Pilot Stories – Charlie T.

Patient Flown by Volunteer Pilot Charlie Tillet

Volunteer Pilots Impact Lives Every Day.

The most moving thank you letter I have ever received was from a passenger I flew from Boston to Nantucket on one of my first Angel Flight missions.  It began “I’m not lucky to have serious medical problems but I am extraordinarily lucky to have Angel Flight pilots, like you, in my life. “

Since then, I have completed more than 200 missions and each one reinforces the magical wonder of flight, the resilience of the human spirit, and the incredible service that we provide to those in need

Presque Isle Maine, near the Canadian border, is a frequent Angel Flight destination as the one-way drive is a 400-mile, 6-hour slog and there are no direct commercial flights.  Without Angel Flight, a single doctor’s appointment in Boston would require two long drives and an overnight stay but we can make this a routine day trip with a 9:00 am pick-up, a 6:00 pm drop-off and plenty of time for appointments.

Many Angel Flight passengers face a long and difficult struggle.  Yet the strength they demonstrate is contagious and carries an important message for us all.  This spirit is captured in the closing sentence from that same thank you: “Without your generous offer to fly me, I would have arrived home at 11 pm.  Thanks to you, I was home for dinner and an evening with friends.  I think the doctors forget the point of it all is to have your life back: for living and giving and savoring it to the fullest.  Thank you for making it possible”.

I recently attended Angel Flight’s 25th Anniversary Gala and sat at a table filled with Angel Flight pilots – representing a wide range of volunteer years, missions completed, flying experience, and airplanes flown.  But the one thing we DID share was universal appreciation that an organization like Angel Flight exists. It allows us to utilize a challenging skill that we developed over years – one that sometimes seems commonplace to us – in the service of others.

As I tie down my plane after a mission, I savor the sounds of the airport – the general quiet punctuated by the burst of airplane engines on takeoff.  Every Angel Flight mission helps renew my appreciation for the things that give my life special meaning: family, friends, health, volunteering, and flying.

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