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Giving hope wings
AOPA, others honored by Angel Flight America

Click for larger image
AOPA Executive Vice President Jeff Myers
(left) accepts the award from Angel
Flight West Executive Director Jim Weaver.

AOPA and 27 other individuals and organizations were honored by Angel Flight America on May 15 at Angel Flight's first Tribute Banquet held at the Washington, D.C., Hyatt.

"Angel Flight America helps put the best possible face on general aviation," AOPA Executive Vice President of Communications Jeff Myers told the more than 500 people gathered to celebrate the event. "We have to battle misconceptions about GA every day in the media, and the Angel Flight story is a great example of the many benefits of GA."

Accepting the award, given to AOPA to recognize the association's "extraordinary contribution to helping people in need through charitable air transportation," Myers added: "AOPA will continue to support charitable flight missions, specifically by working to get the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act signed into law so that pilots who volunteer to fly critically ill patients or transplant organs can be protected from liability suits."

AOPA's effort to educate the general public about GA also highlights volunteer pilots. The association's General Aviation Serving America Web site tells how pilots play a critical role in getting sick children and their families from their homes to the medical care they need.

Angel Flight America is one of many organizations that work with volunteer pilots to transport patients in need of medical care but unable to afford the transportation to far-off facilities. The organization, which is based in Addison, Texas, covers the country with six regional organizations and Mercy Medical Airlift, more than 5,000 private pilots, and one mission launching every 23 minutes.

AOPA member Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), who helped co-chair the event with fellow member Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.), just flew an Angel Flight mission that morning.

Angel Flight America also recognized its Pilot of the Year, Jim Platz of Maine, and Humanitarian of the Year, Hester Hill of Tennessee. The organization's Visionary Award went to Kirk Bell of Texas.

May 19, 2006

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