Sky Hope Network, a new nonprofit organization, has been established in the wake of the business aviation industry’s volunteer response to the Haiti earthquake. Founded and headed by Robin Eissler, previously a key member of the aviation response group Corporate Aircraft Responding to Emergencies (C.A.R.E., now known as AERObridge), which helped marshal more than 800 volunteer flights in the weeks following the January disaster, the new organization will concentrate on three main areas of activity.
Similar to AERObridge, Sky Hope Network will coordinate business aviation relief flights during disasters, but as a full-time charity it will provide coordination and referrals of flight requests for urgent or emergency situations through its own aircraft network or by working with other flight charity organizations.
“After we evaluated all the charity flight groups, we found some areas that were lacking and incorporated Sky Hope Network with the goal of filling these gaps,” Eissler told AIN. “For instance, there is no charity flight group available to carry patients needing treatment, who are non-cancer patients, long distances.”
The last area of concern for the group is in offering emergency assistance, both flight- and non-flight related, for people in the business aviation community, which Eissler hopes will enable the Georgetown, Texas-based Sky Hope Network to “be a vehicle to help our peers in the industry during their time of need.” Such assistance could take the form of donated hotel points or airline miles.
In addition to Eissler, who serves as the group’s president and chairman along with her role as vice president of aircraft brokerage firm Jet Quest, the other founding members include Eric Zipkin, president, Tradewind Aviation; Sean Anthony, Windsor Jet Management’s director of maintenance; Janet Bressler, president of AOPA Insurance Agency; and Jo Damato, NBAA’s director of operations and educational development.
Combined, the group, which has wide-ranging industry experience from flight operations to risk management, believes it can help improve business aviation’s response to crisis. “I have found over and over again that the resources are available, but without someone acting as the passenger’s advocate and championing momentum, the assets rarely get coordinated,” said Eissler.