All posts by Josh Olson

Questions to Ask your Doctor about Flying for Medical Treatment

It’s always a good idea to prepare a list of questions for your doctor’s appointments, so you can think about what you want to know before you’re in the stressful setting of a doctor’s office. If you are flying with Angel Flight West for surgery or medical treatment, here are a few questions to help you and your medical team plan your trip:

1. How soon can I fly after surgery or treatment? The time may vary greatly depending on the procedure you are having. Your care provider must provide a medical release stating that it is safe for you to travel. You must also be able to walk and step up into the aircraft.  To find out what to expect click here.  Ask your doctor about recovery time so you can properly plan your flight home. For a full list of our requirements click here.

2. Is supplemental oxygen recommended for my condition? Private planes are not pressurized like commercial flights. Ask your doctor if there are any concerns.

3. Do I need specific care for stitches or a surgical site?

4. Will I be taking home medical equipment or other luggage, such as liquid medications? Our pilots need to calculate overall weight and have limited cargo space, so it’s important that we know what to expect.

5. What can I do to improve circulation during the flight? Are compression socks recommended for someone with my condition? Are there seated stretches or movements I can do during or before the flight?

6. Are there medications I should take or avoid before the flight? Ask your doctor about use of all prescription and over the counter medications before and after your flight.

7. Flying with our volunteer pilots reduces your exposure, but if your Angel Flight is with one of our commercial partners, ask your doctor for suggestions to prevent picking up a cold from one of your fellow passengers. There are many simple ways to prevent infection from crowds.

If you are flying with Angel Flight for medical treatment or have a persistent condition, it is important to discuss your travel plans with your hometown doctor and also with the medical professionals at your destination. Get the best travel advice from your doctors, so that your “angel flight(s)” can be an effective leg of your journey to health.

Resources to Prepare Your Child for Flight on a Small Plane

Kid and Plane 1

Once your Angel Flight West Flight request is vetted with a healthcare professional and approved by an AFW coordinator, we will start preparations to connect you with one of our volunteer pilots, and you’ll be ready to take the next steps on the wings of “angels”. If the flight includes a small child, here are some materials to help prepare your child for their very first flight, or their first flight on a small plane.

Flying in a 4 to 6 seat airplane is a different experience from commercial air travel. The planes are not necessarily pressurized and do not have climate control the way our commercial airline partners’ planes do. There will be new noises and you may feel the rolls and bumps as the aircraft works with wind and weather patterns. At the same time, you will have the most amazing views you’ve ever seen. We love it up above the clouds, and want you and your kids to feel the same wonder on your “angel flight”.

Here are a few books and videos you can share with your young children to help prepare them for their very first flight with Angel Flight West. We hope to make your flight(s) a highlight in your healing process.

Airplane Flight!: A Lift-the-Flap Adventure by Susanna Leonard Hill, with illustrations by Ana Martin Larranga. This airplane shaped board book recommended for ages 2 to 5 tells the story of a commercial flight in rhyme, illustrated with beautifully simple drawings. Your child can “lift the flaps” within the book to emphasize and interact with parts of the story, such as opening the wing flaps.

Away in My Airplane by Margaret Wise Brown. A lovely story of a solo pilot in a prop plane, this book has you flying through a lovely dreamscape of animals and beautiful sights. Written by the author of Goodnight Moon, this book is recommended for ages 2 to 5, and is suitable for very young children.

My First Airplane Ride by Patricia Hubbell, illustrations by Nancy Speir.  This book tells the story of a young boy’s first flight with his family. It gives excellent descriptions from a child’s perspective of the airport and security (good if you’re on a commercial flight) and what to expect in terms of noises and sensations on the plane. Recommended for ages 4 to 7.

Ask your local library about these and other books about flying and riding in airplanes. These books are also available on Amazon.

This video is of a dad taking his 9 year old daughter and toddler son for their first flight. The view is inside the plane, focused on the pilot and the kids, and includes two takeoff and landings. Dad chats with his daughter very informally about what they see outside.

As with any material, we recommend you preview these books and videos before sharing them with your child, so you are prepared to answer questions or address your child’s specific concerns.

We hope these materials will help you prepare your child for journey with Angel Flight West. To help you prepare, here is a good article that discusses the practical aspects of flying with a small child.

Angel Flight West and its volunteer pilots and commercial airline partners are part of your road to recovery. If the medical treatment that’s best for you or your child is in another city or state,  and you meet our qualifications, you can request a free flight and we’ll do our best to help you. A 400 mile trip may seem out of reach, but for a passionate pilot with a private plane, it gives them an opportunity to do what they love, to help someone else in need. We will do our best to make the flight an exciting and interesting experience; hopefully a break and an opportunity to get up and away from the daily grind of illness and treatment. We want to take you above the clouds and make the impossible distances shrink into possibility.

For more information about making a flight request and the types of missions we fly, please click here.

