All posts by Jill Dannis

Pilot Testimonial: “Why I Choose Angel Flight”

David Hopkins is a command pilot for Angel Flight West in the Northern California Wing.  He is  passionate about volunteering for AFW “not only because of the needs that it serves, but also because it is so rewarding to be closely in touch with the people you are trying to help.”  Check out David’s awesome testimonial video below to learn more about why he chooses to donate his time, resources and flying skills as an Angel Flight West pilot.

To learn more about volunteering at Angel Flight West, please check out our pilot information page.

2014 Top Flyers

Congratulations on another outstanding year for Angel Flight West! Your help and support in 2014 enabled Angel Flight West to continue its invaluable work in arranging free air transportation to those with critical healthcare or social needs.

Included below are our top-flying pilots from each wing for the 2014 calendar year. We are so thankful for each and every one the 1700+ volunteer pilots who make our “miracles of flight” possible. YOU make hope and health possible for people who otherwise would not have access.
1 2 34 5 6 7 8 9 10 1112 13




Indio Fundraising Event 2/18/15

Angel Flight West staff, volunteers and supporters attended a fun and memorable evening in Indio, CA on Wednesday, February 18. Patients, pilots, and partners shared their inspiring stories to raise awareness and support for Angel Flight West. This celebration of our cause was at the beautiful Estancia de Bougainvillea, hosted by Tom and Mary Gallagher and sponsored by Denise Wilson and our friends at Desert Jet. Thank you to Signature Flight in Thermal for waiving all fees and providing tenant pricing and complimentary ground transportation for anyone flying in.

Through generous donations made at this event, AFW raised funds to sponsor over 60 flights in 2015! Thank you to all of our donors for supporting the life changing work that AFW accomplishes through the gift of flight!

AFW Executive Director Josh Olson, Desert Jet CAM, President and CEO & AFW Command Pilot Denise Wilson, AFW Chairman of the Board Stephen Danz



AFW passenger and volunteer Paula Inhelder with AFW Executive Director Josh Olson



Past Chairman of the Board of
Angel Flight Central
Tom Holcomb

Stater Bros. Charities Grant

Stater Bros. Charities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports critical needs in the communities where Stater Bros. employees live and work. Since 2008, Stater Bros. Charities has provided funding to countless local organizations and causes that benefit hunger relief, children’s well-being, education, health, and help for our nation’s veterans.

THANK YOU to Stater Bros. Charities for recently awarding a generous grant to Angel Flight West. Your support enables AFW to soar to new heights and help more people in the Southern California Wing!

Learn more about Stater Bros. Charities here.

FAA Mandate Changes Usage for NGF Call Sign – Effective January 1, 2015


We apologize for the delayed announcement on this change. Please contact our office if you have any questions/concerns after reading the following information.

Effective January 1, 2015; all volunteer pilots who use the NGF call sign while flying passengers on behalf of Angel Flight West MUST use NGF in conjunction with the AFW designated organization number (6 and 7) and a designated pilot number that will be assigned to you by Angel Flight West.  This change affects all Air Charity Network organizations across the country. AFW is a member of the Air Charity Network.  This mandate will eventually impact all public benefit flying organizations. The “ANGEL FLIGHT” telephony will continue to be used when flying AFW passengers; in conjunction with the new NGF call sign usage.

The present FAA order and usage of the NGF call sign will expire on December 31.2014.

Pilots must NOT use NGF plus the last digits of their tail number after 12.31.2014.

This change is the result of issues identified by ATC and FAA. Which include, but are not limited to:

  • ATC unable to establish communications with an unidentified aircraft/pilot
  • Use of the call sign when a pilot was NOT on an angel flight
  • Use of the call sign in airspace outside the U.S. or flying 3rd party foreign registered aircraft
  • A problem with the algorithm of the current usage (when a letter follows NGF it does not show up on Flight Aware)
  • Pilots without a flight plan or flight following; flying into secure airspace.

The FAA supports the use of the call sign for charitable flights and worked jointly with the organizations of Air Charity Network towards a suitable solution.

