GA fees threaten Angel Flight

Legislation proposed by the Obama administration could ground life-changing non-profit Angel Flight, reported Springfield, Missouri television station KSPR on June 27. Angel Flight is a group of volunteer pilots who fly people with serious injuries and illnesses, “many of them children right here in the Ozarks, to hospitals that offer the treatment they need,” the station stated.

“But the program could be in jeopardy,” said KSPR reporter Joanna Small, who then told the story of Braiden Sullivan, whose grandmother is convinced there was an angel watching over her grandson the day a riding lawnmower backed over him. The boy’s legs were practically destroyed below the knees, but now he’s walking, “thanks to another angel, the kind with wings made of metal, and a propeller,” Small said.

Angel Flight pilots have flown Braiden half a dozen times from Springfield, Missouri, to Cincinnati for essential surgeries to repair his legs. Mark Carroll is one of them. “The whole idea behind Angel Flight is [that] the pilots are willing to donate their time and any expenses associated with the flights,” Carroll explained. He foots the expensive bill. This plane just in fuel alone can cost $80 to $100 an hour,” he told Small.

Now Carroll is concerned that user fees proposed by the Obama administration could price pilots like him right out of the program. “If I’ve got to pay a fee every time I talk to air traffic control, every time I get a weather briefing, or land and take off, that all adds up,” Carroll said, “and that may make going up a real challenge.”

Braiden and his grandmother are facing a challenge of their own: “He has no calf,” she said as she pointed to one of Braiden’s legs.

“They need the Angel to beat that challenge,” Caroll said.

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