FORT MYERS, Fla.- Two Angel Flight pilots got recognition from the non-profit organization this month for flying sick passengers to and from their appointments.
Marc Miller of Estero was named 2015 Pilot of the Year for the Southwest Region.
“I decided I wanted to fly with a purpose, I chose Angel Flight as an opportunity to fill that need,” said Miller.
Since 2012, Miller has flown 75 missions.
“My favorite part is being able to ease the frustration of somebody who may be going through a tough time and at least take the part of transportation, as something they’d have to worry about, off their mind.”
When asked why he does it, Miller said “I heard one Angel Flight pilot asked the same question and he said I do it because it’s my duty and I think that pretty well sums up the way I feel about it.”
Miller is one of more than 650 volunteer pilots for Angel Flight Southeast.
“It’s a humbling experience to be able to do it and I’m just one of many that really serve the organization.”
The pilots donate their time and use their own personal plane.
Brian Lucas is also one of those pilots. “It’s an intersection of something I’m passionate about, which is flying and helping some people who are really in need.”
Lucas started doing missions in the fall and was just recognized as 2015 Rookie Pilot of the Year for the Southwest region.
Wednesday morning, WINK News went along with Lucas as he picked up a 19-year-old passenger in West Palm. He then flew Sean Bomford to Tampa where he got his last treatment at Shriners Hospital.
“I started when I was about 8.” Bomford has been taking Angel Flights for a decade, “I heard about them, signed up and it was easier then driving four hours.”
Bomford has been going to Shriners since he was just 3 months old.
“So I have some orthopedic problems, back problems so they really helped to maintain it and maybe fix some of it as I grew and they did fix some of it.”
Then in August of 2013, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which is cancer of the lymph nodes. “I had Stage 4 b, it was my chest had metastasized my lungs.”
“It’s stories like Sean, and so many other patients I’ve had a chance to meet of the past years and months that keep pilots like myself coming back for more,” said Lucas.
Bomford tells WINK News he has a love for flying and would like to one day be a pilot and pay it forward.
“I would love to fly kids with Angel Flight and return the favor and move it on to the next generation.”