Thank You From Angel Flight West

Jodi G. flown by command pilot Dennis Phelan 6.23.13
Jodi G. flown by command pilot Dennis Phelan 6.23.13

November is a special time to remember the good parts of life, and the people who help make them possible. At Angel Flight West we are continually grateful for the hundreds of volunteer pilots and our commercial airline partners who provide free travel to those in need of compassionate travel assistance. While our pilots do much of the heavy lifting, each mission we fly include dozens of volunteers on ground as well.

We are grateful to our office volunteers, people who give their time to help make all of Angel Flight West’s operations possible. People like…

Alan Cohen
Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen, a retired attorney,  who has been volunteering with Angel Flight West for three years, when he’s not pursuing his other passion, studying Catholic literature, especially from the Middle Ages. Alan tells us he loves volunteering at Angel Flight because it is a way of serving God in a meaningful way in the community. He enjoys helping us care for the seriously ill, financially needy, and desperate persons in society by assisting the Angel Flight staff with office work. Alan is especially helpful in finishing necessary office projects to help keep everything running smoothly and efficiently at Angel Flight West. Thank you Alan.


Fern Goldstein
Fern Goldstein

Fern Goldstein. Fern says she enjoys the environment and the warmth generated by the people that work at AFW. Fern’s favorite part of volunteering is the good feeling she gets from helping others, especially children needing help. Spoken like a true retired LAUSD kindergarten teacher! Thank you Fern, for helping AFW help those in need of medical transportation or other compassionate travel assistance.


Ari Lissauer
Ari Lissauer

Ari Lissauer. Ari is a student who has been a regular at the Angel Flight West office since 2010, coming in every week to help us with needed office work and those very important mailings for fundraising and outreach. Thank you Ari, for helping us spread the word about Angel Flight West to those in need and those who can help.



Our Wing Leaders and their teams. We are grateful to our Wings, who are on the ground and in the air with strong grassroots awareness and outreach efforts. These leaders and their teams help with pilot recruitment, assist with grant fulfillment, welcome new members to Angel Flight West and provide orientation so new volunteer pilots can start flying missions as soon as possible. Wings, we couldn’t fly without you. Thank you.

Alan, Fern, Ari and our Wing Leaders and teams are only a few of the dedicated and valuable volunteers at Angel Flight West. There are so many ways our volunteers help.

To all of our Los Angeles headquarters office staff volunteers, who answer our phones and provide the first link between passenger and pilot, thank you.

To our Mission Coordinators, who manage the logistics of each flight and partner patients and others in need with their pilots, thank you.

To our Disaster Response Volunteers, who put their daily lives on hold to help others in times of crisis, thank you.

To the Earth Angels, a brigade of volunteer drivers who transport patients in Oregon, Seattle and in the Los Angeles area airports to regional medical centers, thank you.

To our dedicated, hard-working board of directors, who guide the organization and give counsel year after year.

To our Special Events and Fundraising Volunteers, who work tirelessly to ensure that we have the necessary funds for all of our flight operations, thank you.

And to you, who is reading this page, thank you for your interest in Angel Flight West. We hope we can help you, or perhaps you’d like to volunteer  and help us, in the coming year.

New Electronic Waivers

Here’s some good news from the mission coordination team: AFIDS now has an electronic version of the liability waiver form. This should make the waiver process simpler and more convenient both for our pilots and our passengers.

The electronic waiver can be used on computers, tablets and smart phones. Passengers can “sign” the form using a mouse on the computer, or using their finger or a stylus on a tablet or phone.

waiver_signedYou will need to have internet access on your device when accessing and submitting the waiver, whether using mobile data or WIFI. Please be sure to have some paper copies of the waiver with you as a backup in case your internet access fails you.

Accessing the waiver

The easiest way to access the waiver is by clicking on the link at the bottom of the email which was sent to you with your itinerary. Click on the link for the leg of the mission that you are flying to bring up the waiver. Since the waiver is specific to your leg, you’ll need to use this link to access the proper waiver for your flight. Please have your email available on the device you plan to use for the signatures to get easy access to the waiver.


Signature blocks are automatically inserted for the passenger and any companions of record in the mission leg. If the passenger is a child, a signature block is inserted for the passenger’s guardian instead of the passenger.

If the mission assistant is listed on the mission, a signature block will be added for his or her signature. If not, a blank block is provided. Under either circumstance, please have the mission assistant sign.

If you have additional people who need to sign, for example, a companion who is not listed on the mission record, click the link to “Add additional signatures.” Please ask these individuals to also enter their name using the onscreen keyboard on your device.

Once you have all the signatures, and the photo release, simply click the Submit button and the waiver will be saved. That’s it… you’re done!

Note that you can toggle between the English and Spanish versions of the waiver by clicking or tapping the link at the top of the page.


Thanks for using the new electronic waiver, and as always, thanks for all you do to provide assistance to people who need transportation to medical treatment.

Please email or call the office with any questions or feedback on the new system; we’re always looking for ways to improve the Angel Flight experience for our volunteer pilots.

For complete documentation on using the electronic waiver, please visit the AFIDS wiki.

