VAN NUYS, CA, Dec 04, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) — Marking its 80th anniversary in 2008 as a leader in aviation, business and community service, Van Nuys Airport (VNY) today hosted a dinner and awards presentations honoring air ambulance operators and flight crews who provide time-critical medical transportation to save lives. More than 200 local community, business, civic and aviation industry leaders gathered to pay tribute to medical flight teams from the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Air Operations Unit, Helinet Aviation and AIRescue International who have saved thousands of lives throughout the Los Angeles basin and beyond through their heroic, complex and often dangerous medical transport missions.
"Van Nuys Airport’s 80-year history is intricately woven into the fabric and development of the San Fernando Valley," said VNY Airport Manager Selena Birk. "Our event not only commemorated the airport’s leadership in aviation and legacy of community service, but honored the dedicated men and women who tirelessly work, often in dangerous and complex situations, to provide critical air ambulance services to individuals and families in need."
Los Angeles City Councilmember Tony Cardenas joined Los Angeles World Airports Chief Operating Officer Steve Martin and VNY Airport Manager Selena Birk for awards presentations. Helinet Aviation President Alan Purwin was honored for donating a $1.7 million Sikorsky 76A helicopter to be used exclusively as an air ambulance, six pilots on 24-hour standby, insurance and fuel to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, which dramatically improved medical team response times by 60 percent.
Special recognition was also provided to Dr. Francine Vogler, AIRescue International medical director, for her 17 years of coordinating emergency medical missions involving life-saving evacuations, repatriations and complex logistics across the globe in a wide range of aircraft. In addition, LAFD Battalion Chief Joseph Foley accepted an award on behalf of the firefighter/paramedics in the Department’s Air Operations Unit who perform advanced cardiac and pediatric life support, pre-hospital trauma life support and flight physiology in dedicated air ambulance helicopters.
Held at the airport in Pentastar Aviation’s hangar facility, VNY’s 80th anniversary celebration featured a keynote address by Judy Sheriff, program administrator for the Children’s Emergency Transport Program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and a silent auction to raise funds for much-needed patient transport monitors and equipment. The Rotary Club of Van Nuys presented Childrens Hospital with a $1,000 check to support the program. "Tonight’s event held special meaning as we commemorated Van Nuys Airport’s rich history and honored aviators who will continue to provide the gift of flight well into the future," said Birk. "As we commemorate the airport’s proud past, we also look forward to continuing our vital role in the nation’s air transportation system and to providing increased social and economic benefits to the community."
As one of the world’s busiest general aviation airports, VNY averages close to 400,000 takeoffs and landings annually. Dedicated to noncommercial air travel, VNY meets corporate, private and government aviation needs — in the process providing vital aviation services, enhancing efficiency at the region’s commercial airports, creating jobs and promoting business.
A 2007 economic study showed that VNY contributes more than $1.3 billion annually to the Southern California economy, supports over 12,300 jobs and generates an annual earnings impact of about $707 million. VNY is one of four airports (including Los Angeles International, LA/Ontario International and LA/Palmdale Regional) owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles.