Providing an extra lift for cancer patients has become the focus of one flight school in Victoria, Texas. The airplanes at Calhoun Air Center are mostly used to train new pilots, but the school is now allowing local pilots access to its planes for transporting patients, at the cost of fuel only.
Angel Flight South Central has more than 700 pilots in Texas who volunteer their time, skills, and the operating costs of flights. In 2012, the non-profit received more than 4,000 patient mission requests. Many patients live in remote locations and would need to drive long distances or purchase airline tickets.
Chief Flight Instructor Erin Cude recently became an Angel Flight volunteer pilot and flew her first mission this month. She volunteered to transport Larry Godsey from Arlington, Texas, to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston for treatment. What otherwise would have been a four hour drive for Larry was cut in half.
Larry has been an Angel Flight passenger since 2010. He relocated to Arlington from Ohio shortly before discovering he had kidney cancer. Luckily, he is now in remission and must only travel to MD Anderson once every six months.
“Larry was an amazing first patient to fly with,” Cude commented. “He had a great attitude! I’m really looking forward to future missions.”
Dianna Stanger, owner of Calhoun Air Center, has been transporting patients for the past 10 years. She has flown more than 150 missions in various types of aircraft.
“As a pilot, the need to maintain proficiency is imperative. What better way to fly than with a patient who truly appreciates the flight?” Stanger stated. “I’m excited for our instructors and students to become involved with Angel Flight.”