Category Archives: Newsletter

Articles from the Quarterly newsletter

Randy’s Alaska Air Angel Flight

FROM A PASSENGER by AFW Passenger Randy F.
Excerpt from AFW Winter 2015 Newsletter

I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June 2014. I started chemotherapy the day after I was diagnosed. My oncologist let me know that I needed a bone marrow transplant and that they do not do these transplants in Hawaii. I needed to go to a facility on the mainland.

Fortunately for me, my brother was a match and we chose City of Hope in California for the procedure. The bone marrow transplant took place November 2014. I was in the hospital for one month and then two more months close by so City of Hope could monitor my progress. After approximately 100 days post-transplant I was released to return back home to Honolulu in February 2015.Untitled

I found out about Angel Flight West from my insurance plan case manager. I was asking her about the out-of-pocket airfare expenses I was going to have to pay to fly from Honolulu to L.A., and if it was covered under my insurance plan. She indicated it was not, but that there were several nonprofits that donated flights for cancer patients.

She sent me a multipage list of several different organizations to contact and mentioned that AFW was probably my best bet. When I first read how AFW works with pilots and plane owners donating their time and aircraft to patients needing transport, I did not think it applied to Hawaii since no small planes would make the journey! I went ahead and completed the “Request A Flight” on the website just in case, and received an email back with a phone number to call requesting more information. I called and provided the requested information but didn’t hear anything further.

On my next appointment with my oncologist, I asked his office manager, Gemma, about it and she indicated that AFW would want something from the doctor to indicate medical necessity and that she would take care of it.

A few days later, my wife was contacted by AFW saying we were approved for travel and that they would book a flight for us. We just had to let them know where and when! It was a Godsend! They booked a flight for both me and my wife to LA on Alaska Air. They told my wife when we were done with the bone marrow transplant and the doctor released us to go home, to call them for the return trip!

Four months later we called and they booked our return flight again on Alaska Air–no problem! The whole experience was nothing but great!

What did this flight mean for me? Having AFW cover our airfare to and from California from Honolulu was a huge help. Since both my wife and I had to leave work during this whole procedure we had no income, and with the added medical expenses growing that we were incurring, funds were extremely tight. Not having to worry about how we were going to pay for airfare was an enormous relief!






Gaining Altitude: AFW in 2014

We are off to a great start in 2014! Our membership is up 10 percent. Total flights flown are up 17 percent. Flights requested are up eight percent. And most importantly, the number of passengers served is up seven percent. Passengers like one-year-old Zohie M. from Ronan, MT, who suffers from a condition called synostosis, runs the risk of severely stunted growth and development without surgical intervention at Seattle Children’s Hospital because her bones are fused together. Her condition causes her pain, and causes her young parents a lot of fear and anxiety. Angel Flight West offers hope for healing and health by providing the gift of flight needed to help Zohie and family access the medical care they desperately need.

It is incredibly humbling to serve in my new role of Executive Director at AFW because I see stories of indomitable courage and strength like Zohie and her parents every day, and I admire our passengers. In the same way, I admire our amazing pilots and volunteers who generously give of their passion for flying to serve our courageous passengers. I also admire our committed, talented staff and volunteer leadership who balance the busy and sometimes crazy world of our passengers, pilots, health care partners, and patrons to accomplish our mission efficiently and effectively. Between our courageous passengers, our passionate volunteers, and our dedicated staff, we make an amazing team!

Our challenge as we move forward is positioning our organization to serve more people in need of our gifts of flight. We are working hard to evolve our services to make things easier for our passengers, pilots, health care partners, and patrons. As patients become more and more responsible for arranging their own healthcare, we are continually revising our request process to make it easier for our passengers and health care partners. We eliminated member fees and started directly advertising on social media to sign up over 100 new members last month. We created the electronic waiver to make the day of flight simpler for our pilots. We hosted the Endeavor Awards to raise awareness and patronage for public benefit flying. (See pages 2 & 3). We’ve revised our website to help us get information out that is relevant and timely. Later this year, we will be integrating Earth Angels as a user group in AFIDS. This will allow us to recruit volunteer drivers across our region to assist in transportation to and from healthcare, positioning us to offer “curb to curb” service for our passengers. And there is more to come.

