President’s Letter 2006: A Breakout Year

By August 4, 2007Archive

Dear Friends,
With your active support and encouragement, it has been a great year for CAVU!!
2006 has truly been a “breakout year”…

A record number of flights:
CAVU conducted more than 130 Hours of overflights in 5 countries. Several hundred passengers – scientists, community leaders, media, members of various governmental and non-governmental organizations – all benefited from this low-level aerial perspective. Our flight schedule in 2007 is already filling up.

Ongoing educational outreach:
In 2006, two previously produced CAVU films (“Los Senderos del Cambio” – the story of unregulated development and its impact on a community’s environmental and social welfare; and “La Comunidad” – a Caribbean coastal conservation success story) have both been exhibited in numerous communities and conferences by CAVU, governmental and non-governmental organizations. Both have been seen by an important audience of 300 high-level decision makers at the Meso American Congress on Protected Areas. Both continue to be used as educational tools in 5 countries.

The production of two new films:
The first, “Costa de Posibilidades”, tells the story of how marine conservation in conjunction with small business development can create a sustainable future for small coastal communities. It has already received significant attention in these communities, and now, under a new partnership with two major Latin NGOs, it is about to receive a much wider audience, with community workshops to follow in 2007.

CAVU’s second new film, “Aqua Salvadora”, is a documentary about the process involved in supplying potable water to poor communities, thereby significantly improving quality of life. Its premiere on November 11th was attended by over 1000 villagers from a number of small communities in central El Salvador. CAVU is currently in discussion with CARE regarding a multinational exhibition plan.

Exciting current projects:
In partnership with The Embera Nation, Wildlife Conservation Society, ANCON and Fundacion Natura, CAVU is engaged in a two year project, including an aerial GPS mapping of Comarca 2 and a documentary on the social and environmental impact of massive deforestation in the Darien, Panama.

With 100% funding from the state of Florida, and in cooperation with the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, CAVU is conducting a flight and film campaign examining coastal mismanagement issues along Florida’s coasts. A short 15 minute film will be produced and distributed among elected officials, business leaders, media and other key opinion makers; also produced will be two Public Service Announcements for public access.

Formation of significant strategic partnerships:
Currently, CAVU has projects with Albatros Media, AMANCO, ANCON, AVINA, CARE International, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, MarViva, The Republic of Costa Rica/MINAE, TACA Airlines, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the State of Florida…in various communities and biological corridors in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and the United States. And we are in discussions with The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and Ecologic Development Fund on possible projects in the Osa Peninsula and Southern Belize.

CAVU emerged from a lengthy, detailed, full audit with flying colors, and in September received IRS notification of its 501.c.3 status as a U.S. public charity.

We have added two new members to our board of directors – Mr. Nick Shufro and Dr. Sebastian Troeng. Their diverse backgrounds, experiences and professional careers, along with their enthusiasm for CAVU’s mission, immeasurably strengthens our team. During a three day facilitated retreat in September, we all spent numerous hours together and jointly developed a revised mission statement and detailed strategic plan for 2007.

Finally, with the generous, pro-bono assistance of Paragon (, we have developed an exciting new website. It will contain regular updates from the field, streaming videos of current CAVU projects, links to related sites, etc. It should be an engaging, interactive site, and I strongly encourage you to visit, and keep in touch with us.

A word on the enclosed DVD:
It is loaded! There are clips (6 to 10 minutes in length) from each of our completed films, as well as a 3 minute “teaser” from the Darien (With more than 50 on-site interviews, and 40+ hours of film and video, this project is still in edit). But if you have time for nothing else, please take 12 minutes to watch “Flight and Film” (6 minutes on flight and its impact; 6 minutes on the film process and outreach campaigns). It is an attempt (hopefully entertaining and informative) to explain just who CAVU is, and what it is that we do.

In closing:
My wife Jordan and I are proud of CAVU beyond words. We created it together, and together we have nurtured, fed, scolded, prodded and pushed it forward – virtually every waking hour for the past two years. It is standing now, larger than the two of us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Please have a look at the enclosed DVD. And if you believe in our mission, your generous contribution would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.


David S. Smith

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