Our Work: All articles

Landslides in Jackson County, NC 05-24-10
SouthWings pilots Hap Endler and Tom Komer flew 3 flights over landslides in Jackson County, NC to provide the aerial perspective on this issue for planning board members, county staff, and staff and board members of local nonprofits.

Tom Hutchings 05-24-10
In the extraordinary wake of the Gulf oil disaster, extraordinary people are selflessly contributing their time, resources and efforts to help and educate. SouthWings pilots, Tom Hutchings, Dan Luke, and Bob Kuehlthau are three of these people.

Featured Issue: Gulf Oil Disaster 04-29-10
Flying with the Gulf Restoration Network on Sunday, April 25, SouthWings Pilot Tom Hutchings took Aaron Viles, GRN Campaign Director, to look at the oil slick generated from the April 20th disastrous explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. The oil platform broke from the drilling pipe and sank. The pipe is exposed and spewing an estimated 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Featured Flight Partner: Little Tennessee Watershed Association 04-13-10
SouthWings was pleased to partner with the Little Tennessee Watershed Association for a flyover day on Friday, February 12, 2010. The flights focused on the issue of landslide hazard in regard to a steep slope development ordinance proposed in Macon County, NC.

Featured Pilot: Jack Lynch 04-02-10
SouthWings pilot Jack Lynch flew his first SouthWings flight with University of California, Berkeley, graduate student Rachel Edmonds and Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, Larry Baldwin, in eastern North Carolina on March 19th. The flight looked at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO's) for hog farms.

Save the Homosassa River Alliance 03-11-10
On February 26th SouthWings flew with the Save the Homosassa River Alliance (SHRA) out of Crystal River, FL as part of a Nature Coast meeting sponsored by the Gulf Restoration Network and SouthWings. The flight looked at several spots along the Nature Coast including a mangrove restoration that SHRA has done. One focus of the flight was freshwater springs which feed the coastal estuaries. See more pictures from the flight below from Athena Philips.

Gordon Arbeitman and Charles Metcalf 03-03-10
Gordon Arbeitman flew his flight in the Nature Coast of Florida on January 27 with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Aquatic Preserves Program. On February 20 SouthWings pilot Charles Metcalf flew with the Gulf Restoration Network in Mississippi to monitor the construction of a sewage treatment plant designed to spur new development at the expense of fixing hurricane Katrina damaged utilities.

Coal Ash 03-03-10
SouthWings has conducted six flights so far in 2010 on the issue of coal ash disposal in Perry Couny, AL. The ash originated from the TVA Kingston, TN environmental disaster in December 2008. At that time, over a billion gallons of coal ash stored near the TVA powerplant flooded into the local community after the earthen dam holding the material failed.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations 12-15-09
On November 16, 2009 SouthWings met with the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper, Larry Baldwin and Waterkeeper Alliance legend and attorney Rick Dove, both of the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation. SouthWings' Executive Director Will Callaway, Conservation Program Director Caroline Douglas and pilot Hap Endler flew with Rick Dove to monitor Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and to inform SouthWings staff about the issue.

Savannah Riverkeeper 12-15-09
On December 3rd SouthWings flew in Georgia with the Savannah Riverkeeper to look at compliance issues in the watershed and educate SouthWings' staffer Caroline Douglas about the Riverkeeper's work and cypress issues.

Evening Star Productions 11-12-09
SouthWings conducted flights for the producers of the movie, Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller of Evening Star Productions as well as the featured celebrities quoted on the website, Kathy Mattea, Ashley Judd, Daryl Hannah, Peter Horton and Woody Harrelson.

Amelia Reiheld, Jerry Kirby and Vernon Roberts 11-12-09
Amelia "Mimi" Reiheld conducted her first SouthWings flight on September 13, 2009 with The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina. Jerry Kirby conducted his first SouthWings flights on November 2, 2009 with the Gulf Restoration Network. Vernon Roberts conducted his first SouthWings flight in West Virginia on Saturday, November 7 with TV4 Sweden.

Mobile Manatees Sighting Network and Dauphin Island Sea Lab 09-16-09
On June 13 and September 4, 2009 SouthWings' pilot Dan Luke flew two flights with the Mobile Manatees Sighting Network, a project of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, to look for endangered manatees in coastal Alabama.

