Category Archives: How To

How-to information for people needing medical transportation

How to Take Great Photos and Videos of your Angel Flight West Mission

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Angel Flight West missions will always be remembered. Sometimes you fly in a small four person aircraft; loud propeller engines, a tight space and controls all around you. Other times you could be sitting in a ten person aircraft, consisting of DVD monitors, walking space and a restroom. Each ride is an experience that you will always remember. What could be the easiest way to remember your mission? Angel Flight West has created a list of helpful hints and tips that can be used when you want to document your mission using your camera or video camera. Follow this list and your flight through Angel Flight West will never be forgotten!

 

1. Be Prepared
Whether it’s a phone or an SLR camera, always be prepared! Don’t forget to charge your camera or video camera the night before. Also, don’t forget any cases or accessories you might need to document the ultimate flight! Always bring a case and a fully charged phone or camera. If you are going to be taking pictures at night, make sure to bring some sort of flash to have the correct amount of light in your photos!

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2. Don’t Be Full
There are thousands of cameras that you could use for the mission. Whichever camera you choose, make sure you have lots of memory / storage! Running out of room for pictures on your memory card is the worst, and it means you won’t be able to document the trip at all. If you’re bringing a phone, make sure you have enough room for lots of pictures. Bring extra memory cards if you’re going to be using an SLR or handheld camera.

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3. Pass It Around
Although you might want to be the photographer of the trip, don’t forget to let others take photos as well! To get the full view of your mission, make sure to pass the camera around. Take photos of the flight, with the pilot, and let the pilot take photos of you (only when on autopilot, of course!). Take photos of your sleeping family members, and let them take photos of you! You won’t get a scope of the entire trip without everyone being involved!

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4. Get the Angles
Similar to Pass It Around, make sure your photos are all different perspectives and styles. Take a close up of the controls, and take a group photo when you have landed! Getting all types of photographs will give your mission that ‘story book’ feel. You will capture the entire idea of the flight!

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5. Enjoy the Sky

What could we possibly forgetting? Have Fun! You’re on one of your first Angel Flight West missions as a passenger, so remember to enjoy the sky, enjoy the mission, and enjoy the airplane your pilot has let you fly in. Soar through the clouds and capture the memories you and your family will never forget!

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Safety Above All Else

Angel Flight West Command Pilots provide a great service for their passengers.  They volunteer to provide transportation because they want to help others.  Along with the desire to help comes the responsibility to ensure a safe trip.  Angel Flight West wants all Command Pilots to keep safety at the forefront as they plan and execute their missions.  With that goal, this section covers some of the key safety aspects to be considered when flying AFW missions.

Safe missions start with a pilot’s expectations or lack of expectations.  With that in mind, no pilot is expected to:

  • Accept any particular mission
  • Fly or continue a mission in the presence of any doubt about completing it successfully
  • Compromise safety in any way in order to complete a mission

Canceling a mission is considered a demonstration of good judgment and will never be criticized.  If these three tenets are kept in mind, then a pilot can expect to have an enjoyable time participating in Angel Flight West Missions.

Passenger Safety and Comfort

Angel Flight pilots often carry neophyte or low time General Aviation passengers.  These passengers may have concerns and fears and need some knowledge and personal management to ensure their comfort and safety.  To ensure the passenger’s safety and comfort, the pilot should:

  • Introduce general aviation to neophyte passengers.  The time spent providing a general explanation about flying to a passenger while doing an abbreviated walk around will often assuage a passenger’s concerns and fears.  One media induced misconception from both television and movies is that if the engine was to stop; an aircraft would immediately go into an almost uncontrollable dive.  A short  light hearted explanation that an airplane operating without an engine is simply a short winged glider can often abate that misconception and minimize any nervousness.
  • Manage your passengers on the ramp.  Passengers often don’t know about the dangers that airplanes present (like invisible spinning props).  Escort your passengers to and from your aircraft, making certain that everyone is under control.  This is especially important with children.  Make certain that your engines are shut down prior to enplaning/deplaning, and manage your passengers so they remain clear of other aircraft, whether the engines are operating or not.
  • Complete a thorough passenger briefing.  FAR 91.519 requires that a pilot provide a thorough passenger briefing for all passengers on every flight.  A good briefing includes explaining seat belt and shoulder harness operation, operation of entry doors and emergency exits, location and use of survival equipment, life jackets, and life vests, the use of oxygen masks, as well as what the passenger should and shouldn’t do during the flight.  From an operational standpoint, the passengers should be briefed on how to use headsets (and where to place the mic), the intercom (if equipped), the pilot’s preferred hand signals, and so forth.  Pilots should be prepared to communicate with passengers that are blind, deaf, or those who speak a language other than that which the pilot speaks.  For deaf passengers, ensure a paper and pen are available.
  • Seat belts on all passengers.  Seat belts should be worn at all times.  Young children and babies MUST be in appropriate children or baby seats and these seats should be attached to passenger seats and oriented correctly for the age of the child and type of seat.  No child seat should ever be attached to a front seat.
  • Sterile cockpit as required.  Passengers should be told that from engine start through the climb to cruise altitude is considered a “sterile cockpit” time where the passengers should only speak to the pilot if there are personal problems or issues or to assist the pilot (e.g. pointing out other aircraft).  The same “sterile cockpit” rule should apply from the pilot’s specified point on the descent to the destination through engine shut down.  The pilot should explain to the passenger(s) how they should get the pilot’s attention if they do have a problem or issue, and should notify the passenger when it is appropriate to speak freely.
  • Monitor weather conditions.  The pilot should continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the flight, especially if weather conditions warrant.  The pilot should use Flight Watch (122.0), an FSS, and/or onboard satellite weather.  If there are any questions regarding the weather, the pilot should create an alternate strategy, which may include returning to the departure airport, diverting to an alternate, or holding for the weather to clear.  If the weather makes a successful completion of the flight questionable, the pilot should discuss the weather and the options with the passenger and, together, agree to an alternative strategy.  Remember, however, that the Pilot in Command has the final decision.  A safe conclusion to any flight is the ultimate goal.
  • Monitor fuel usage & requirements.   During the flight, the pilot is expected to continually monitor fuel consumption and remaining fuel.  This becomes even more important if there are weather or other issues that may require a diversion or holding.
  • Use ATC/aircraft resources.  The pilot should avail himself of ATC’s resources if and when there is an issue of safety.  The passenger(s) can also be used as a resource where desirable.  For example, asking the passenger to watch for other airplanes is always a good use of the passenger.
  • Monitor your passenger’s condition.  Being constantly aware of your passenger’s condition can mean a great difference in the success of a flight.  If your passenger is uncomfortable for whatever reason, it is the pilot’s responsibility to initiate a response.  Often that will mean nothing more that providing fresh air or changing to an altitude that is smoother.  But if the passenger is physically uncomfortable, it might mean diverting to another airport or returning to the destination.  In extreme cases where the passenger’s condition might be life threatening, it might require declaring an emergency and flying directly to an airport located near suitable medical facilities.  If you encounter a questionable situation, declare an emergency and use the “Lifeguard” call sign.

The Eight Deadly Flying Sins

Studies done by the AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation and other organizations have identified a finite set of causative factors that lead to the majority of accidents with injuries and fatalities.  The ASF’s 2007 Nall Report statistics state that pilots were the cause of 73.8% of all GA accidents and 79.1% of all fatal accidents.  If a conscientious pilot avoids the following traps it minimizes the likelihood of an accident.

  • Fuel Mismanagement.  Fuel mismanagement constituted nearly 9% of all GA accidents.  Whether it is running out of fuel or fuel starvation even though there is fuel onboard, this type of accident happens nearly twice a week and is almost always avoidable.
  • Overloaded and/or Out of CG.  General aviation aircraft are reasonably limited in terms of payload and CG.  Each aircraft’s documents contain the aircraft’s official “weight and balance” paperwork so the pilot can ensure the aircraft as loaded is safe to fly.  An overloaded aircraft doesn’t perform at POH performance values, the stall speed is higher than normal, and an aircraft that is out of CG can be uncontrollable.
  • High Density Altitude Operations.  All pilots should always be aware of the performance robbing effect of density altitude.  Density altitude is an insidious danger because it doesn’t have to be particularly hot for it to have a major impact on an aircraft’s takeoff and climb performance, especially at heavy weights.
  • Takeoffs and Landings Accidents.  Although typically not deadly, landings and takeoffs are responsible for an inordinate number of accidents each year.  According to the Nall Report, almost 57% of all accidents happen during takeoff or landing.  Not surprisingly, a full 40% happened during landing.  Wind and turbulence, unextended landing gear, loss of control, and midair collisions on final, are some of hazards of airport operations.
  • Maneuvering Accidents.  Maneuvering flight has been the number one cause of fatalities in general aviation.  During the last ten years, more than one-quarter of all fatal accidents happened during maneuvering flight.  Low altitude maneuvering accidents are usually fatal and often, but not exclusively, the result of a pilot operating an aircraft in marginal weather conditions.
  • Continued VFR Flight into IMC Conditions.  Almost always deadly, and not just the purview of VFR pilots, continued VFR flight into IMC conditions is usually 100% fatal to non-instrument rated pilots, and surprisingly enough, claims instrument rated pilots as well.
  • Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT).  CFIT accidents are usually attributed to IFR operations, but CFIT accidents also happen during VFR operations, especially at night.
  • Must Complete the Flight Mindset.  Also referred to as get-home-itis, pilots of all ratings and hours have succumbed to the desire to complete the flight and ended their flights in a tragic way.  AFW’s passengers and missions can encourage an unaware pilot to fall into this trap.

Angel Flight West’s Potential Risky Mindset

AFW pilots are subject to all of the Eight Deadly Sins listed above, but the one that may be most compelling to an ”angel flight” pilot is the last one, a pilot’s desire to complete a flight in the face of risk.  After all, an AFW mission isn’t just a personal flight, it is a flight to help someone in need.  The pressure to complete the flight might come from some of the following motives:

  • Carrying an Unknown Person as Passenger.  It is sometimes more difficult to disappoint a stranger than someone you know.
  • Awareness of Passenger’s Personal Needs.  As an “angel flight” pilot we want to help our passengers.  The more we know about the person and their needs the more we want to make sure we deliver them to their destination.
  • Signed up for the Mission.  Pilots have a strong personal motivation to complete what they start.  When a pilot signs up for a mission, it is their nature to complete the mission.
  • Personal Obligations Afterward.  If a pilot has personal obligations after a mission, there will be pressure to complete the mission.
  • Proximity to the Destination.  The closer the aircraft is to the destination, the greater the desire to complete the flight.

Read more HERE!

Ask Josh: What’s the deal with the AFW call sign?

For anyone not aware, Angel Flight West has a unique three-letter call sign (NGF) designated by the FAA for handling, priority and marketing. Many pilots using this call sign have experienced some level of priority and other pilots have joined AFW after hearing the call sign used by controllers. As of January 1st this year, the FAA changed the way in which we are to use the NGF (Angel Flight) Call Sign in response to concerns about unauthorized aircraft trying to access US Airspace using designated three-letter call signs like ours.

Each volunteer pilot is now assigned with a unique four-digit number to file with NGF for Angel Flight missions. 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 coordination@angelflightwest.org to receive your number, or just wait until your next mission assignment and it will be on the form. Please note using NGF + your tail number is no longer accepted by the FAA. We strongly encourage everyone flying an AFW mission to file using the Angel Flight Call Sign. While it is not required, it is helpful for the coordination team to track locations of flight, help us recruit more pilots, and offers some preferential treatment for your flying.

For further information and instructions please view our previous blog post on the call sign change: Call Sign Changes.

Should you have any questions about this change or anything else, please give us a call at (310)390-2958 or email us at info@angelflightwest.org. Thank you and happy flying!

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

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL ANGEL FLIGHT WEST PILOTS:

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.

 

NEW CALL SIGN USAGE EFFECTIVE 1.1.2015 

  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 coordination@angelflightwest.org 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 coordination@angelflightwest.org. 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 FltPlan.com users:

We’ve integrated AFIDS with FltPlan.com so that you can automatically post any flight plans you file on FltPlan.com 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 FltPlan.com username. Anytime you file a flight plan on FltPlan.com, 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 FltPlan.com, and then we’ll get the advance notice we need to make a potential match.

