I don’t have a pilot’s license - and will be envious of those who do until the day I die - so you would be correct in wondering why I’d devote a Red Tail Squadron blog entry to “angel flights” since there’s no chance I could ever participate as a pilot and give a first-person account. There is no direct connection to the Tuskegee Airmen or World War II or history, either.
Ah, but is that really true? What if a Tuskegee Airman (and remember the “Tuskegee Airman” title also refers to ground personnel who supported the fighter and bomber pilots throughout the war years) needed to get to a medical appointment in another city, but the distance was a challenge or the travel cost was a budget issue? Maybe time was an issue, too. He or she could contact a local Public Benefit Flying Organization (a.k.a. an “angel flight” group) to arrange to be flown to and from the appointment at no charge.
Of course, this service is available to more than just Tuskegee Airmen. There is a network of Public Benefit Flying Organizations across the U.S. and all have the same goal – to provide free transportation in private aircraft to those needing to get to medical appointments at facilities a distance from their homes. There is also no charge if a caregiver needs to come along on the flight to help the patient. The participating pilots donate their time and aircraft; all of the organizations are supported by financial donations to defray additional costs.
Here is a quick list of the groups that offer “angel flights” in the United States and the states they serve (states with asterisks behind them are served by multiple organizations):
Angel Flight Central (www.angelflightcentral.org)
IA, NE, ND, SD
Angel Flight East (www.angelflighteast.org)
KY, MD, NJ, NY, PA*
Angel Flight Inc. Oklahoma (www.angelflight.org):
AR, KS, LA*, MO, NM*, OK, TX
Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic (www.angelflightmidatlantic.org):
NC, VA, Washington DC, WV
Angel Flight Northeast (www.angelflightne.org):
CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, OH, RI, VT
Angel Flight Soars (www.angelflightsoars.org):
GA, MS, SC, TN
Angel Flight West (www.angelflightwest.org):
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM*, OR, UT, WA, WY
Cair Flight (www.cairflight.org)
Giving Flight (www.givingflight.org):
Lifeline Pilots (www.lifelinepilots.org):
IL, IN, MN, WI
Pilots for Patients (www.pilotsforpatients.org)
Volunteer Pilots Association (www.volunteerpilots.org)PA*
Other websites with general information about these types of flights include www.angelflights.com and www.aircareall.org.
These charitable groups are always looking for “Earth angels” too, so if you’re not a pilot but would like to help out, contact a group near you. Of course if you ARE a pilot and want to be involved, same deal – click on the link of the group that serves your area, give them a call and see if you can help.
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Commemorative Air Force. For more information, please visit redtail.org.