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It’s been 2 years, 1 month, and 4 days since I flew Sugar Pop, Cloud Nine’s Cessna 310, to her new home and put her to work saving the lives of homeless animals. In that time period, we’ve flown her 400 hours, covering most corners of the continent, and saving the lives of over 400 animals in that time frame specifically with this plane.
For that past 2 years, 1 month, and 4 days, I’ve also been telling you that this day would come. This is the day when we must cease flying Sugar Pop until her engines are overhauled.
We knew this day was coming from the beginning. Sugar Pop was generously donated to Cloud Nine, but on the day her engines were donated, they were also at the manufacturer’s recommended overhaul interval. 400 hours of flight time since then means we’ve flown this plane’s engines 25% beyond their recommended lifespan, an impressive achievement that is owed to our careful management of the engines and taking good care of them. Through routine inspections, we confirmed that the engines were still in good health to fly, although we knew that their days were numbed. Yesterday, though, we determined that these engines have finally reached the point where they are no longer airworthy and must be overhauled.
In the past two years, we’ve worked hard to raise the amount of money necessary to overhaul these engines, along with raising money to perform as many transports as possible and handle additional unexpected repairs that have come up. You may recall that last year, we had to perform a significant avionics repair on Sugar Pop. Normally, we would have 10-15 years to raise this much money, and be able to space out our fundraising. We have made great strides thus far, and have also secured some excellent discounts and donations on key components and labor. Because of this, our costs will be significantly reduced vs. standard. However, we are still expecting our total costs to exceed $55,000. While we have raised over half the money, we still need your help to fully fund this engine overhaul!
The good news is that, once we are done with these engine overhauls, Sugar Pop will be in excellent condition and we can expect to operate for the next 10-15 years before needing to overhaul the engines again. In the past two years, we have also performed a number of important repairs and upgrades to the plane that mean it will be able to faithfully serve us over that time period.
You may ask why we can’t use our Piper Aztec, which seems to have served Cloud Nine faithfully since its inception without any significant problems that have ever been talked about in the manner that Sugar Pop’s flight instrument issue last year and now engines have. In reality, the Aztec has proven to be less reliable than Sugar Pop, however its repairs have simply been less costly and thus not required the same level of fundraising. In addition, the Aztec has come to the end of its useful life. It’s ready to retire, and we expect it to move onto its new life within the next month or two. This will leave Cloud Nine with Sugar Pop, which is a better-suited airplane for our missions, not to mention a better plane in general.
It seems like non-profits are always asking for money. However, Cloud Nine Rescue Flights only sends out pleas like this when we have to suspend operations due to a major problem. Most of the time, we try to keep you informed on what we’re doing and stick to doing the important thing: saving the lives of homeless animals. Right now, we need your help more than we ever have before. Your donation, regardless of the amount you can afford to give, will help us complete these engine overhauls and allow Cloud Nine to save the lives of thousands of animals for years to come. Please make your donation today at www.cloudninerescueflights.org to help us reach our goal!