On Saturday I flew, with two other club members, to Santa Barbara for a mass Angel Flight West command pilot orientation. I flew in Paul and Gina’s turbo-charged Mooney decked out with a great panel which they used to full effect to get through the 700ft overcast marine layer. You can see some pictures of the trip on my flickr page.
Angel Flight West is a an organisation that provides free air transportation for people with a compelling medical, or compassionate, need who need assistance to get their destination. The cost of transportation is covered entirely by the pilot flying the mission, and is a charitable donation for tax purposes. Passengers must be medically stable, ambulatory, and be able to sit up in an airplane seat for the duration of the flight. Angel Flight is not an air ambulance service, and passengers need to have alternative arrangements available in case the flight is canceled.
This year Angel Flight West expects to fly approximately 1200 missions and is in desperate need of pilots. As gas prices increase, pilots are flying less and people are being turned away – just as more people are needing their help. Other than an initial application fee, a pilot can become a Command Pilot (someone who can fly missions) by undergoing a brief orientation and document check. Most missions can be flown in a 172 or similar.
For our orientation, about 12 pilots braved IFR ceilings to get an early start at KSBA. We had a short talk from one of the wing leaders about how the organisation works, how to accept and run missions, and about the satisfaction one can get from helping someone get through a bad medical time. After that our logbooks, proof of insurance were verified, as well as a flight plan/briefing for a fictitious mission that we had been asked to prepare.
If you have access to a plane, and meet their minimum requirements (250 hrs PIC, 75 hrs cross-country), why not take a look at their website and see if you can help out.