Fly­ing for char­ity

Myrtleford Times - - News - BY ALEX CRAIG

JOHN Hil­lard of Mt Beauty has been an An­gel Flight pilot for about 10 years, but has re­cently been putting his hand up for more and more as­sign­ments.

“It seems to me to be a worth­while thing to do for peo­ple who have a valid need, and it’s also an ex­cel­lent ex­cuse to go fly­ing,” he said.

An­gel Flight is a char­ity that co­or­di­nates non-emer­gency flights to help coun­try peo­ple try­ing to deal with the triple trou­ble of bad health, poor fi­nances and daunt­ing dis­tance.

All flights are free and may in­volve pa­tients trav­el­ling to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties any­where in Aus­tralia.

For Mr Hil­lard, the time fac­tor is one of the great­est ad­van­tages of An­gel Flight.

“I re­cently brought a lady from Or­bost to Mel­bourne for che­mother­apy, and although she was fine on the way in she felt very un­well on the way back, so be­ing able to get her home quickly was a real ad­van­tage.

“There was also a chap from Co­bar who was driv­ing him­self to Mel­bourne for treat­ment – a mat­ter of eight hours – but An­gel Flight could get him there in two and a half.”

The ser­vice is not like the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor ser­vice in that the pilot has no med­i­cal train­ing and med­i­cal care is not avail­able dur­ing the flight.

All pas­sen­gers must be must be med­i­cally sta­ble, am­bu­la­tory and phys­i­cally able to en­ter and exit a small air­craft with­out as­sis­tance from the pilot and sit up in the air­craft with a seat­belt on for an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

All of the vol­un­teer pilots are qual­i­fied be­yond the min­i­mum re­quire­ments of CASA for pri­vate flight in Aus­tralia and the air­craft meet spec­i­fied reg­u­la­tory and in­sur­ance min­i­mums.

Many res­i­dents of the Kiewa Val­ley have used An­gel Flight’s ser­vices over the years, which in­clude the ‘Earth An­gels’ who meet pas­sen­gers at the air­port and drive them to ap­point­ments or ac­com­mo­da­tion.

An­gel Flight does very lit­tle in the way of pub­lic­ity or fund-rais­ing, so Mr Hil­lard helps spread the word by speak­ing to com­mu­nity groups such as Probus groups and ser­vice clubs.

“We have a very small staff, so no-one has the time to pub­li­cise the ser­vice very much,”

Pas­sen­gers are re­ferred through their med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner such as a doc­tor, nurse or so­cial worker, and are en­cour­aged to bring a carer along if the need as­sis­tance on the flight.

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