Angel Flight West is adapting to the challenges surrounding us while keeping our eyes on our mission. While we are buffeted by winds, we will continue to gain altitude. As we pass 60,000 total flights flown, let’s keep our communication open and the passion for our mission strong. Thank you for making this organization a source of such  impact and inspiration. I’m really looking forward to what we can accomplish in our next 30 years!

‘The Aviators’ To Put The Spotlight On Angel Flight West’

On Wednesday June 11, 2014 by The Global Dispatch news website published an article announcing that Angel Flight West, along with two other public benefit aviation organizations, will be featured in the international hit docuseries “The Aviators.” As the author of this article explains, “The Aviators is an award-winning weekly TV series featuring interesting people, the latest aircraft, the coolest technology and the best fly-in destinations. It’s action, intensity, and adrenalin mixed with education, entertainment, and beauty. The Aviators is about all things aviation – for everyone who has ever gazed skyward.”

Producer and host of the show, Anthony Nalli, explained his inspiration for the upcoming segment: “It is important to put the spotlight on volunteerism in aviation because it has the potential to improve millions of people’s lives by bringing them one step closer to the assistance they need — whether it is medical treatment, disaster relief or in the case of Pilots and Paws, animal rescue. We hope this segment will inspire pilots to reach out with their time, skills and aircraft, and we hope non-pilots will support these organizations in any way they can.”

Make sure to tune in to Season 5, episode 4 of “The Aviators”! We are excited about the opportunity to have Angel Flight West and the good work of our volunteer pilots spotlighted for the series’ audience of over 50 million viewers.

Click the link below to read the full article:

‘The Aviators’ To Put The Spotlight On ‘Angel Flight West’, ‘Archangel Airborne’ And ‘Pilots N Paws’ In Upcoming Episode

2013 Annual Report

Congratulations on another outstanding year for Angel Flight West!

Your help and support in 2013 enabled Angel Flight West to continue its invaluable work in arranging free air transportation to those with critical healthcare or social needs. Our 2013 Annual Report tells our story by the numbers, by the people we serve, and by the donors and pilots who make our “miracles of flight” possible.

This is your organization. Angel Flight West would not be what it was in 2013 without your passionate help and support. Please share this with your family, friends, and community. Help us tell our story so more people can participate in the life changing work we are doing. We can’t wait to see our accomplishments in 2014 and beyond!

annual report

Lightspeed Aviation Foundation Contest

Lightspeed Aviation Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2014 Pilot’s Choice Awards. Angel Flight West has been named one of 15 finalists selected out of hundreds of nominees! The Lightspeed Aviation Foundation will administer grants to the top-voted charity organizations out of these 15 finalists. Selected charities will receive up to $10,000!

Keeping the commitment to providing this crucial resource for passengers requires having in place all of the components needed to make each flight happen. It takes a full time staff to receive, manage, and administer the flood of inquiries and requests, as well as to coordinate volunteers and contact healthcare organizations. It also takes financial resources to make the phone calls, send the faxes, print the forms, create and maintain the website, stay in contact with myriad organizations, coordinate operations among widely distributed Wings, recruit pilots, and to do the dozens of other tasks that make every flight possible. Angel Flight West’s financial support consists of generous gifts from many of our members, our annual golf tournament, and support from a wide away of foundations. This is where you can help us…


About Lightspeed Aviation Foundation

Lightspeed Aviation is a leading manufacturer of premium aviation headsets. Since introducing its first product at EAA AirVenture in 1996, Lightspeed has established a reputation for leading innovation in aviation headsets with a number of first to market advances, including Bluetooth® integration, Auto Shutoff™, and, with Zulu PFX, Streaming Quiet™ ANR. This has earned Lightspeed a loyal customer following among professional, commercial, and private pilots.

Lightspeed also creates shared values with both employees and customers by generously participating in corporate charity matching programs and through its funding of the Lightspeed Aviation Foundation, which supports growth and compassion-related causes with an aviation focus.

“The Pilot’s Choice Awards promotes engagement and awareness for our finalists to pilots and their constituents affected by general aviation.” says Allan Schrader, Lightspeed Aviation president. “By encouraging outreach by our finalists, we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of lives touched through aviation. We’re excited about the impact each of these organizations are having in their areas of service.”