Although some angel flight organizations require the use of the NGF call sign on their angel flights; Angel Flight West will continue to request that pilots use the call sign on a voluntary basis. AFW encourages pilots to consider the safety advantages while transporting ill and injured people. There are specific benefits to using the call sign:

  • To give pilots access to special handling by ATC. This provides a measure of safety and security for passengers who may be having difficulty on the flight due to medical reasons and gives pilots the opportunity to identify those needs to ATC.
  • To encourage pilots to file a flight plan or flight following when flying a charitable flight for ground and inflight operations in U.S. airspace.
  • For authorization of flight operations by pilots during disaster response flights.
  • To increase the value and awareness of public benefit flying and ANGEL FLIGHT within the aviation community.



  1. Review the Flight plan example attached to this email.
  • Angel Flight West’s unique ID is #6 and 7 (due to the size of our membership we     needed 2 numbers) (NGF6 or 7).
  • Each pilot will be issued a 4 digit number starting with #6 or 7. (For example: NGF6133 or NGF7122)
  • Pilot numbers will currently show up on your Mission Assignment Form and in the future will be found in your pilot record. You can send an email to to receive your number, or just wait until your next mission assignment and it will be on the form.  
  1. Using the NGF call sign when flying passengers on behalf of Angel Flight West.
  • Filing a flight plan or flight following is strongly encouraged by AFW.
  • In Box #2 write NGF followed by your unique NGF number issued to you by AFW.
  • In Box #11-Remarks- write ANGEL FLIGHT and the tail number of the aircraft.
  • Use ANGEL FLIGHT and your NGF# when identifying your flight to ATC.

Angel Flight West will NOT disclose a list of pilot NGF numbers to the FAA; however, AFW is required to maintain a 24/7 telephone access for ATC and FAA should they need to identify a pilot/aircraft using an NGF call sign and any relationship to an AFW mission.

The letter from the FAA and other supporting documentation can be requested from Angel Flight West at The FAA Advisory Circular, outlining the change is AC- #120-26K (available in 2015); which is based on FAA order 7340.2 (Revised November, 2014). 

TIP: Your NGF number will be in your AFIDS pilot account. We will announce when this change happens. When you have your number, write it on a sticky note and put it on the dashboard of your aircraft. (This is what commercial and military pilots do when their flight is identified by a unique flight number). 

TIP: Flight plan. Although pilots may be inclined to write their tail number in Box#2 (and not use their NGF number) while placing “ANGEL FLIGHT” in the Remarks section; FAA does not recognize this as appropriate use for the ANGEL FLIGHT telephony to identify a charitable flight. ATC may NOT give the pilot special handling without their unique NGF number in Box #2 along with the ANGEL FLIGHT and their tail number in the Remarks box. 

This FAA change for NGF call sign is effective January 1, 2015. 

*Attachments* – PLEASE READ

AFIDS + FltPlan.Com Integration

Attention users:

We’ve integrated AFIDS with so that you can automatically post any flight plans you file on to AFIDS. This lets us know about the flights you are already planning so we can see if your route matches with any of our upcoming flights. If there is an opportunity to combine your planned flight with an Angel Flight mission, we’ll let you know.

The process is simple. You provide us with your username. Anytime you file a flight plan on, we get it automatically, no additional steps on your part. If you don’t want to receive alerts from us anymore, just let us know and we’ll remove your username from the system.

We know that many times you file your flight plan right before the flight. We encourage you to file earlier, when you first plan a flight, then update it right before the flight. The edit process is quite simple on, and then we’ll get the advance notice we need to make a potential match.

To provide us your username, you can send it to us by email at, or update your pilot information in your account settings in AFIDS.

We hope that this makes it easier for you to combine your flying with community service, which is what we’re all about. We’d love your feedback. Also, a big thanks to the folks at who worked very enthusiastically to make this integration possible. We’re in discussions with ForeFlight and others to get the same kind of integration in place.

5th Annual Princess Ball to Benefit Angel Flight West

By Josh Faith – Parent of AFW Passenger

Inspiration for the Ball

The first Princess Ball was held in March of 2009 as a homecoming celebration of life and the completion of treatment for four year-old Valicity Lee Faith. Valicity was diagnosed with Leukemia on January 14th 2008 — just 1 week before her third birthday. She went through 13 long months of chemotherapy in Seattle before the cancer was considered to be in remission; and our family was able to return home, with treatment cycles of chemo medication spaced out to once a month. We chose to hold a homecoming celebration of life with friends and family. We always considered her a princess so it felt appropriate to have a Princess Ball in her honor.

