Pilots for patients is a great organization. Just ask Billy and Vickie Greer. Wednesday morning James Johnson flew his Cessna 183 from Monroe, Louisiana to Dyersburg. His mission: to assist Vickie Greer and her husband Billy and transport them to where she can get the medical treatment she needs, and all of this at no cost to the Greers.
The mission of Pilots for Patients is to provide free air transportation to those patients needing diagnosis and treatments at medical facilities not available to them locally. Their goal is to eliminate the burden of travel allowing the patient to concentrate on getting well.
Hester Hill, wife of former county mayor Richard Hill, has been involved with the program for many years. She said, “The Community Cancer Fund and Pilots for Patients work together. My daughter was the first one to fly, but it was Angel Flight back then.”
Johnson, from southern Arkansas, will fly the Greers to meet their connecting flight in Monroe, La. Johnson said about the program, “It’s really a well-oiled machine, it runs really well. I’ve never flown into an airport and the patients not be there, or a connecting flight, or anything that caused a delay. It’s seamless and it’s just amazing how well it works really. It’s not a problem to participate at all, it’s easy.”
“Our problem is to get people to realize that we’re here to help, in any way we can,” added Debbie Harris.
Hill followed with, “We’ve been trying to advertise and we’ve been providing flights like this for many, many years. And people like Vicky say ‘I never knew. I never, ever heard of it.’ We’re here to help however and whomever we can. And when they get to their destination there’ll be someone there, called Ground Angels, to pick them up and take them anywhere they need to go. That’s our mission, to help the cancer patients in Dyer County.”
A few minutes later, Johnson helped the husband-and-wife team into his Cessna, revved the engine and took off, literally and figuratively, on a couple of wings made of aluminum and lots of hope, luck and prayers, to make their mission a successful one.