Priscilla (Pat) Blum Named the 2016 Katharine Wright Trophy Recipient

Priscilla (Pat) Blum, founder of the Corporate Angel Network (CAN), has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Katharine Wright Trophy. The trophy was established in 1981 and is awarded annually to an individual who “…has contributed to the success of others, or made a personal contribution to the advancement of the art, sport, and science of aviation and space flight over an extended period of time.”

Ms. Blum is being recognized for “… her dedication to establishing and developing the Corporate Angel Network, a public benefit aviation charity which coordinates, manages, and arranges free air travel on business jets for cancer patients who need transportation to and from their specialized life-saving treatment centers.”

Ms. Blum and her associate, Jay Weinberg, founded CAN in 1981. As cancer survivors who both personally experienced the extreme hardships and rigors of long distance travel to treatment centers, Ms. Blum and Mr. Weinberg envisioned the ability for cancer patients to fly at no charge, in a private, comfortable, and dignified environment, through the generosity of American corporations that operated business jets.

The pair called on corporate flight departments country-wide, reached out to cancer treatment hospitals across the nation, consulted with oncologists, worked with hotels and organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, obtained fuel and airline discounts, initiated fundraising programs, and wrote grant applications. They also created the CAN volunteer corps comprised of 40 to 60 volunteers who managed calls from patients, confirmed physicians travel approvals, and made flight reservations with a growing number of corporations in order to fulfill each and every patient flight request.

The first CAN flight took place on December 22, 1981, in Safe Flight Instrument Corporation’s King Air. In 1982, CAN logged 23 cancer patient flights and by 1987 they celebrated their 650 th completed flight. In April 2016, CAN marked their 50,000 th completed cancer patient flight – truly a remarkable feat.

Ms. Blum retired from CAN at the age of 80, but her idea and vision continues over three decades after the first flight. Her dream of utilizing business aviation to help bring thousands of cancer patients closer to their life-saving cures has been a powerful aviation success story.

The Katharine Wright Trophy will be presented at NAA’s Fall Awards Dinner on December 8th at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.