Organizations: Angel Flight Soars
Angel Flight Soars, a nonprofit based at DeKalb Peachtree Airport (PDK), flies medical patients for free to hospitals around the country if their needs cannot be met locally.
A network of more than 1,000 pilots volunteer their time, expertise and fuel in an average of nine missions a day.
“It’s important that we are based at PDK because of the large pool of pilots here,” says executive director Jeanine Chambers, “and we have close proximity to several hospitals in Atlanta. We’re able to do day trips, to transport someone to an appointment at, say, Johns Hopkins, and then get them back the same day to minimize the time they have to be away from home.”
Patients also are not required to depart from the airport. “We’ll come and pick you up in Moultrie,” she says.
Most of the aircraft in use are small propeller planes such as Cessnas, but for certain time-sensitive cases, like organ transplants, Angel Flight Soars employs jets. “There are 150 medical conditions that necessitate the use of jets,” she says. “Also, with transplants there are often more family members along.”
The organization, celebrating its 35th year, works in partnership with similar groups across the country. “We can get a patient as far west as the Rocky Mountains, but once there, another organization will take over,” Chambers says. “Most of our round trips are around 600 miles.”
The group usually does not fly internationally, but it does pitch in for certain circumstances. “We flew missions outside the U.S. during all of the hurricanes that hit last year,” she says. “Disasters change all of the rules.”