I am not Jon, he was off doing another rescue flight today and I will do my best to answer your questions.
" How many dogs can a typical plane/pilot accommodate?"This depends on the type of plane. I would feel safe in saying that most planes can accomodate 2 animals who are in the up to 20 pound range. The size of the plane dictates what size crates can be used and that then determines what size animal can fit. For example, Jon has a Cessna 210 which normally has six seats in it. He has removed the center seats to open up space for a large crate or various sizes of large, medium and small crates. He often puts 2 animals in a crate together as long as those two know each other and are compatible. It is not uncommon for him to transport 5-8 pups. Michele transported close to 16 puppymill pups in her plane. They were all very small and several could share a crate. Ken has an experimental plane and he only had room for one small dog in a crate so it varies. You will need to ask each pilot what size and how many they can accomodate.
" Do they need/want someone to travel with the dogs?"
Again, it depends on the situation. There are times when a larger dog cannot be crated but will be harnessed with a safety harness to the backseat. In those situations, a pilot may want a critter wrangler along with him. Totally the pilots call and he/she will let you know. If the dogs are crated, then typically no, the pilots do not need someone with them.
" Would we need to be able to tell them the departing airport and date or do the pilots arrange that? (I know the airports in this area)"
Pilots will work together with you to decide. They must monitor the weather and that is a deciding factor, along with work schedules, as to which day is chosen. There are various sites where you can lookup airports in your area and offer choices to the pilots. They will be the ones to choose according to air traffic, fuel availability, and types of approach. I personally think it saves the pilots a little research time if the rescue making the request takes the time to look for airports and sends the pilot a list. Here are two sites that you can use to locate airports:http://aviationtoolbox.org/old/nearby_airportshttp://www.airnav.com
"How much advance notice is needed when requesting a transport?"
As much advance notice as possible. Those of us in rescue need to remember that pilots are totally controlled by weather. They make the judgement call on what day appears to be the best for a flight. Always remember that this can change at the last minute so you need to be prepared for a weather delay or possibly even a mechanical delay. A back-up plan is always a good idea. Communication with the pilot is paramount.
" Are there any costs that we need to know about in advance? "
There are no costs that you need to know about. Pilots are giving their time and their resources to help you. If you are a 501c3, please let the pilot know and offer them a donation letter if they would like one. We are in the process of seeking a 501c3 status for Pilots N Paws. When that is finalized, the pilots working with you through this board should be able to utilize that status.
Many thanks for any help you can offer. This is a great thing.
Thanks Charlene, we think this is a great thing too!