Locals grateful for air angels
By LEAH ANDERSONBYRNE and JUSTIN JENVEY
IF you look up into the sky and search through the clouds, you might be able to see what some people refer to as real life angels.
To others these angels are known as Angel Flight pilots who provide non-emergency flights to assist rural people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them because of vast distance and high travel costs.
There’s a host of people living in the Alpine Shire that utilise the service including Mt Beauty’s Darren Hand.
Mr Hand who had a tumour wrapped around his lyhmphnodes in his throat/jaw, has nothing but high praise for the Angel Flight intiative which has helped get him to Melbourne for ongoing treatment and ensuing reconstructive surgeries over recent years.
“Before I knew about angel flight, I would try and drive all the way to Melbourne which is not only not very safe, but pretty expensive,” Mr Hand said.
“My GP suggested Angel Flight, which I had never heard of before but know I can say I honestly don’t know where I’d be medically without them.
“Words can’t describe the generosity and care that these angels put back into the community.
“Every single person I have met with Angel Flight indeed live up to their name, absolute angels.”
Last Friday, Mr Hand and another patient, Bright’s Mike White, flew to Melbourne from Wangaratta with a pilot the two men have had the pleasure of traveling with before.
Shaun Aisen has volunteered more than 400 times with Angel Flight having been flying for 25 plus years within the aviation industry.
“I was one of the first Angel Flight pilots in 2003,” Mr Aisen said.
“There was a call put out to pilots to fly people in need for services not covered by air ambulance.
“I’ve always loved to fly and I love to give so this is the ideal charity because there’s a sense of purpose to your flight, you’re making someone’s day.”
Mr Aisen has flown many clients multiple times and said he has formed special friendships and relationships with some.
Mike White said Mr Aisen was a joy to travel with.
“Shaun is a character, he is a first class pilot plus the stories he comes out with have you in stiches which can really help to keep your mind of the trip,” he said.
Mr White who has travelled back and forth to Melbourne courtesy of Angel Flight for more than a decade, said he first experienced the service well before his own health issues.
“We came up to Bright in 2003 and had an elderly gen- tleman live with us who had bone cancer, he did about 30odd flights which we accompanied him on,” Mr White said.
“I had a new valve put in my heart in 2005, and since then, and having the bottom aorta of my heart replaced in 2011, I’ve been down to Melbourne virtually every six months to see my specialist.
“The convenience of being able to get down to Melbourne in less than an hour makes things so easy.
“Once you get down there you get picked up by an ‘earth angel’ and they run you to the hospital or wherever you have to go and then get you back to the airport to head home within a few hours.
“It’s absolutely amazing and is a charity which quite honestly is grossly overlooked.”