Angel Flight does a lot of other stuff too. We transported blood after September 11th. We fly human organs. Sometimes we’ll transport a terminal patient’s family or even a pet to be with them at the end. We fly disabled kids to special camps designed for them. And AF was recently tapped by the government to assist in future disaster relief efforts.
Yesterday I flew a very kind Ukranian woman from Sacramento named Ludmilla. She was in San Diego receiving treatment for cancer and my mission was to fly her home. Angel Flights are rewarding, but the days are quite long. Here was the timeline:
10:00 am: Obtain weather briefing, compute weight & balance numbers
10:30 am: Begin the drive to the airport
11:00 am: Arrive at the airport, begin preflight inspection of the plane
11:40 am: Takeoff from Corona
12:10 pm: Arrive at Montgomery Field in San Diego
12:45 pm: Load passenger & bagggage and taxi for departure
01:00 pm: Takeoff for northern California
03:00 pm: Arrive at Fresno/Yosemite Airport
03:30 pm: Deplane passenger & baggage, refuel, forage for food
05:00 pm: Return from lunch, preflight, check weather, and taxi out for takeoff
06:50 pm: Land at Corona, refuel and taxi to the hangar
07:30 pm: Leave the airport by car
08:00 pm: Arrive home
The winds were 15-20 knots out of the north, which meant a full-on headwind the whole way. It was a slow flight northbound. But I took comfort knowing that the return flight would be speedy. And was it ever! I decided to see just how high I could get the plane to go. At 13,500 feet, I was moving over the ground at 155 knots (178 mph) at 52% power. At 15,500 feet I was still climbing at nearly 400 fpm.
The air up there was thin and cold. And since I’d had only a few hours sleep the night before, I elected to decend to a more breathable altitude. I made the return trip in about an hour and forty minutes while watching the setting sun cast puffy shadows over the stratus layer two miles below me.
Angel Flight gets a lot of great press. Recently the Today Show has been running a series entitled “Who We Admire”. Katie Couric chose to do a segment on Angel Flight, and you can view it here.
AFW has a plethora of video clips archived from news channels around the country. I encourage you watch a few of them. If nothing else, check out this clip hosted by Lorenzo Lamas. It’s something Angel Flight put together a few years ago to explain what it’s all about.