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Pilot Picks Up Endangered Animal on the Way to Oshkosh
LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Helps Black-footed Ferret,
Brings It to New Home On the Way to EAA AirVenture

This year, LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Michael Baum of Los Altos, CA made an interesting stop on his way to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. The self-described aviation enthusiast made a special detour to Centennial, Colorado (KAPA) to begin a flight mission donated for LightHawk. Baum touched down on his way to AirVenture in order to load an endangered black-footed ferret into his TBM 700 airplane bound for Oshkosh, WI.

The flight was made possible by LightHawk, a non-profit group who provides volunteer opportunities for pilots. LightHawk’s volunteer pilots donate missions benefiting communities and wildlife by accelerating conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight. Baum flew his wild passenger to the North Eastern Wisconsin (NEW) Zoo near Green Bay, WI.

"Transport by commercial airline is very stressful for wild animals," explains Carmen Murach, curator of animals for the NEW Zoo. "Airlines require that the animals arrive well in advance of their flights. They often spend significant amounts of time in non-temperature controlled, noisy cargo areas. There is just no way to explain to the animals that they are not in danger during this ordeal. The black-footed ferrets transported by Michael Baum are spared frightening noises and uncomfortable conditions.”

Black-footed ferrets travel in small plastic dog crates. Baum was not responsible for in-flight snacks.

Just as this was not Baum’s first trip to EAA AirVenture, this wasn’t the first time he’d flown black-footed ferrets. In February 2012, Baum was joined by his teenage daughter when he embarked on a flight to move endangered animals to a new home. (Read more about this flight here.) He also piggybacked on his Oshkosh journey in 2013 to bring a pair of ferrets to the NEW Zoo.

“I can’t think of a better way to leverage an annual AirVenture migration," remarked Baum after the flight. “Knowing there is often no viable alternative to a donated LightHawk flight to transport these endangered animals is very gratifying to me. It underscores that pilots who volunteer with LightHawk are truly making a difference.”

Bringing the black-footed ferret population back from a startling low of 18 individuals to a more sustainable number is not just good for the ferrets, it’s inextricably tied to restoring the American Prairie. The black-footed ferret is considered a flagship species for the North American prairie. By helping these animals, a beneficial ripple extends to over 130 unique plants and animals, a lasting legacy for future generations.

LightHawk can be found at EAA AirVenture Hangar B booth 2110.

About LightHawk
Founded in 1979, LightHawk is a non-profit with a network of about 200 volunteer pilots. LightHawk works in partnership with conservation organizations providing flight campaigns that promote informed decision-making, foster dialogue and build consensus, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of conservation action. LightHawk pursues its mission to accelerate conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight across North and Central America.
For more information, visit

Contact: Bev Gabe
LightHawk Communications Manager

image: LightHawk Volunteer Pilot Michael Baum with black-footed ferrets he transported to the NEW Zoo in 2013. [ home ]

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