As a young sprout growing up in rural Michigan I could look out my window and see the neighbors taking off and landing their Piper airplanes from a grass runway carved out between two corn fields. I jumped aboard as often as they asked and followed the coast line of Lake Huron up to Caseville and back. I giggled as they let me gently hold the yoke and talk on the radio.
One Christmas vacation back in Michigan I saw a tattered sign that read, Flying Lessons. When I returned to the sunny skies of California I signed up at a small flight school at Santa Monica airport (KSMO). My instructor decided my very flight flight flying right seat would be to KAVX (Catalina). Now, most of you know,that's a very dirty trick. He was cleaver enough to take me to one of the most beautiful places in Southern California, but also one of the most challenging runways to land on. I'm sure I did very little to bring that plane down safely, but he made me feel like I had something to do with it. That was it. I started flying in December of 2006. I have surrounded myself with incredibly smart pilots and instructors in order to further my education. I also bought the safest single engine aircraft on the market, a Diamond Star DA40.
Instrument rated Private Pilot - flying a DA40 Diamond Star
I will forever be a student of aviation, as one should be. My quest these days is to volunteer for Angel Flight West as much as possible. In September I will embark on a cross country journey. I suppose you can say, solo, but I will pick up missions for Angel Flight along the way, and sitting in the seat next to me will be my beloved girl Friday.
Angel Flight West has given me the opportunity to fly families in need from their homes to Santa Monica where and “earth angel” drives them to a hospital or treatment center and then myself or another pilot flies them home. It’s positively the most rewarding adventure I have been able to participate in. I consider it an honor to donate my time and resources to families.
Is a network of 1,900 volunteer pilots fly their own planes and pay for all costs (which average $400 a flight) out of their own pockets, in order to make these critical journeys.
Based in Santa Monica, the ground team manages the complex system of matching pilots with passengers, coordinating the flights, spreading the word among referral agencies, and continually recruiting new volunteers.
Angel Flight is much like a small airline, further complicated by the extra care and expense of working with passengers who need our help, their families, as well as medical and hospital personnel.
The beneficiaries of the flight - the passengers and their families, the healthcare organizations - pay nothing at all, ever.