To provide us your FltPlan.com username, you can send it to us by email at coordination@angelflightwest.org, 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 FltPlan.com 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.

AFW Requesters – Frequent Comments & Questions

Angel Flight West utilizes aviation to increase health care access in order to improve health outcomes for critically ill people living within its service area.  AFW is focused on increasing requests for service, which have declined in recent years. A requester can be any individual working at a health care facility, including a doctor, nurse, or social worker. Through a survey, AFW sought to better understand social workers’ perceptions of our services and what would better increase their requests. A survey was administered to 1400 social workers and it returned at 17% response. Included in this post are some of our answers to the frequent survey comments and questions we received.

Q: Why does AFW need seven days to arrange a flight? 

  • AFW needs sufficient time to find an available volunteer pilot. Once we receive a request, the data is entered into our database system for pilots to view. It can take some time to find an available pilot on a given day as all AFW pilots are volunteers. Additionally, in most cases, we must find more than one pilot in order to cover both the trip to treatment and the return trip home.
  • For longer trips, over 300 nautical miles, we must split the flight up into a multiple leg relay – it can take up to 3 pilots to travel 800-1000 miles. In these cases, AFW could potentially be looking for six available pilots to cover a patient’s roundtrip flights.
  • Although it lowers the chances of covering flights, we are sometimes able to take shorter notice requests. We have been able to find available pilots on short notice in some cases. This is determined on a case by case basis based on the location of the flight, the number of pilots in that region, and the amount of available flights already scheduled in advance for that day.

Q: Why are you not a guaranteed service?

  • General aviation (GA) aircraft are different from commercial airliners and much more limited by weather conditions. Thunderstorms, icing conditions, and high winds are all factors that can limit a GA pilot’s ability to fly. These decisions usually cannot be made until the day before or even the day of a flight.
  • Because pilots are volunteers, there are some flights where we simply cannot find an available volunteer to fly on a given day.
  • While we are not a 100% guaranteed service, we are proud to note that we only need to cancel 10% of our flights annually. Weather and pilot availability may impact the ability to successfully complete a flight, but we are working towards alternate transportation options to utilize when these things occur.

Q: It is difficult or impossible for my client to have a backup plan. 

  • We understand that sometimes we may be the only resource available to your client. We will work on a flight up until the afternoon prior if necessary. If your patient is able to reschedule, we are always willing to try again for the next week.
  • We are also continuing to grow relationships with other transportation organizations to establish back-up plans as well as actively growing our pilot base to have increased pilot availability. We are sometimes able to book commercial airline tickets through Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines, or greyhound bus tickets. This is however, an option only available in special circumstances in limited locations.

Q: Why do I need to complete the paperwork and make the request? It is really my client that knows all of that information.

  • All AFW pilots are volunteers, which means that they donate the fully cost of flying their aircraft. Because of their generosity, AFW staff is responsible for making sure flight requests are legitimate and fit within the AFW requirements. We require financial verification of need for assistance and confirmation that a passenger is ambulatory and physically able to fly safely on a non-pressurized aircraft.
  • We can now take requests directly from passengers. In this case, we will take all of the information from the passenger and then seek medical and financial need verification from an official requester at a medical facility. We hope that this will streamline our process significantly and lessen the amount of time required for busy medical professionals.

Thank you again to all social workers who responded to this survey. We learned some very valuable information from you that will help AFW to improve our services and better the process for helping your patients!

