January 14, 2011
By AOPA ePublishing staff
Companies offered up empty seats in their business aircraft to transport a record 3,021 cancer patients to treatment through the Corporate Angel Network (CAN) in 2010.
Even as business aviation flight hours have been slow to bounce back to pre-recession numbers, companies rallied behind CAN’s cause and added to their business flights a charitable purpose. The network has now flown more than 36,000 patients since its founding in 1981.
“These records demonstrate the interest major corporations have in supporting cancer patients through CAN, even during challenging times when flights were being cut back,” said Executive Director Peter Fleiss. “It’s because of the generosity of our participating corporations that we are able to help so many.”
CAN staff and volunteers work with patients, physicians, corporate flight departments, and treatment centers to “coordinate the medical travel needs of cancer patients with the flight activity of participating corporations”—a network that has grown to 530 companies. The organization, which provides the flights for free to patients, transported its 35,0000th cancer patient in September. CAN said that flight carried 16-month-old William Relyea, who had been receiving treatment for neuroblastoma at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his mother from Westchester County airport to his home in Syracuse, N.Y.
CAN said the 3,021 cancer patients flown in 2010 represented a 9-percent increase over the previous record of 2,778 and a 21-percent increase over 2009. Participating corporations typically fly between 250 and 300 patients to treatment each month, the organization said in a press release.
Fractional business aircraft share provider Flight Options LLC started off 2011 by donating 10 hours of fractional jet time to Corporate Angel Network on behalf of its owners.
“This flight time will be used to fly cancer patients to treatment at centers throughout the country,” said Flight Options CEO Michael Silvestro. “Corporate Angel provides a unique and extremely valuable service to those afflicted with cancer and we are proud to be able to help.”
The company has donated flight time to CAN since 2001. CAN Executive Director Peter Fleiss said Flight Options was the first fractional ownership program to join the network.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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