Ser­vice an an­gel in flight

Pa­tients have al­ter­na­tive to com­mer­cial air travel

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Cen­tral Otago res­i­dents suf­fer­ing from a med­i­cal con­di­tion and in need of as­sis­tance to at­tend med­i­cal ap­point­ments can now call on an air an­gel. An­gel Flight is a char­ity which pro­vides flights for pa­tients that need non-ur­gent med­i­cal treat­ment where road travel could be phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally de­mand­ing. It started in New Zealand in May last year af­ter re­tired busi­ness­man Lance Weller saw the need for a ser­vice for peo­ple who could not af­ford to pay for com­mer­cial flights but re­quired them. He had flown mis­sions for a sim­i­lar char­ity in Aus­tralia. Flights are un­der­taken by pri­vate pi­lots and over 200 air­craft own­ers and vol­un­teers are al­ready in­volved. This week he an­nounced op­er­a­tions have ex­panded to Otago and South­land with the in­clu­sion of Wanaka and Queen­stown-based pi­lots. Wanaka Flight Train­ing owner and An­gel Flight pi­lot Peter Hen­driks said he and his wife Julie got in­volved in the char­ity as a way to give back to the com­mu­nity that sup­ported them. Fam­i­lies who had a sick fam­ily mem­ber could strug­gle to bal­ance ap­point­ments and ‘‘there is enough stress go­ing on for the fam­i­lies as it is’’. They pro­vided the ser­vice to re­lieve some of that stress and the stress of hav­ing to travel long dis­tances to at­tend spe­cial­ist ap­point­ments, check-ups or med­i­cal treat­ments such as chemo­ther­apy, he said. In Queen­stown, An­gel Flight pi­lot Hugh McLel­lan said he had read about the ini­tia­tive, thought it was a great idea and made con­tact with or­gan- is­ers. ‘‘Fly­ing is a spe­cial­ist skill and I have 2000 ac­cu­mu­lated hours in a fixed wing craft, with a lot of that time be­ing clocked in over the West Coast. ‘‘There’s maybe only a hand­ful of pi­lots with those kind of hours and that ac­cu­mu­lated knowl­edge of the area around and its a good thing to use that knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence for a great cause.’’ To qual­ify, reg­is­tered health pro­fes­sion­als needed to re­fer ‘‘mis­sion re­quests’’.

Photo: CHE BAKER 628678387

An­gel wings: An­gel Flight pi­lot Peter Hen­driks and Earth An­gels Julie Hen­driks and Philippa Lums­den are look­ing for fam­i­lies in need of their ser­vices in Up­per Clutha. The trio are a part of An­gel Flight New Zealand which of­fers free flights and trans­fers to non-ur­gent hos­pi­tal ap­point­ments. What: An­gel Flight – a char­i­ta­ble trust pro­vid­ing free air trans­port for peo­ple with med­i­cal needs who would ben­e­fit from air travel but can­not af­ford com­mer­cial flights Where: Now op­er­at­ing in Otago and South­land More in­for­ma­tion: an­

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