Caregiving Resources

Dnews AngelFlight

Life happens, and being a caregiver can be overwhelming. We hope you have excellent doctors, nurses, social workers, and certainly family and friends who help you with day-to-day challenges and important healthcare decisions.

One of those decisions may well be how you can regularly get to your treatment center. Remember you can count on AFW to help with free flights to medical treatment.

Caregiving is rewarding and vital, but let’s face it: it is tough. Our goal is make your lives easier and better by providing free air transportation for your patient. Additionally, here are some excellent organizations that can give you support and ideas for help at home.

Share the Care has created an amazing model to structure a formal caregiving group. They have online resources, handbooks and advice for creating an effective and efficient caregiving team. They also have an extensive list of links to condition-specific caregiving sites.

The American Cancer Society has resources to help you understand the challenges specific to cancer caregivers. It has online support groups and a special section for parents of children with cancer.

The Caregiver Action Network site is organized into channels for each type of caregiver, and has a toolbox of checklists and online applications to help you manage everything from medication schedules to effective communication with your doctor. You can also request direct assistance from a CAN volunteer for education and support.

Lotsa Helping Hands connects volunteers with caregivers and families who request help. It’s social networking at its best. You can use this site to form a community to request help, and there are webinars and resource pages to provide excellent advice. has an extensive network of forums and discussion groups to provide emotional support and cheer for caregivers. They also have two programs to link you directly to a volunteer for one on one support.

We know a caregiver’s time gets crunched down to nothing, but 20 minutes on the internet can help you get back some time, by employing the techniques and tools on caregiving sites like those above.

Please think of the pilots and air/ground coordinators at Angel Flight West as the free transportation part of your caregiving team. A several hundred mile trip may seem out of reach, but for a passionate pilot with a private plane, it’s a way to give back using their love of flying.

If you need free transportation to medical treatment, make a flight request to Angel Flight West.  Call us today: (888) 426-2643 or click here to request a flight online. For more information about making a flight request and all the helpful types of missions we fly, please click here.

The flight itself can be an exciting and interesting experience; a healing break from the daily grind of illness and treatment in your lives. We want to fly you above the clouds into a world of hope and possibilities.

Medical Transportation from Angel Flight West: How Does it Work?

At Angel Flight West we want you to know that good things come in threes. Two wings and an engine make a trio to provide flights for medical or humanitarian services. A pilot, a passenger in need and an AFW coordinator brought together “give hope wings” by arranging vital travel. A critically ill teen, a medical team and a new liver can all be connected by a volunteer pilot from Angel Flight West. Service, impact and help are the three corners that make up Angel Flight West.

AFW Sunset Pix

1. Service: Angel Flight West arranges free air transportation for those with compelling need.

  1. Many know us as the volunteer pilots, or “Angels” who fly patients to cancer treatment, but AFW does not discriminate when it comes to need. We fly patients to and from chemotherapy, we fly missions for patients who need surgery or other medical procedures. We fly veterans as part of the Honor Flights and help relocate victims of domestic violence. We fly kids and teens to special needs camp when they want a normalizing experience due to health or family circumstances, and some of our “passengers” are containers of blood or donor organs. Please click here for a full list of the types of missions we fly, and contact us if you have questions.
  2. Angel Flight West serves 13 Western states, but our service does not stop at the Rockies. We work collaboratively with other volunteer pilot organizations, and help other volunteer air passenger assistance organizations coordinate travel.
  3. If you have an appointment in selected areas, our Earth Angels volunteers can help with ground transportation to and from the airport. We will do our best to assist any passenger with a medical or humanitarian need, and refer you to other organizations if we are unable to help.

2. Impact: What our pilot volunteers, staff and partners make possible.

  1. In more than 30 years of service to the Western United States, Angel Flight West has flown nearly 60,000 missions carrying passengers and vital cargo from remote areas in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
  2. In 2012, AFW volunteer pilots and commercial partners donated flight services valued at $3.35 million, saving passengers in need that out-of-pocket expenditure. In addition to our volunteer pilots, AFW also uses generously donated commercial flights from our commercial airline partners, including Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Great Lakes Airlines, and Penn Air.
  3. Our pilot volunteers donate their time and expertise, planes and fuel. For every dollar we raise, our volunteer pilots and commercial airline partners provide approximately four times that amount in free flight services.

3. Help: How Angel Flight West can help you.

  1. We “give hope wings” by getting you safely to your destination, whether it’s a hospital, clinic or another venue for your journey towards health and well-being.
  2. We cover the distance between your rural hometown and a remote hospital or facility. We are committed to getting you where you or your family need to be.
  3. We save you time and money so you can focus your energy on getting well and improving your quality of life. And flying in a 4 to 6 seat plane is an exciting experience we love to share with our passengers! We’d like to make your Angel flight experience a breather from the challenges in your life.

If you think you may need help from Angel Flight, please click here to see if you’re qualified for our services. Of course, this is just the highlights. For more information about our services, impact or how we can help you, please click here.