Tom Hutchings 09-15-09
Pilot Tom Hutchings from Montrose, AL flew an important flight with John Wathen, the Creekkeeper for Friends of Hurricane Creek, on August 13th to look at the Perry County Landfill in central Alabama near the little community of Uniontown, AL. This landfill is accepting coal ash for disposal from the TVA ash pond disaster last December 2008.

High Hazard Coal Ash Impoundments in NC 08-05-09
On July 25, 2009 SouthWings' pilot Hap Endler flew with the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in North Carolina to look at the health of the Catawba River watershed, including observation of unlined coal ash pits.

Woody Beck 08-04-09
On July 26, 2009 SouthWings pilot Woody Beck flew his first SouthWings flight with the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper (OCRK). Chandra Brown (Executive Director for OCRK) and attorney Don Stack of Stack and Associates flew to look at an area in middle Georgia.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy 08-04-09
On July 24, 2009 SouthWings flew with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) in North Carolina to observe SAHC-held conservation easement properties as part of their monitoring program. In particular the flight passengers - Hanni Muerdter (Stewardship and Conservation Planning Director) and Neal Maker (Stewardship AmeriCorps Intern) - were viewing properties to look for any alterations/changes to help determine if the conservation values of these tracts are being upheld.

Andy Meranda 06-04-09
Congratulations to Andy Meranda for his SouthWings flights with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) April 17 and May 8, 2009. The flights were in support of the NCWRC’s work to monitor breeding populations of herons and wading birds. The flights looked at development patterns to share information with local governments to enhance recommendations regarding wildlife habitat conservation and land use planning.

Gulf Gathering 06-04-09
On May 8th SouthWings flew six flights with pilots, David Mauritson and Dan Luke in support of the Gulf Restoration Network’s (GRN) Gulf Gathering Conference. The flights examined issues facing the Gulf including cypress logging for mulch, wetlands loss, increasing development and impacts from coal fired power plants.

Cypress Ecosystem Protection 06-04-09
The week of April 27th SouthWings’ staffer Caroline Douglas and volunteer pilot Hap Endler took a trip to Louisiana to learn more first-hand about cypress ecosystems from the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Dean Wilson. We visited Alligator Bayou.

GQ Magazine 06-04-09
SouthWings’ volunteer pilot Hap Endler flew with GQ Magazine's Sean Flynn (reporter) and Christopher Lamarca (photographer) on January 23, 2009 over the TVA ash spill site at Kingston, TN. Chris Irwin with United Mountain Defense also accompanied the flight. To provide context on coal and energy issues, the flight route included mountaintop removal mining sites near Zeb Mountain, TN and the wind farm at Buffalo Mountain, TN.

Mobile Baykeeper 03-18-09
On March 6th SouthWings flew with Mobile Baykeeper to look at a discharge from the McDuffie Coal Terminal run by the Alabama State Port Authority in Mobile, AL.

Dr. Jeff Justis 03-16-09
Congratulations to Dr. Jeff Justis for his SouthWings’ flight with the Ouachita Riverkeeper of Monroe, Louisiana on March 6, 2009. The flight focused on the cypress logging in central Louisiana.

More Trouble for Coal 03-16-09
In the first quarter of 2009 SouthWings has flown more than half a dozen flights related to mountaintop removal coal mining and coal related pollution in Tennessee and Alabama. We are experiencing unprecedented releases into the environment of toxic and hazardous materials related to the production of electricity from coal. After the Kingston Tennessee disaster in December of 2008 (see archived featured Issue: Coal’s Wakeup Call), SouthWings flew another, separate ash pond discharge into Widows Creek in Alabama in early January.

Nature Coast Coalition 03-16-09
On March 7th SouthWings sponsored with the Gulf Restoration Network, a Nature Coast Gathering attended by over 50 participants representing local, regional, and national conservation and environmental groups. The meeting in Gainesville, FL, was highlighted by two flights of the Nature Coast demonstrating three issues covered by the conference: conservation of intact habitat, threats from natural resources extraction in the form of aggregate mining and development pressures.