AFW’s First Google Hangount

Angel Flight West has released its first-ever Google Hangout! This video is the first in a series of broadcasts meant to keep you informed about what’s going on at Angel Flight, as well as to provide tips and other ideas that might be helpful. Our Google hangouts are meant to be useful for a variety of audiences, so we hope there is some information that you can share with your family, friends, or passengers. Having a conversation about Angel Flight helps spread the word so that our services can reach more people in need – the underlying goal to everything we do!
You may view the broadcast at this link: Pilot Tips. This inaugural broadcast was done by Josh Olson, currently the Director of Mission Operations at Angel Flight West. In this video, Josh discusses the new electronic waivers as well as the Phillips 66 rebate program available to AFW members. You can learn more about these topics on the Angel Flight West blog.
 Member Benefits
Most of our active members will probably tell you that the best benefit of being an Angel Flight West member is having the chance to help others in need by providing transportation.  There are, however, some tangible benefits of membership as well. This page will take you through the benefits received upon joining Angel Flight West as well as the benefits you will enjoy on an on-going basis as a member.
Electronic Waivers
AFIDS now has an electronic version of the liability waiver form. This should make the waiver process simpler and more convenient for both pilots and passengers. This blog post goes into detail about how to access the e-waiver, how to obtain signatures, and how to submit the completed waiver back to AFW. 
If you have ideas about content to include in future broadcasts we would love to hear from you! Please comment on this post to let us know what you would be interested in hearing about from our staff.

Angel Flight West Call Sign

Angel Flight has obtained permission from the FAA to use a special call sign to indicate that you’re operating on an Angel Flight mission.  You are not supposed to get any preferential handling when flying using the Angel Flight call sign, but it can happen; especially if you ask.  Any AFW Command Pilot can use it, but there are a couple things you should know.

First, when to use it.  You can use the “Angel Flight” call sign any time you’re flying a mission leg with a passenger on board.  Generally, do not use it on the positioning legs on either side of the mission leg. However, if the mission is timing critical, it is acceptable to use it on the repositioning leg to pick up the passenger.  But this should be an unusual circumstance.

Next, how to use it.  Start with the Aircraft ID in block 2 of your FAA Flight Plan.  Use the letters NGF, followed by the last three digits of your aircraft registration number.  My 182 then becomes NGF5CY (said “Angel Flight fife charlie yankee”), and that’s what I put in block 2.  Next, in the Remarks block (#11), put the agency name and your full aircraft registration.  In my case, I enter “Angel Flight West, N735CY”.

That’s it!  Now you’re an Angel Flight!

If you are planning an IFR flight, ask for your clearance using the Angel Flight call sign.  They use the flight plan data for your clearance and, as such, won’t be able to find the clearance under your aircraft’s N number.

If you’re operating without a flight plan, say under VFR traffic advisories, you don’t need to do any paperwork at all.  When you check in with Center, just use the Angel Flight call sign in the same way.  When I get to the whole VFR request, I introduce myself as “Angel Flight 5CY, a Cessna 182/Golf, …”.

Don’t forget to listen up for your new call sign…  The first time I used it, I missed a couple radio calls, since I wasn’t used to listening up for something other than “Skylane 5CY.”  Also, listen carefully.  There is a commuter airline that has a very similar call sign, and it’s easy to mistake Eagle Flight for Angel Flight.  And, don’t forget to use the call sign.  In the beginning I found I automatically replied with my normal N number.

Use your best radio techniques and professionalism when using the call sign, since we don’t want to reflect badly upon the organization.

To ensure we have no confusion about another call sign used for medical transport purposes, let’s discuss briefly the use of “Medevac”  According to the AIM (Section 4-2-4), “Extreme discretion is necessary when using the term “MEDEVAC.”  The FAA recently replaced the term “Lifeguard” with “Medevac.” This call sign is “only intended for those missions of an urgent medical nature and to be utilized only for that portion of the flight requiring expeditious handling.”  Angel Flights almost never qualify under this guidance.  You could consider using it if the condition of your passenger deteriorates en route, but you’ll probably get just as much assistance if you declare a medical emergency.  Tell ATC that you need to get to an airport ASAP, preferably one with medical resources available, and have them send whatever assistance you need.

You are encouraged to use the Angel Flight call sign on all appropriate mission legs, because it can create interest in Angel Flight West.  Perhaps in hearing it, other pilots will endeavor to find out more about Angel Flight West and sign up.

 

First Flight on a Small Plane – From a Teen’s Perspective

Angel Flight West flies patients of all ages to medical treatment. This week, we are going to focus on what it is like for a teenage patient flying to treatment with volunteer pilots. In 2013, Angel Flight West pilots flew a total of 485 flights for 172 passengers age 12-18.  Some of these teens were flying for the first time with AFW and some were longtime passengers continuing their treatment.

