would fly more if I could afford to--if only someone could come up with a clever way to contribute to the expenses of volunteer pilots...

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

I'm a retired Delta Air Lines pilot and have flown for Light Hawk for 7 years. I used to say, boy, if the people making decision could see what I see from the air, they would do things differently. Now I'm flying at 1000 feet above the ground instead of 30,000 feet and both my passengers and I get to experience the unique perspective of environmental issues from the air. Whether it's photo journalists or decision makers that come along, they all walk away with a greater sense of the big picture; how the landscape ties together and how important it is to see that bigger picture vs. just focusing on their own area of interest. I've flown all over Colorado and even made a trip up to the Three Rivers area of the NE Yukon to help the First Nation tribe decide what should be set aside for mining and what should be preserved. Just as my passengers do, I learn from every flight and I am happy to donate my time, my airplane and pay for all the expenses. It is my opportunity to give back and to make a difference in the health of our planet. I'm proud to be a part of an organization that operates out of virtual offices, for the most part, to maximize the dollars contributed while arranging flights for our environmental partners.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Environmental issues some times take years to play out. However, I've seen an unwise development stopped in its tracks at the top of Wolf Creek pass and seen the Klamath River accord come to fruition.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

No changes are needed. Doing the right thing in the right way.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

I joined LightHawk as a volunteer pilot in 2008. I have met--and flown--professional photographers, land trust managers, congressional staffers, ranchers, biologists and other just plain interesting folks who are trying to better understand a land issue. Without exception, I have learned from them, and in turn each of them has had that OMG! sort of moment during the flight. Getting a bit of elevation, seeing the relationships of ground features, and absorbing the larger view seems to be of great help in how they get back to work on their particular projects. That's really fun for me.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My "direct" returns are in the enthusiasm of my passengers after our flights. Beyond that, seeing the published pictures that I helped capture, hearing of a legislative step to protect our environment, and knowing I got to be a part of something worthwhile are great bonus rewards for doing the fun part, which is the flying---with a purpose.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Spread the word to more partners. There is so much that should be done.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

California recently created a string of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along its coastline. There was a years-long and often emotional struggle between commercial and recreational fishermen and environmentalists over where these MPAs would be established. I was able to contribute in multiple ways to the decision making process through LightHawk flights. I conducted several LightHawk flights carrying reporters and photographers from local media (newspaper & TV) over the areas being considered. Each of these fights resulted in reports that gave the public well-balanced views of the issues. I also conducted flights for stakeholders over their specific areas of concern so they could get a better overview of the areas they were considering. And I conducted flights over a two year period for biologists collecting data that was made available to those involved in the decision making process.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I love sharing the beauty of flight with people who are concerned for our environment. It is gratifying to see and hear the amazed responses of those who have never seen their world from this perspective. Flight is a very useful tool when trying to convince a legislative representative to support a bill to preserve a wilderness area. The environment also benefits from those flights that educate media representatives who then write balanced reports about environmental issues.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would like to see LightHawk continue to grow.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

I am a volunteer pilot for Lighthawk. I have been an environmental activist all of my adult life, and have worked with many of the better-known (and several not-so-well-known) organizations. Lighthawk has what I consider to be a brilliant approach (pardon the pun) which allows it to maximize the inclusion of volunteers from an incredibly broad range of the political/environmental spectrum. The volunteers are typically donating very high-value items such as aircraft use, fuel, and pilot time. This focus on having the high-cost items donated helps maximize the amount of work that the organization can accomplish with a given amount of funds. Lighthawk seems to be very professionally and efficiently run, making good use of modern technology and organizational practices. The volunteer experience is excellent, and from what I have seen, the same is true for the partners who benefit from Lighthawk's services.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Not sure what this field is meant for. I made a few guesses below: Location? North and Central America Type or Work? Environmentalism

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way so that fuel costs could be donated by third parties, so that the pilots who donate their time and aircraft could afford to donate more flights to the organization.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

I'm a pilot for several non-profit organizations volunteering my time, fuel and airplane in support of their missions. LightHawk is one of the most efficient, organized groups with which I'm associated. I believe their website most accurately portrays their mission: “LightHawk is a volunteer-based environmental aviation organization that provides donated flights to make the aerial perspective freely available to conservation groups.” There's a tremendous amount of preparation and coordination involved in making each mission successful. The Program Managers do an excellent job of insuring that the mission objective is clear and that my passengers are briefed on the limitations of the pilot and the airplane.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As a result of countless aerial surveys arranged and coordinated by LightHawk, the members of California’s Fish and Game Commission voted to set aside small areas of the ocean between Point Conception, near Santa Barbara, and the Mexico border as sanctuaries protected from human interference. These Marine Protected Areas allow sea life to recover and thrive and will actually increase fish stocks for future generations.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I honestly can't think of anything that I would change. LightHawk is a well-run, efficient organization that I'm proud to be a part of.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

LIghthawk is one of the most effective conservation organizations, giving a bird's eye view of the issues on the ground, and continually finding a win-win solution for all partners involved. I have been a volunteer pilot for Lighthawk for almost 15 years, and the number of partners who have participated in these flights have found inspiration to preserve our wild land and to resolve the problems of almost any issue.
I will continue to volunteer my "wings" to assist with reaching the Lighthawk mission.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

In National Forest issues in retiring Grazing Allotments, preserving wild lands, determining solutions for water issues in the state of Wyoming. Researching wildlife migration corridors to determine future development. Explore the impacts of gas and oil drilling in the Wyoming area. Locate a missing radio collared hawk.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would make no changes to the present administration and their mission of Lighthawk. The current Director, Rudy Engholm, has been amazing in his determination to grow Lighthawk, and to make this the finest organization out there, often making personal sacrifices to reach these goals. If only all organizations could be run like Lighthawk!

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a Lighthawk volunteer pilot for over 10 yrs. I have very limited resources for donating to non-profit organizations. The single most effective donation I can make is to support Lighthawk by flying volunteer missions. I donate my plane, pilot time, and expenses so that Lighthawk can be just a little more effective. Lighthawk is a very efficient, focused conservation organization that has improved exponentially in the past few years. I am proud to be a small part of a powerful force in saving our world.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

On every flight. I see the results from the reactions of our conservation partners after we land. I also see results from images published in the media and the changes in environmental issues that are direct results of our flights.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find more funding. I know that Lighthawk is doing all they can in that respect but to have a better funded organization is always a goal.

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