In reviewing AC 61-142 Sharing Aircraft Operating Expenses, the rules for “common” versus “private” carriage and allowable operations are subject to some judgement. I am considering donating a one-hour sightseeing flight for a silent auction at a charity event. The flight may include landing at a nearby airport. I would not receive monetary compensation and all proceeds would go directly to the charity. Is this a legal operation?
Leave out the landing elsewhere (has to be a nonstop flight landing where it started and staying within 25 statute miles of that airport), and it is legal as long as you meet the requirements and follow the procedures in 14 CFR 91.146. The big things are that you have either a Private with at least 500 hours or a Commercial, and you get the charitable organization sponsoring the event to send the required letter to the FSDO (with the required copies of your pilot documents) at least seven days prior to the event.