Celebrating the Life of Wanda Whitsitt

LifeLine Pilots celebrates the life of Wanda Whitsitt, the founder of LifeLine Pilots, who passed away on Sunday, June 4, 2023. For 91 years, Wanda lived her life based on the three Fs: Family, Faith, and Flying. Click here to read Wanda’s obituary.

We welcome you to share any stories of meeting Wanda, working with her, or flying during her time at the helm of the organization. Your stories can be emailed to missions@lifelinepilots.org and we will share them with her family and the LifeLine Pilots supporters. We also welcome any photos you have to share.

Wanda’s Impact on Charitable Aviation

In 1981, Wanda founded LifeLine Pilots, a non-profit that coordinates free air transportation, through volunteer pilots, for passengers with medical or humanitarian needs far from home. Flying a Piper Archer named Sweet Charley, Wanda and a handful of pilots made life-saving trips in the early years of LifeLine Pilots.

Wanda is a pioneer in public benefit flying and a history-maker in her own right. The organization she founded, LifeLine Pilots, is thought to be the oldest volunteer pilot organization of its kind. A longtime member of the Air Care Alliance, LifeLine Pilots has served as a model for many public benefit flying organizations around the country.

The charitable aviation movement that Wanda began in 1981 now has more than 12,400 volunteer pilots flying for a dozen regional volunteer pilot organizations, like LifeLine Pilots. Collectively they help 4,100 people a year access life-changing medical care far from home.

A longtime supporter of LifeLine Pilots said, “It is not so much what Wanda has done, but what others have done because of her and the power of her example. This is the measure of the lady.”

Wanda has received numerous honors for her charitable impact on the aviation community. In 1986, she was inducted into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame; in 2004, she was the recipient of the National Aeronautic Association Public Benefit Flying Award for Distinguished Volunteer; and in 2018, she was the recipient of the Endeavor Award by Angel Flight West for her extraordinary contribution to charitable aviation.

Wanda has taught the world so much about using your skills to help others. As a pilot, she not only looked for a way to help people, she started a movement. Her perseverance is why LifeLine Pilots continues its mission today and why there are so many volunteer pilot organizations throughout the United States.

“Pilots have a special skill and my hope is that they will use this skill outside the limits of their life and make a difference in somebody else’s life.” –Wanda Whitsitt

The world is a better place because of Wanda Whitsitt, whose passion and vision have made a lasting impact on this world.