This Organization Is Extending Services for Those Who Need Transport to Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

A group of volunteer pilots is racing to provide free transport to anyone who needs an abortion or gender-affirming care in the lower 48 states. Thanks to TikTok and a flood of donations, they may be able to help a lot of people.

Pilot in cockpit of seaplane
Photo: Getty

As our nation inches close to the fall of Roe v. Wade, there is one glaring truth that cannot be avoided; abortions will still happen. They just won't be legal or safe in many places. As more conservative states race to outdo each other with extreme bans on abortion healthcare, grassroots organizations are also racing to help provide access to safe abortions. But what if you live in a state where there are virtually no abortion providers? That's where Elevated Access comes in.

Elevated Access is a brilliant and courageous group of licensed pilots who volunteer their time, skills, and planes to transport anyone who needs abortion care access or gender-affirming care. And the best part? They do it for free.

They join a growing list of grassroots efforts to connect patients with safe access to abortion care. For example, in New York, the New York Abortion Access Fund organizes an annual fundraiser to assist anyone in New York or traveling to New York who cannot afford an abortion; this organization will pay the total bill and provide connections to other resources. NYAAF has a goal of raising $100,000 this year; their fund-a-thon is open through the month of May.

In a TikTok video that has gone viral, an unnamed pilot with the handle @cheesepilot tells his followers about the project called Elevated Access. We reached out for comment, but neither @cheesepilot nor Elevated Access has responded. The video has amassed 1.2 million views and 11.1K comments.

"So, quick little update: we've raised over $7,500 in donations, and we've got dang near 50 pilots. And we can grab somebody from pretty much any state in the United States, excluding Hawaii and Alaska, and get them to the healthcare they need," @cheesepilot said in the viral TikTok video. "So, if you know anyone who needs reproductive healthcare or gender-confirming care and they can't get it in their state or their location, direct them to us at"

The @cheesepilot video caught the attention of famous TikTok journalist V from @underthedesknews, who featured them on the hugely popular Banana Shirt Good News Only segment. The segment attracted donations to Elevated Access to help fund fuel to keep the fledgling volunteer-based program alive.

Here's How It Works

"We work with direct support organizations who contact us when they have a client that needs transportation assistance," the Elevated Access website reads. "This list of partner organizations is rapidly changing, but we have been working with Midwest Access Coalition on this concept for over a year."

A patient who needs a flight transport to seek an abortion or gender-affirming care can reach out to Elevated Care through their support provider. That support will evaluate the patient's needs and determine if they are safe to travel before connecting with Elevated Access. From there, Elevated Access will book a flight—for free—and connect the patient with a volunteer pilot.

"If the organization is not familiar with Elevated Access, ask them to contact us about establishing a relationship," their website reads.

Here's How To Be a Volunteer Pilot

Elevated Access notes on their website that no volunteer airline organization has publicly stated support for similar types of missions; therefore, they vet their pilots to ensure that their values align with the task of connecting patients with stigmatized health care.

For anyone with a pilot's license who may want to volunteer, there are a few requirements to consider, including having a current license with 200 hours of "pilot in command time," meeting FFA minimums for flight status and currency, as well as insurance, age, and training prerequisites.

After @cheesepilot was featured on @underthedesknews on TikTok, users flooded the Elevated Access site and sent an incredible $12,000 their way for donations as well as lots of interest to volunteer.

"With the help from V at Under the Desk News, we've raised over $12,000 in donations. We have more people volunteering than what we can honestly respond to in a reasonable time frame," @cheesepilot says in a follow-up video. "The growth that has happened because of y'all's support, like let's be honest, I'm just a dumb guy that barely knows what I'm doing on TikTok saying, 'Hey! This is a good thing, volunteer and donate.' So, the thanks goes to all of you."

In response to questions in the comments, @cheesepilot wrote that "most planes' base cost to run is anywhere from $65-400/hr to run." That means that with $12,000 in donations, the folks running Elevated Access will be able to help a lot of people across the country.

If you or someone you love needs transport for an abortion or gender-affirming care, ask your support provider to contact Elevated Access online or call 815-694-0494.

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