Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team got its start performing air rescue missions. The air team is the first line of defense in rescuing animals. Able to plan and execute missions in a quick and timely manner, the air team is the used for missions where time is critical and animals are in dire jeopardy. The Air Team has flown over 200 sorties over the last few years with trips as far as Florida. When the call goes out to the pilots the responses come in immediately. The planes are in a constant state of readiness, able to deploy often times within hours of getting a call.
PAART maintains a small fleet of available aircraft. The teams primary workhorses are a Piper Saratoga PA32R-301T, which the team likes to use for missions that require us to get there fast and carry larger loads, and a Cessna 182. The Saratoga is a high performance retractible gear aircraft with upgraded advanced avionics. Most of the technology available inside the Saratoga is the same as you would find in the airlines. With an advanced flight deck, in flight weather reporting, and a crushing speed of close to 200mph, the Saratoga is our go to rescue workhorse in the sky. The Cessna 182 is widely considered as a flying SUV . With its large payload capacity and stable airframe, the 182 is a multipurpose workhorse that makes up the backbone of our air support mission. Along with these planes, PAART has access to a few other planes capable of transporting multiple animals at a time. When the team deploys all of the aircraft we can safely and efficiently transport up to 30 animals in one multi-plane trip.
The Air Team’s range is only limited to the funding we can devote to each mission and the time we have for the pilots. Typically these missions run around $50 per dog. The expense is tied to the current costs of AVGAS (100LL) which runs around $5/gallon. The planes burn on average about 15/gallons per hour. A mission that goes 500 miles round trip can cost in the $200 to $300 dollar range depending on aviation factors like wind direction, altitude, and weight. On average, a pilot can sit for roughly three hours before needing a “biological” break that includes stretching or relieving ones self. Most of our missions depart around 8am and return around 2pm. Sometimes there are multiple stops along the way.
The PAART fleet is based out of Allegheny County Airpots (KAGC) in West Mifflin, PA. The team receives tremendous support and resources from both the airport staff and the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) on the field, Corporate Air. The folks at Corporate Air have been instrumental in helping the PAART pilots quickly and efficiently fuel up and service the air fleet.