In March of 2010 Valicity relapsed with Leukemia and received additional treatment in Seattle. On July 6th 2010 Valicity lost her battle with cancer gaining her wings and joining the angels above.

In Valicity’s five wonderful, but short years here on earth, she proved that she had a gift, a gift of giving and bringing people together with her cheerful personality, contagious smile and laughter. This event is the perfect opportunity to celebrate her life and share with others some of the gifts that she gave us.

History of the Ball

In March 2011, we hosted the 1st Annual Princess Ball in memory of our little princess Valicity. The Ball was created for kids of all ages by allowing them to dress up and participate in fun games and events. The 2011 ball was a fundraiser for Angel Flight West — a nonprofit organization that helped transport our family to and from Seattle for Valicity’s monthly check-ups.

The 2011 Ball surpassed all expectations with more than 400 attendees and raised $15,000.

The 2nd Annual Princess Ball in January 2012 benefited “The Montana Hope Project.” This organization made one of Valicity’s dreams come true by helping her to visit Disney World.  This event  demonstrated Valicity’s  gift to bring people together with over 640 attendees and more than $24,000 in funds raised that funded the dreams of at least 4 more children.

The 3rd Annual Princess Ball benefited “The Ronald McDonald house Charities of Montana.” This event once again demonstrated Valicity’s overwhelming gift to bring people together making it a huge success with bringing together over 1,200 people and raising $35,000.

The 4th Annual Princess Ball in March  2014 benefited once again “The Montana Hope Project.” In honor of our daughter and nephew Mikey Wilke who lost his battle with Muscular Dystrophy in 2013 joining his cousin Valicity. One of Mikey’s request is that he have the Princess Ball for the Montana Hope Project as he was also a recipient of this great organization. Also allowing one of his dreams come true by visiting Disney World.  This event  demonstrated Valicity’s  gift once again selling out with tickets bring people together with over 1,500 attendees and more than $60,000 in funds raised.

This year the 5th Annual Princess Ball this year is going to be held on March 7th of 2015 at the Red Lion Hotel of Kalispell benefiting once again Angel Flight West. The goal is for that event to be bigger than previous years’, with more entertainment, raffle prizes, and drawings

Photos from Valicity’s Angel Flights: 





Phone #: (406)250-6144

From the Cockpit: So. CA Command Pilot, Pete Bernardin

Besides flying medical missions around California for Angel Flight West, I occasionally fly for Pilots and Paws and for Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD) – a non-profit in Palm Springs that trains and delivers guide dogs to the visually and physically impaired. These organization are tops in their respective fields, and sometimes I’m able to combine missions in a two-for-one event. Recently, I had such an opportunity flying two young boys from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, and then on to Oakland to pick up a golden Labrador Retriever and fly her back to Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Pete Bernardin

The trip to Palo Alto was uneventful, and twenty minutes later I checked into Oakland to pick up Daisy, the guide dog. I knew nothing of Daisy’s history and was totally unprepared for what was to come next. Daisy had been trained by GDD and delivered to a lovely woman in Oakland more than six years ago. Now, at eight-and-a-half she was being retired as all working guide dogs must, and my job was to return her to GDD in Palm Springs. The dog’s owner, Rebecca, both visually and physically impaired, arrived with Daisy and two friends. When the five of us walked out to the airplane, I was beginning to appreciate what a momentous moment this was. Daisy and Rebecca were inseparable companions for six years – 2,190 days – and this was to be the last one.

The unsuspecting dog was happy, but very protective of her master as we slowly walked out to my Cherokee Six. I opened the back door and patted the left rear seat. Daisy looked at me, then to Rebecca who nodded, and Daisy jumped on board. We waited a moment then closed and latched the door. Rebecca assured me that Daisy would be a good traveler, gave me a leash, some dog food and a couple of Daisy’s favorite toys as tears streamed down her face. The anguish of the moment was almost unbearable. As we taxied, Daisy whimpered and looked back, her nose pressed against the window. I felt like a heel.

