"This will be an hour 45 minute flight. Good, everybody good?" After Dale Brown runs through the safety procedures, he climbs into the cockpit of his personal plane to do what he loves most. “I love to fly.” Climbing to 14,000 feet is nothing new for the former U.S. Air Force Captain. Although who he flies changes frequently. In the back of his fixed-wing aircraft this time are Amanda Stewart and her sister; they desperately needed a lift to San Diego. "I have a rare kidney disease, so I have to go there monthly."
Dale is one of hundreds of volunteer pilots who make themselves available to help patients like Amanda. "It's a great reason to go flying and I just really love helping people out." Volunteers with Angel Flight West donate their planes, piloting skills and flying costs to help families in need. They arrange free, non-emergency air travel for kids and adults with serious medical conditions at a moment's notice.
"We have to watch the weather very carefully, we're very lucky today." For Dale, weather determines his flights. However, for Amanda, blood tests time her travel and they have ever since she was seven years old. "My doctors call and they're like your blood work's horrible. You have a staph infection, we need you to come in immediately!" Amanda says not having the disposable income to book last minute trips means Angel Flight is a blessing. "It's just like thank you, thank you so much. We're really grateful for the whole thing." Gratitude like that keeps Dale's plane - and his spirits - sky high. As for this trip, "We made it!" the girls cheer. "Thanks so much, Dale. It's nice to meet you. Bye, thank you." With another mission complete, the young ladies continuing on their way. Already Dale looks forward to the next time he can extend his wings for this higher calling and one that makes his heart soar. "It makes you feel great."
To become a volunteer pilot, you need a minimum of 250-hours Pilot In Command flying time. To learn more about that or to find out if your family qualifies for the free resource, log onto www.angelflightwest.org.