Kody took his first flight with Angel Flight West on January 16, 2014 from Nevada to California. Kody is a 16-year-old boy with Stage IV Melanoma. After taking time off from work to care for him, Kody’s parents were not in the financial position to afford travel to a very important clinical trial consultation appointment at UC San Francisco Medical Center.  Kody and his family turned to Leslie, Director of Programs and Services at Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, for help and were able to set up a mission request with Angel Flight West. We caught up with Kody to find out more about his first experience as an AFW passenger.

Kody and Carmen before their first Angel Flight.
Passenger Kody and his mom Carmen before their first Angel Flight.

Before traveling with AFW volunteer pilots, Kody expected a fast, comfortable flight – a much easier alternative to a long drive from Northern Nevada to San Francisco. He explained that “it meant a lot as it cut a 16 hour round trip into about 4 hours… it was great for my parents because they didn’t have to take extra days off work.” Flying with Angel Flight West really eases the burden for passengers like Kody who may not be able to make a long trip by car. For Kody, traveling long distance meant he “got to fly in four different planes and see places [he] normally drives by look so different from the air.”

Flying in a small aircraft with a volunteer pilot donating their time, money, and aircraft to help those in need can also be a fun experience for passengers. Kody reported that “it was really cool to fly for the first time. I got to fly some of the planes. The pilots explained all of the different controls.” Flying in a small aircraft really gives a passenger the opportunity to see what goes on in-flight. AFW passengers are able to hear the pilot communicating with air traffic control, witness the use of different controls on the dashboard, and sometimes fly a plane for the first time as a “co-pilot” like Kody did!

Angel Flight West volunteer pilots provide non-emergency air travel for passengers of all ages – ranging from infants to teens, like Kody, to adults. The flights donated by AFW pilots enable patients to receive vital treatment that might otherwise be inaccessible because of financial, medical or geographic limitations. If you know someone in need of charitable travel for healthcare, please have them visit http://afids.angelflightwest.org/request-a-flight to request a flight.

 

Preparing Your Family to Fly: Practical tips to get ready for a medical flight

You likely know by now that flying in a 4 to 6 seat aircraft is different than flying commercially. So what can you do to prepare yourself, and your kids, for a private flight to medical treatment or wherever you need our volunteer pilots to take you?

There are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself and your children safe and comfortable on the flight.

Child on Small Plane

Hearing protection: Earplugs or a protective headset are necessary on a private plane to protect your hearing. Even on a commercial flight, you may want to use earplugs to reduce noise, and on a private flight they are essential. Please consult with your pilot, they will likely have extra pairs of headsets. If not, you can buy commercial earplugs at the drugstore. Keep in mind the flight headsets we wear for hearing protection and communication are different from the headphones you would use to listen to music. Regular earphones will not protect against hearing loss. If you are using earplugs for a baby or toddler, it’s a good idea to cover them with a hat or earmuffs, to keep your child from removing them during flight. Of course, please check with your doctor about recommended ear plugs for yourself and your child, and ask if there are any precautions you should take due to a medical condition.

Seatbelts and car seats: All of our Angel Flight West pilots use aircraft that have the appropriate FAA certified seatbelts for adults. If you are flying with a baby or toddler, his or her own car seat is the best option for the flight. If you can secure the car seat in a front facing seat, that may help minimize motion sickness, and will also allow them to enjoy the flight more. Speak with your volunteer pilot or Mission Coordinator if you have any questions or concerns about fitting your car seat into the plane.

Comfort: It gets chilly up in the air, and the rear seat of a private plane is usually a few degrees cooler than the front. Wear layers, and a blanket or sleeping bag is a nice way to make sure everyone can stay warm and cozy.

Air pressure: You will probably feel pressure building in your ears upon takeoff and landing. Swallow, yawn or chew gum to alleviate the pressure, or make your ears “pop”. For babies and toddlers, you can give them a bottle or pacifier to suck during takeoff and landing, which will equalize the pressure in their ears.

These simple additions to your flight checklist will make for a more comfortable and safe experience as you soar with Angel Flight West to better health. Also please keep in mind that private planes are more like traveling in car – there are no bathrooms or catering service on board. For a more complete description of what it’s like to travel on a private plane click here.

For a look at what it would be like to fly with Angel Flight West, check out this short video.