Pilot Stories – AFNE Volunteer Rich J.

Rich Jacobs Volunteer Pilot

The call came at 6:30 a.m.

They have a liver for my 16-month-old” she said, “we live near Providence and need to get to Pittsburgh by noon. You’re on a list which Angel Flight gave us. Can you help?”

After a preliminary check of the weather, I told her that I’d meet them at the airport in Providence at 8:00 a.m. My attention then turned to coffee and all the usual preflight planning details plus one more: coordinating with the ambulance company in Pittsburgh which would be meeting our flight.

We arrived in Pittsburgh by 11:30 a.m. The child received his new liver that afternoon. Thus, Angel Flight mission (my 572nd) accomplished.

Although this was likely a once-in-a-flying-career flight for me(and undoubtedly for my passengers), every Angel Flight is special: the passenger might never before have faced the medical issues and decisions then confronting him or her nor ever before been in a small general aviation aircraft. Angel Flight’s volunteers and professionals are there to assure that the last thing that the passenger should have to deal with is how to get to or from their medical appointment, especially if it’s to see a specialist in a distant city.

It’s called “public benefit flying”. Certainly, the efforts of Angel Flight volunteers benefit the patient and the patient’s family specifically and society in general, but as importantly, those efforts benefit the volunteer, both on a practical level (keeping current) and because it just feels good to do good.

My Mission 572 took place in 2015; my 800thin 2021. Somewhere between those two, the father of a 7-year-old patient –passenger (heart transplant at age 2) asked me “why do you do this?”<

“Whoever preserves one life, it is as if that person preserves the entire world”.

To be able to fulfill that mitzvah (good deed) by flying my own aircraft —it doesn’t get any better than that.

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