Lo­cals grate­ful for air an­gels

Alpine Observer - - News -

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.”

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