Angel Flight helps so many people that otherwise would not have access to the medical care that they need. Great people doing great things!
Angel Flight West (www.angelflightwest.org), an organization which provides a needed service for the passengers and joy to its pilots.
I have donated my time and the expenses of operating my airplane to Angel Flight West, off and on for several years. The purpose of Angel Flight West is to provide expense-free flights to deserving people in need of transportation for humanitarian reasons. The reasons vary, although they often involve travel for medical needs. Although the AFW pilots are all volunteers who pay for the operation of their airplanes, AFW provides the logistical support, which requires full time (and I dare say, underpaid) employees to do all of the arranging of flights, rented office space in which to work, and the usual expenses of maintaining an office.
When I first joined AFW, I did not realize how much I would get back in the joy of providing the flights. The easiest way to describe that feeling is to describe 3 of the flights, each very different from the others.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered to fly to Killeen, TX, to pick up a teenage girl and her dog. She had been visiting a relative in Killeen when the hurricane hit her family’s home in New Orleans, and her family had been air-evac’d from New Orleans to Denver. My purpose was to reunite the family. So I flew to Killeen from Fort Collins, picked up my passenger and her dog and the usual amazing stack of stuff that teenagers think they must have to live, stuffed everything into my little airplane, and flew back to Denver. It was a long flight with a stop going and coming for fuel, so although I’d left early in the morning, we didn’t arrive in Denver until well after dark. We were greeted by her mom and 4 siblings, and the excitement of the kids plus the hugs from my passenger and her mom made it all worthwhile. I arrived back in Fort Collins at 11 p.m. after being in the air a total of more than 11 hours that day.
I picked up my passengers, Gramma, Mom, and 2 year old baby girl, in Scottsbluff, NE, as the second leg of their trip from Iowa City, IA, to Casper, WY. The baby girl was receiving treatment for club feet at the University of Iowa hospital. This was the second time I’d transported this same family, so we all knew what to expect from each other. However, only 2 days before their trip and while they were in Iowa City, an Angel Flight from the east coast had crashed on take off from Iowa City, so my passengers were understandably somewhat nervous. It also happened that a cold front was moving through and was located just east of Casper, so that we had to fly through it and dodge some accompanying scattered thunderstorms. So the ride was bumpy, and the landing at Casper was with an extreme crosswind. Although I warned my passengers that the landing might be a bit rough due to the wind, it was actually very smooth; taxiing in the 40-45 knot wind was more difficult. Once again, I was rewarded with big hugs from all 3 of my passengers, and Gramma punctuated her hug by saying, “I feel so safe, flying with you.”
I picked up my passengers, Mom, Dad, and their 3 year old son, in Denver. The little boy had just gotten a clean bill of health after months of cancer treatment, so the parents were understandably elated and in wonderful spirits. The original plan was just to fly them to Casper and have another AFWer fly them on to Billings, MT, the nearest large airport to their home in Hardin, MT. But I volunteered to take both legs. Poor Mom had a very tender tummy, so she got sick several times during the trip. We stopped for lunch and fuel in Casper, and then flew on toward Billings. But as Dad and I were chatting, I asked if they had left a car in Billings, but they hadn’t—a relative was going to drive up from Hardin to get them. I asked if he knew of any problem with the Hardin airport, and all he knew was that it was very small, but it was only 4 blocks from their home. So instead of going to Billings, I diverted to Hardin. It was indeed a small airstrip, but so much more convenient to their home. And again, I was rewarded by big hugs from both parents and from their little boy.
I have done volunteer work with different agencies throughout my life, but the personal gratification I have had from flying AFW flights has been greater than any other of the volunteering I have done. I get to do something I truly love (flying my little airplane) and I get to do something very meaningful for my passengers. Hard to beat!
Review from #MyGivingStory
I was priviledged to fly 87 missions for AFW, then I got caught out of town in Santa Rosa, CA in a medical emergency of my own. After 3 months in hospital - mostly in ICU - AFW helped me get home to Seattle where I could complete skin grafts and be closer to home. This they did for me even though I did not fit the usual criteria for transportation as I was not yet ambulatory. I am so grateful to this great organization.
