'Night Flights' raises about $14,000 for charity

Local helicopter firm, Flying Lions team up
People wait in line at the Juneau International Airport for a $30 helicopter ride over the Mendenhall Valley on Friday evening. The "Christmas Light Night Flights" event raised a record-setting $14,000 for charity.

Coastal Helicopters and the Mendenhall Flying Lions Club raised a record-setting figure during Friday’s ‘Christmas Light Night Flights’ fundraiser.


Neil Atkinson, the project organizer for the Lions Club, says about 470 people turned out for the $30 helicopter rides over the Mendenhall Valley, which raised about $14,100.

“It was an awesome turnout,” Atkinson said.

Three helicopters chartered a total of 81 flights to and from the airport from about 4:30 p.m. to a little after 9 p.m. Passengers could see the glimmer of the glacier and the Christmas lights on the houses below during the roughly 10-minute flight.

Pilot Dustin Carroll said they would have kept flying later into the night, but they wanted to be neighborly and not disturb residents at night. It was the first year they had to turn people away who were waiting at the airport, but “we got most people that came through,” Carroll said.

Half the proceeds from the event go to the helicopter company, which donates all the money to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a nonprofit which seeks treatments and cures for Neurofibromatosis.

The other half of the proceeds goes to the Lions Club for their Sight Projects Fund. The club provides vision screening for children and students in Southeast Alaska to detect pediatric eye disorders.

Last year, the event raised somewhere between $9,200 to $9,5000.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.


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