Experimental Aircraft for Charity Events
Q: Can an experimental aircraft be used to give a 'free' airplane ride to the winner of a ticket at an auction? I know that experimental aircraft can not be used 'for hire' and can not receive more than 1/2 of the flight's operating costs. But if the airplane ride raises $500 at the auction, which is clearly in excess of the entire flight's operating costs, is it legal to conduct the flight as long as all proceeds are paid directly to the non-profit organization?
A: No, experimental aircraft may not be used for conducting charitable flights. Feel free to offer the raffle prize in a type-certificate airplane, but an experimental aircraft is not allowed.
As a side note, even though the owner of the airplane is not receiving a penny for the flight, (when all proceeds are donated directly to the charity), the FAA still considers it a commercial activity. As such the pilot must either be under an FAA-approved drug-testing program or have an FAA-issued exemption for the charitable flight. If you elect to submit an exemption request to cover the FAA's drug-testing requirement, it is best to do it at this website - just follow the "unregistered user" links.