United Mountain Defense 01-30-09
On January 23rd, SouthWings’ pilot Hap Endler flew United Mountain Defense to look at the status on the TVA Kingston Plant ash spill, mountaintop removal coal mining at Zeb Mountain and the windmills at Buffalo Mountain.

Coal's Wake Up Call 12-30-08
On Christmas Day SouthWings flew with Appalachian Voices to look at the Tennessee Valley Authority's fly ash dam break that occurred on Monday, 12.22.08 in Roane County, Tennessee. The dam failure occurred at the Kingston Fossil Plant.

Smithsonian Magazine and BBC News 12-30-08
In January 2008 SouthWings flew with Smithsonian Magazine writer John McQuaid to provide him the aerial perspective on the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. On September 3, 2008, SouthWings flew photographer Paul Corbit Brown to obtain photos for the article.

Anita DeVillegas 12-30-08
Congratulations to Anita DeVillegas for her first SouthWings flight with the Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) of Gainesville, Florida on November 16, 2008. The flight focused on ACT’s conservation properties on the Nature Coast.

Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining 10-30-08
Mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR), a form of surface mining, involves an extreme topological change to the summit or ridge of a mountain. MTR uses explosives to remove up to 1,000 vertical feet of rock to reach coal seams. The resulting debris is usually dumped into adjacent valleys as waste valley fill. Controversy over the practice arises from the extreme topological and ecological changes that the mining site undergoes, as well as from the storage of waste materials produced from the mining and the processing of coal. The practice of MTR occurs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee and is a primary issue area for SouthWings flights.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Natural Resources Defense Council 10-30-08
On September 7th, actress Ashley Judd, author and musician Silas House, and community member Rully Urias shared a flight with SouthWings’ pilot Tom Komer to look at mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) in Eastern Kentucky. The flight was requested by SouthWings’ long-time flight partner, the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

SouthWings’ Fly-in 10-29-08
Fifteen of SouthWings’ pilots (more than half of the volunteer network) and their spouses joined staff in Chattanooga for the third annual SouthWings’ Fly-in on September 26 and 27. The two day event was highlighted by a wonderful catamaran boat tour with the Tennessee Aquarium through the Tennessee Gorge, a recognition ceremony for Executive Director Taylor Barnhill, and a picnic at the Lula Lake Land Trust.

James Agee Film Project 10-29-08
In August of 2007, SouthWings flew the James Agee Film Project to capture footage for Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People. Appalachia is a four-part documentary scheduled to be released on PBS in early 2009. The film includes both an environmental and cultural history of the region. The directors, Jamie Ross and Ross Spears, were recently featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to discuss the film.

Rainbow River Conservation, Withlacoochee Area Residents, and Save the Homosassa River Alliance 06-26-08
SouthWings' staff visited Crystal River, Florida on June 5, 2008. With pilots Roy Zimmer and Dave and Ruth Taisch, three flights were conducted for organizations working to protect the Nature Coast. Participants in the flights included Rainbow River Conservation, Withlacoochee Area Residents, and Save the Homosassa River Alliance.

Withlacoochee Area Residents (WAR) 06-26-08
Director Edward Michaels of WAR (pictured left) flew with pilots Dave and Ruth Taisch to look at a proposed aggregate mine site. WAR is committed to engaging community involvement to promote the common good of residents and responsible stewardship of regional water resources. For more information, visit the WAR website.

Florida Nature Coast Conservation 06-26-08
The Florida Nature Coast is comprised of nine counties on the Gulf Coast between Tallahassee and Tampa. It covers 980,000 acres, 200+ miles of coastline and more than 500,000 acres of national and state protected wildlife areas. SouthWings is working with the Gulf Restoration Network and several local organizations to support and promote conservation of the region.

Dave and Ruth Taisch 06-26-08
Pilots Dave and Ruth Taisch flew their first SouthWings flight in Florida with the Withlacoochee Area Residents (WAR). Dave and Ruth (above right) flew with WAR Board President Dan Hilliard, Director Edward Michaels and SouthWings staffer Caroline Douglas. Learn more about Dave and Ruth on their Dossier.