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Wings of Hope Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

By Ric Reynolds, News Editor, EAA 642317
Wings of Hope
A Cessna 206 restored and customized by Wings of Hope volunteers

March 17, 2011 — Wings of Hope, the world’s largest and oldest volunteer aviation charity, announced this week that it has been nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Headquartered just off Spirit of St. Louis Airport (KSUS) in Chesterfield, Missouri, Wings of Hope serves every continent (except Antarctica) focusing strictly on humanitarian endeavors that deliver programs to provide for peace and hope. It has more than 3,000 volunteers serving 153 bases in 45 countries throughout the world, including 550 in St. Louis alone. Their efforts help more than a million people each year.

“This is a great honor to all of our volunteers and donors,” said Douglas Clements, president. “They are the ones who see the humanity of our fellow men and who seek to extend the hand of human kindness to them.”

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five, chosen by the Norwegian body. A short list will be compiled by the end of March, with the Laureate (recipient) selected by late fall, Clements said.

Wings of Hope was formed by four St. Louis businessmen in 1962 to provide a metal airplane as a replacement for a worn-out fabric-covered aircraft being used for medical flights in Kenya. Today its fleet exceeds 140 aircraft, mostly donated, which are meticulously restored and customized for specific uses by volunteers at the Wings of Hope hangar at KSUS. Many of the volunteers are retirees from McDonnell-Douglas and Boeing.

Aviation helps the organization perform a variety of humanitarian aid efforts that implement “poverty reduction strategies” in its served regions, said Vice President Michele Rutledge, one of the organization’s five paid staff members.

“We’re experiencing 20 percent annual growth,” she said, noting an ambitious plan to establish a base in Vietnam to provide health care, eradicate land mines and toxins like Agent Orange, and other services. Pilots, A&P mechanics, medical professionals, and administrative personnel are all volunteers. The organization’s aircraft also provide flights for Doctors Without Borders, a past Nobel Prize recipient, to deliver medical care services worldwide.

Wings of Hope participated in the Fly for Life program at EAA AirVenture 2009, which recognized and celebrated the good works of organizations providing public benefit aviation services throughout the world.

For more information about Wings of Hope, click here.

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