By Terry Stephens
Angel Flight West gained eight more pilots at the group’s successful open house fly-in event, held Sept. 30 at Oregon’s Aurora State Airport (UAO). The group arranges
free air transportation in response to health care and other compelling human needs in 13 western states.
Usually, the organization focuses on its booth presence at air shows and other public events to educate the aviation community and the public about its free health care flights. This year, the group’s leaders decided to host an event of their own.
“We decided to make Angel Flight West the focus of the whole event,” said Brian Sheets, the Oregon wing leader. “It was a resounding success. Not only did five new pilots sign up, but three former Angel Flight pilots renewed their memberships. Plus, 15 other fliers said they would consider signing up later, over the Internet.”
The event included presentations by sales representatives of four aircraft manufacturers: Cessna, Cirrus, Mooney and Piper. They also gave tours of a display that included a Mooney Ovation 2, Piper Seneca, Cirrus SR22-G2 and a Cessna 182 Turbo Skylane.
During the show, Mooney and Cirrus agreed to work with Angel Flight West on a plan to fly mercy missions while ferrying demonstrator aircraft around the western states. Also, Aurora Jet Center signed up as a partner with Angel Flight West, offering a 50-cent discount off aviation fuel for any pilot flying official AFW missions.
Even with low cloud cover over the Willamette Valley, 45 planes made it to the event, along with dozens of people who drove there. The Civil Air Patrol’s Aurora Squadron provided cadets to assist in vehicle and aircraft parking, and the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Mulino Chapter set up a food court. Columbia Aviation Association provided use of its clubhouse. Several companies donated items for raffle prizes, including Bose Aviation, King Schools, Sporty’s, Lightspeed and Evergreen Aviation Museum.
Among the guests on the day’s program were David Deputy, his wife Allison, and their children, Emma, Daniel and Chloe. The grateful family told how much it meant to them to be able to count on Angel Flight West for help during Chloe’s two years of treatment for leukemia. Angel Flight pilots provided flights from Baker City in eastern Oregon to a Portland hospital on the west side of the state for her weekly medical care. A ground trip would have taken six hours.
Sheets said the organization attracts pilots because it’s a way for them to use their flying skills to give back to their communities by helping people. Nationally, over the 20 years since it began, Angel Flight has flown more than 25,000 missions. Angel Flight West flies about 3,700 missions a year, including 200 in Oregon.
“We had this event to attract more pilots and volunteers,” Sheets said. “The need for these flights is growing much faster than the pilot population. We need to bolster our ranks so we don’t have to cancel flights or turn people away.”
He also said they’d hold an open house again next year, to get the word out about Angel Flight.
For more information, write to Brian Sheets at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 888-4-AN-ANGEL or visit [http://www.angelflight.org].