Frequently Asked Questions


We are an aviation nonprofit delivering humanitarian programs around the globe to lift people in need toward health and self-sufficiency. We do this by providing access – to health care, resources and support. We envision a world in which all people have access to the resources they need to create a better life.
Yes. Our roots are in aviation. Our very first project stemmed from an aviation need and our current projects continue to use planes to deliver medical care to people or transport people to medical care. In the past we have been involved in non-aviation related projects, but we now feel that our ability to provide meaningful impact centers around our aviation expertise. For these reasons, we are focused on projects with an aviation component.

Wings of Hope operates with a very small paid staff and a very large volunteer base. This enables us to spend at least 90 cents of every dollar directly on programming. We are always looking for volunteer pilots, nurses and medics to support our MAT Program. But you don’t have to be a pilot to help us. We use volunteers in administrative roles (answering the phone, stuffing envelopes, data entry, etc.) and to help with special events. We use volunteers with special skills like accounting, finance and marketing to support our fundraising efforts. We even use volunteers to keep our hangar and grounds looking great. If you would like to volunteer with us, just give us a call at 636-537-1302.

Medical Relief & Air Transport (MAT) Program

Not exactly. Angel Flight uses volunteer pilots to provide free flights to those who need to reach medical care — but that is where the similarity ends. At Wings of Hope, we have a team of highly trained volunteer pilots who fly our Wings of Hope-owned aircraft, specially equipped to accommodate stretchers and medical equipment. At Angel Flight and similar organizations, the volunteer pilots use their own private planes to fly patients. (In order to fly in these planes, patients must be ambulatory and able to sit upright.) Also, we are much more than a medical air transport charity. From the moment we receive a call for help, we coordinate all transportation – then we continue to transport the patient to care for as long as it takes to achieve the best possible outcome. We also provide ground transportation to and from treatment and pay to house patients’ families near the treatment facility, when necessary.

When we fly a patient in one of our aircraft, we have a 500 to 900 mile radius from our headquarters in St. Louis because this is the distance our planes can fly without stopping to refuel. In rare instances, we will exceed this distance by making a pit stop to refuel on the way.

We have three planes dedicated to the MAT Program: one Navajo and two Piper Senecas. Each is equipped to accommodate a stretcher, a wheelchair and medical equipment. We maintain these planes to strict safety standards, using a team of paid and volunteer mechanics. We can proudly state that we have a 100% safety record transporting patients to care.

Any individual who needs to reach specialized medical care, but cannot access that care — either due to financial reasons or reasons related to their illness that prevent them from traveling via car or flying in a commercial aircraft. We evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis.

The majority of our MAT patients are children, but we do transport adults. Some common cases are:

  • Babies with clubfeet and cleft palates
  • Children with rare forms of cancer and immune disorders who cannot fly commercially due to their compromised immune systems
  • Individuals with rare diseases that require specialty care not available near their homes

There is no limit to the types of conditions our patients have. The common denominator is that they lack access to the care they need to heal and to hope. We use our MAT Program to provide them that access.

Yes. Sometimes, it makes more sense to fly a patient commercially. When a patient is able to fly commercially, it is almost always less expensive than using our planes. That said, many of our patients are not able to fly commercially due to their illness (i.e., cannot sit upright, immune system compromised). Also, flying patients in our MAT planes accommodates a much more flexible timetable than flying commercially would allow. This means we can fly patients to and from treatment on a shortened timetable — decreasing the time they spend traveling and the time their loved ones spend away from work and family responsibilities.

Absolutely nothing. Our MAT Program services are completely free — operating at no cost to patients, insurance companies or taxpayers.

Global Programs

Currently, we are active in eight countries outside of the U.S.: Belize, Cambodia, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. Since our founding in 1963, we have worked in over 50 countries.

We support programming in many different areas, but generally have projects that focus on improvements within the public health sector. Due to the redirection in our strategic plan, all of our projects going forward will involve aviation.
Generally, we will receive a request from an already established organization that is capable of supporting an aircraft and who is well-established within the community that they serve. The programs department will evaluate each request that comes to us. Unfortunately, we cannot respond favorably to every request. In fact, we must decline many more than we accept. When we do partner with a new organization, we first make sure that the program aligns with our mission and then that we have the resources to support its success. Just as important, we confirm that the project truly meets the needs and wants of the community in order to ensure its sustainability and vitality.


five-week, hands-on STEM learning experience that provides high school students project-based learning, connections to STEM curriculum; and a front-row seat into the workings of a global aviation nonprofit using airplanes to change and save lives.

The course is open to high school students who are interested in exploring career paths in aviation and understanding how aviation is used in humanitarian work. The program mission is to provide equitable access to aviation and STEM education, with a focus on serving students from under-served and underrepresented communities.

Experienced STEM educators, working and retired professionals representing a wide range of aviation and STEM-related experience — and Wings of Hope volunteers, many of whom are trained pilots and mechanics.

Students participate in high energy and engaging STEM and aviation project-based activities, enriched by a series of expert presentations. Highlights include:

  • Hands-on maintenance, repair and modification of an airplane
  • Experiencing a flight simulator
  • Piloting a small-engine aircraft (closely supervised by a certified flight instructor)
  • Piloting a drone through an obstacle course
  • Access to industry experts, including guest speakers from Boeing, Wings of Hope pilots and others sharing career-path information

Wings of Hope’s world headquarters in Chesterfield and other locations on the Spirit of St. Louis Airport grounds.

The connection between an aviation nonprofit and a STEM program for students may not seem obvious – but it makes perfect sense to us for two reasons:

  1. We rely on highly skilled volunteer pilots and mechanics to fly our missions and keep our planes safe. This makes the predicted pilot and mechanic shortage especially troubling to us. By turning students on to careers in aviation, we are doing our part to start filling the pipeline with future pilots and mechanics.
  2. Students work on airplanes destined for use in the Wings of Hope mission field. That’s where we connect STEM learning to service learning – and show students how what they’re learning in the classroom can make a difference in the world.

Check out the SOAR into STEM page or call 636-537-1302. School districts can apply for SOAR into STEM partnership or field trips, classroom visits, and other educational opportunities.

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