I enjoy my time in the air as a pilot. One of my greatest joys in life is to share this passion with others. Angel Flight West (AFW) makes it possible for me to fly passengers with a real purpose and they do all the work! I have worked closely with many of the staff at AFW and have found them to be the most caring, sincere, and dedicated people you would ever meet. The organization has systems and processes in place to administrate all of the logistics. It is wonderful to volunteer in the capacity of a pilot and not have to worry about anything other than the actual flight and comfort of the passengers. All of the passengers that I have met have only good things to say about AFW when we fly. They are as amazed as I am that such an organization can exist. It is a testament to their sincere concern for those with special transportation needs. All the volunteers play their part and with the structure that AFW provides, great things are accomplished. It is a pleasure to serve with them!
i live 300 miles north of san francisco & we have no gynecological oncologist up here. so since i was diagnosed with a persistent ovarian cancer 5 years ago, i have had to make many trips to get surgery & see the specialist & get scans, etc. being poor makes this an almost insurmountable problem. then in my gyncancer support group i learned about angel flight! trips to SF are now an adventure & i've met so many kind & interesting pilots.
one time my request had generated no offers of a flite, so i had bought a greyhound ticket. then early that morning, pilot tom tessier called me to say he'd seen my request with no response, & to offer to fly me down himself! he rearranged his work schedule & spent a big chunk of his day to get me to my doctor, there's dedication & compassion! (greyhound tickets are good for a year, i'll use it some other time)
when i tell people about angel flight, they have a hard time believing it! obviously these guys love to fly, but angel flight pilots practice a generosity too seldom encountered.
Angel Flight West is my hero! My good friend's infant son, Christian, has hypoplastic left heart syndrom (HLHS), Asplenia, and malrotation of his internal organs. He needed to fly down to Stanford for his second open heart surgery, but cannot fly commercially because his Asplenia and HLHS make him too medically fragile. A drive down would have been incredibly hard on his little system, not to mention his parents. Angel Flight West stepped in and found him, his mother, and father a flight down! They were the answer to so many prayers! When it was time for Christian to come home, a flight was scheduled but he had to be readmitted for a brief time at the last minute. Angel Flight West completely reworked his schedule so that he could fly home the next day with absolutely zero stress for Christian's family. What a wonderful service!
Angel Flight West was, quite literally, a life saver for my husband. He had a brain cancer that could not be treated in state, and AFW (a part of Mercy Medical Airlift) made sure that he could get to those treatments. Without this wonderful team we could never have afforded to get him the treatment he needed, and they always came through.
After over thirty flights, three surgeries, and countless treatments, my husband did succumb to the cancer earlier this year. AFW increased his quality of life, quantity of life, and gave both of us great relief to not have to worry about transportation. I will always hold Angel Flight West in my heart as an extended family--always ready to help when needed.
I have great memories of talking with the pilots, reminiscing, comparing geology and landmarks as we flew, and overall escaping from the stresses of life-threatening illness. The pilots were always welcoming, never judgemental.
Angel Flight Westt: wonderful staff, excellent pilots, and a source of compassionate hope for families desperately in need of transportation to medical help.
Last year AFW flew my daughter and granddaughter to CA from AZ several time for life saving treatment. This year they continue to help children with cancer in AZ get to CA for care. They planes provide an additional bonus in that they are private planes vs. commercial. You are not afraid to fly AFW with a child who has a compromised immune system. Thanks to the entire staff for servicing the state of AZ. Teri Dornhecker Director Daisy's Eye Cancer Fund
I can't say enough wonderful things about this organization. My granddaughter has Retinoblastoma. Eye cancer in both eyes. She is only 7 months old and doing multi-state travel for treatment. AFW has been taking her and my daughter to and from treatment monthly and it has been a blessing. Money as everyone with cancer knows is tight. To have this service available is a God sent. The best part is with chemo your immune system is compromised and with AFW being private planes we do not have to put Evie on a commercial flight with the risk of others being Ill. They are so generous and helpful. They don't even let my daughter carry her luggage. They treat us like we are the ones doing them a favor, not the other way around. Thank you so much for serving our community.
What a wonderful experience. All the volunteers are so caring and were able to coordinate my flight from Fresno to Oakland so I could have spine surgery at UCSF Spine Center in a matter of just a few days. They even coordinated a ride to the BAART station in Oakland. This plane ride was so much fun for me. It felt like the frosting on the cake and was just a taste of my new abilities after surgery to treat scoliosis. My surgery has been life changing. I can now walk a mile if I want and I can stand long enough to cook dinner.. I could not afford to fly myself and driving was not an option either so AFW was a blessing that came in the nick of time, as I had cancelled surgery twice. And they would have flown me home if not for the change in my discharge plans. Thanks to Angel Flights West for making it possible for me to now be considering what I want to do with the rest of my life after 10 years of being disabled. I am amazed by what I am able to do now. Angel Flights West filled in the last blank in my list of needs in order to have the surgery that has changed my life. THANK YOU ALL AT ANGEL FLIGHTS AND IM GLAD TO BE ABLE TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT THEM.