I discovered that the dog had no interest in food or toys, or as it turned out, no interest in me either. I’m a dog person, and can usually sweet-talk my way into a friendly relationship with most dogs in a couple of minutes, but not with Daisy. It was a long flight and she never slept. She just sat stoically in that seat for nearly three hours. Whenever I talked to her, she turned her head away; she was having none of me, thank you.

On the arrival in Palm Springs, Daisy couldn’t get out of that damn airplane fast enough. Because we were late, I was surprised that the pick-up person from GDD wasn’t there. A few phone calls revealed that he had to cancel at the last minute, so the Executive Director of Guide Dogs was on her way. In the FBO lounge we were positioned so that I could see the street entrance down a long corridor about 40 feet away. Soon, a woman came through the door. “Daisy” she cried. The dog literally leaped two feet in the air, pulled the leash right out of my hand, and streaked down the hall to meet her. In a moment, they were all arms and paws wrapped around each other, a dog-tail-wagging-crying-face-licking blur. Turns out, she had trained Daisy six years ago, and that bond is like a mother/daughter thing; it never goes away. What a scene. I’ll never forget it. When a dog retires, they are brought back to the Guide Dogs for a reorientation, and after a while placed up for adoption.

Public Benefit aviation is full of stories just like this. I sometimes think the chief beneficiaries are the pilots. I mean flying your airplane and helping people and dogs all in one day – does it get any better than this? And in the end, you feel just wonderful about what you and your airplane have been able to do.

Paypal Matching Donations to End the Year!

Remember to make your gift to Angel Flight West by 11:59 p.m.! Gifts made TODAY will be tax deductible for 2014 and will allow us to help even more people in 2015!

Follow this link to GIVE NOW! 🙂

We are now signed up for Paypal Giving Fund, which means 101% of your donation will go to AFW through Paypal’s matching donation program! Gifts that do more good. Your donation will be processed and disbursed to your selected nonprofit by the PayPal Giving Fund, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Federal Tax ID: 45-0931286). You will receive a tax receipt for your gift and thanks to PayPal’s support, 101% of your donation will reach Angel Flight West.

FAQs about Angel Flight West and the impact of your donation.

Every gift matters. Any amount counts. Make your gift to Angel Flight West by 11:59 p.m. TONIGHT. 

If you have already made a gift this year, we sincerely thank you. Have a wonderful New Year!



Santa Claus is Latest Pilot to Join Angel Flight West

Angel Flight West is pleased to announce the addition of a new volunteer pilot to its membership rolls: Santa Claus.

The holiday icon cited a number of reasons for signing up. “Mrs. Claus and I understand how difficult it can be to get medical care when you live in a remote location. There’s not much in the way of specialty treatment at the North Pole, and that can be a burden for the elves.”

When he learned that Angel Flight pilots provide free transportation, using their own planes, for people with medical issues and other urgent human needs, and that many of those flights involved children, his dimples seemed to deepen.

“Children!” he exclaimed, his voice booming. “That is truly wonderful. All of my flying is for children. Many of them bring me treats, and a lot of them write to me. This will be a great way to help them out.”

At first, Angel Flight West Executive Director Josh Olson was skeptical. “When I asked about his plane, he said he’s one of the few who is type rated in sleigh, and that it’s approved for use in more than 190 countries. That’s impressive. Not even Cessna has that kind of acceptance.”

Olson adds, “He assured me capacity wasn’t a problem. Compared to the load he usually carries, a family of four passengers or more on their way to get medical care that they might not otherwise receive wouldn’t be a problem at all. I asked how many horsepower the engine had and thought he was being modest when he said he doesn’t really measure it in horsepower, it’s actually reindeerpower. Eight.”

At present, Mr. Claus only flies one night out of the year. Flying for Angel Flight will also give him the hours he needs to stay current on his pilot’s license.

During their conversation, Claus said, “I know what you’ve been thinking. And I agree. It’s a privilege — like a gift — to be able to help others and bring them happiness, comfort and joy.”

It’s clear he understands the real spirit of Angel Flight.

Angel Flight West has received member applications from hundreds of men and women over a span of more than 30 years. The names change, the aircraft are different, but each of them comes to Angel Flight prepared to offer the gift of hope, care, and concern to those for whom a donated flight can be a lifetime — or a live-saving — experience.

And to all a good night.