by Matt Johnson
Volunteer pilots on a mission to bring a Nebraska girl with cerebral palsy to doctors in Minneapolis touched down in Sioux Falls today. It’s a flight like many others pilots make in the angel flight organization, all at pilot’s own cost and risk. New legislation in congress is threatening to ground flights like these. Though a cloudy morning in Sioux Falls, it was all sunny skies for one Nebraska family.
Suzette Howe, mother says “it’s an exp.. It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun for the kids, the kids really enjoy it.”
That would be piling four people into this single engine plane. For a trip in which driving wouldn’t do.
Suzette says, “My daughter gets carsick and it’s a long drive for her. She has cerebral palsy.”
Angel flight flies people with medical needs free of charge to destinations throughout the Midwest, aiming to give down and out patients, that little extra lift.
George Lancaster/angel flight pilot says “they’re concerned and they’re worried about a lot of things and it gives them a bit of a diversion to go for a flight in a private airplane and get up above the clouds and look around and just kinda let the spirits fly a little bit.”
It’s a gesture that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Suzette says “if it wasn’t for angel flight I don’t know what I would do. They have truly been a blessing to me and my family.”
But a proposal in congress threatens to cancel future Angel Flights. A budget brief released by the Department of Transportation on earlier this month proposes that starting in 2011; user fees will pay for services like the air traffic control system. If this happens, Angel Flight pilots say it’s a benefit to big airlines but user fees for smaller airlines and pilots will be sky high.
Lancaster says “that puts an extra crimp in the desire to go flying.”
So while people love to lift off with angel flight..
Terry says “it’s pretty cool to fly in.”
The pilots are hoping the government grounds user fees…not their mission. The angel flight organization has made over ten thousand flights free of charge, covering five million miles.