Wings of Compassion
By Melissa Brooks, 'Norristown Times Herald'
Angel Flight East operates a service out of Montgomery County’s Blue Bell airport in Pennsylvania which uses volunteer pilots to transport seriously ill patients free of charge to medical facilities far from their home. Commercial flying is often not an option for these patients, and the small staff of volunteers takes them where they need to be and also operates “Compassion Flights” which bring family members on a last visit to a terminally ill patient. The organization has many dedicated pilots, some of which are so eager to help that they are on a list of “go to” pilots who will handle last-minute or unique flights. Volunteer pilot Bill Massa of Gladwyne says he get so much joy from flying that he does not deserve the recognition--that should be reserved for the ground volunteers who do all the work. “I’m just the bus driver,” he says. “I contribute my time and plane, but I get far more out of it than I put into it,” he said. Pilots must be IFR-rated, with 300 logged hours, a current instrument rating and have aircraft with at least four seats.
September 16, 2009