Ever wish you could make a major difference, but just don’t have the time?  Or maybe the money?

Then consider partnering with us in Air Guardian!  The following FAQ will give you an idea of what the organization is about, and at the bottom of the page, you can see how you can be a part.

What is Air Guardian?

In February 2011 Todd & Missy Billingsley moved back to the States from Italy to launch a new non-profit organization called Air Guardian.  Air Guardian removes the obstacle of transportation for those with medical and financial crises.  The non-profit organization will raise financial resources to assist volunteer pilots in providing free air transportation in private aircraft so children and adults may access life-saving medical care.

Who flies on flights supported by Air Guardian?

Patients who are usually traveling for surgery, chemotherapy, dialysis, and other treatments.  For many, this is the most frightening and critical time of their lives.  Approximately 50% of the patients are children, suffering from life-threatening cancer, severe burns or crippling diseases.  Air Guardian also transports blood products for the Red Cross in emergency situations.

How did you end up doing this?

Through a blending of experiences and passions.  Missy had a ferocious bout with cancer––which took her leg, and almost her life––and experienced firsthand how difficult and painful commercial travel can be when one is critically ill.  Flying on the other hand has been a life-long passion for Todd since living a block north of the Miami International Airport as a young boy.

The need was discovered inadvertantly in the Billingsley’s own lives.  One of Missy’s doctors was over a hundred miles away, which would have required a three-hour drive.  With the Billingsley’s base airport being three miles from their home, and the doctor’s office only a half-mile from the nearest airport, travel time was cut to one hour.  The Billingsleys then began offering help to other friends needing transportation to medical treatments.

“We’ve been blessed with Missy surviving her bout with cancer,” says Todd Billingsley, “and we’ve been blessed with fulfilled dreams that we once thought were dead.  Plus, we’ve been blessed to do the things we love to do.  So Missy and I decided, ‘let’s give something back to those who really need it.’”

Combining a passion with a dire need, Todd and Missy began volunteering to fly compassion flights.  With 80-100 requests for travel assistance each week, the Billingsleys created Air Guardian to provide an opportunity for others to pitch in and help as well.

How is Air Guardian financially supported?

Currently, the Billingsleys cover the cost of these compassion flights.  As Air Guardian comes into existence, the primary source of funding will be derived from proceeds generated by Todd’s production company, which will become a subsidiary corporation of Air Guardian.  Proceeds from the sales of products such as Run to Win, which tells the inspiring story of Missy’s fight with cancer will go to Air Guardian.  A portion of Missy’s story shares how her travel from Miami to New York, Boston and Gainesville, FL for surgeries and treatments were difficult, and often painful, ordeals.

Support will also be received through contributions from individuals, service clubs, social and religious groups and corporations. No financial aid is received from any government entity.

Who pays for an Air Guardian flight?

Air Guardian covers all the expenses––fuel costs, landing fees, ramp fees, car rental––associated with a flight mission.  Neither patients or health care providers are ever charged fees of any kind.

How does Air Guardian operate?

Air Guardian is filing for status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  It will also be a member of the Air Care Alliance and work in tandem with Angel Flight.  Angel Flight operates as a “match-maker” for patients and volunteer pilots, and Air Guardian picks up where Angel Flight leaves off by covering the expense of the flight.  Angel Flight contacts Air Guardian with a flight request, and the expenses associated with all accepted flight missions (i.e. fuel costs, landing fees, ramp fees, car rental or taxi, etc.) are covered by Air Guardian.

Is the pilot of an Air Guardian flight paid?

No, all pilots are required by FAA regulations to volunteer their time.

Why don’t patients simply fly airlines?

They do when feasible, and several airlines such as JetBlue offer invaluable assistance to patients.  However, there are reasons and situations where airlines don’t fit the bill:

  1. The patient may have compromised immune systems, so they don’t want to be in an enclosed airliner with a hundred or so other people. 

  2. The patient lives in a rural area where driving to the airport is a difficult ordeal itself.  General aviation aircraft may possibly get closer to their homes than the airlines can.  Scheduled airline flights take place in only 600 airports in the United States while General Aviation aircraft are capable of flying in and out of 5,300 airports nationwide.

  3. The ordeal of security screening at commercial airports stressful and time-consuming.  The patient can also endure rough and sometimes humiliating treatment by screeners unfamiliar with their medical condition. 

Flying on flights supported by Air Guardian, the patient arrives at a small airport with no crowds, walks straight to the plane, and is in the air in the matter of minutes.  In most cases, the patient has already arrived at their destination in the same amount of time it would have taken to simply check in and clear security screening at a commercial airport.

How can I help?

Air Guardian is fully entrenched in the start-up phase, but flight missions are already happening. 

There are 4 possible things you can do right now:

  1. 1.With every 10 Run to Win books that are sold, the cost of an Air Guardian flight mission is covered.  So the first thing you can do is shoot us your email address to keep you posted of the Run to Win release.  Then, of course, buy the book when we send the release email.  Click here to stay posted.

  2. 2.Consider being a Squadron Leader once the book releases.  A Squadron Leader simply shares with 10 of his or her friends via social networks about the book (a video trailer and other goodies will be available for you to share).  Once 10 books are sold, an Air Guardian flight mission is covered.  For more info on Squadron Leaders, email me.

  3. 3.Consider becoming a Groundcrew member.  Groundcrews create care packages for patients during their flights.  These packages can contain greeting cards or notes of encouragement from the groundcrew, fruits, home-baked snacks, and small toys.  For more info on Groundcrews, email me.

  4. 4.Consider being a host for a Run to Win event.  We are quickly approaching the planning stages for these events that will take place in 10 cities over the course of a year.  If interested, please email me!

Regarding financial donations, Air Guardian is not quite ready to accept those yet.  The organization is currently filing for non-profit status.

Financial support is only one need.  We will have many more as we initiate in the process of officially launching Air Guardian.  If the mission of this organization resonates with you, we would absolutely love for you to partner with us.

Areas of need are:

  1. Assistance with formation of the corporations.

  2. Administrative assistance.

  3. Graphic art/design.

  4. Web design & programming.

  5. Volunteer development.

Air Guardian Preparing for Take Off

Photo courtesy of Angel Flight

Photo courtesy of Angel Flight

Photo courtesy of Angel Flight

Photo courtesy of Angel Flight

Missy & Todd Billingsley

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