Pilot’s Choice Awards (Foundation Grants)

  • Foundation candidates can be nominated by any member of the aviation community. Nominations run from November through January 31st each year.
  • Applications to apply for the Pilot’s Choice Grant Program are available to fill out November through early February.
  • After a grant application has been processed, grant candidates will be evaluated to assure harmony with the foundation mission and their track record and capacity to leverage the Pilot’s Choice Program.
  • The selected finalists are contacted by Lightspeed Aviation Foundation and an official announcement is made each spring at Sun ‘n Fun.
  • The selection of the top charities will be determined through online voting. One vote per person.
  • Foundation Grants are announced and awarded in November.


We Give Thanks for Many Things

Christian Lybbert flown by command pilot Dale Lamberton 9.24.13
Christian L. flown by command pilot Dale Lamberton 9.24.13

Christian L. was born a healthy little boy on February 28, 2013.  Once home though, his mom worried that his breathing seemed labored and his color wasn’t right–not like the other three babies she’d had.  She was told several times that if he was eating, he was fine. However, at his two-week check-up, Christian was whisked off to the emergency room after the doctors found his oxygen saturation extremely low.  Multiple tests revealed that Christian was suffering with heterotaxy–a disease so rare that it is diagnosed in only one out of every four million births. Babies born with this condition often have organs that are missing, deformed, reversed in their arrangement or misplaced. They diagnosed Christian with a severe heart condition, a missing spleen, multiple organs reversed in the body and duplicates of these. For example, his left lung was where a left lung should be, but was a duplicate of the right lung.

Christian needed very complicated open-heart surgery. While he has great cardiologists near home, the best pediatric cardiac surgeon on the west coast is at Stanford.  With limited resources and the inability to fly commercially due to his compromised immune system, the family would have been forced to drive from Yakima, WA to Palo Alto, CA–a long drive under the best of situations.

Mom, Aimee, was directed to Angel Flight Georgia, and then to AFW from a heterotaxy support page on Facebook.  With a number of challenges both pre- and post-surgery, AFW was able to transport the family.  While we can debate the merits of social media, there isn’t a more meaningful way to use it than the way this family has done. They are thrilled with AFW and Aimee’s Facebook post is the front page article, 10 Reasons We Love AFW. To find out more about Christian and his battle, see his Facebook page at “Christian’s Soldiers.”

Help support free medical transportation with a donation

What if you had a very sick baby and even though life saving medical care was available, it was far from your home and your family didn’t have the resources or the stamina to reach it?


Aimee, the loving Mom of a critically ill little boy, Christian, found a solution. Read her
“Top 10 Reasons why we love Angel Flight West”

10.Fly with AFW and learn to say “niner” instead of “nine.”

9.Christian’s immune system is weak and a commercial flight risked illness. So, it was a 15-hour road trip or AFW.

8.Unlike commercial airlines, AFW lets us bring a cooler of fortified breast milk and medication.

7.We could travel with oxygen tanks.

6.If Christian didn’t do well for any reason, AFW safely landed the plane.

5.The AFW pilot volunteered his time, plane and fuel costs, and was actually Christian’s grandpa’s cardiologist. Who could be better?

4.The views are incredible. Breathtaking. Our pilot was thrilled that AFW gave greater purpose to his beloved hobby.

3.I could send Google map locations, photos and texts during our AFW flight – even as we landed!

2.The AFW pilots flew on Christian’s schedule – even when we had to reschedule.

1.AFW helped us at one of the most stressful moments in our lives, giving us “the lift we needed” to take care of Christian.

Love, Aimee

As you count your own blessings at this time of year, please support AFW with your contribution so we can serve more passengers like the adorable baby Christian. This will give us “the lift we need” so we can help everyone who needs transportation to receive critically important medical treatment.

Your contribution makes it possible to:

  • Recruit volunteer pilots from all over the western states.
  • Get the word out to community services and medical providers that free air transportation is available to all those who need it.
  • Arrange the transportation of passengers to medical care, children’s special needs camps and other humanitarian services

Every dollar you contribute to Angel Flight is matched by four times that amount in donated expenses from volunteer pilots providing transportation to care that improves and saves lives.

Please send your contribution now. Little kids like Christian can’t afford to wait.


In the Hanger: Jill Dannis

Jill Dannis
Jill Dannis

Jill Dannis is one of our newest mission operations coordinators. She originally came to AFW as an intern in the spring of 2011 after seeing a job post from AFW on the Loyola Marymount University student career services website. As an intern that spring, Jill did general office work while also training to be a mission coordinator to assist with the increase in flights over the busy summer months. She worked at AFW as a mission coordinator during the summers of 2011 and 2012, mostly working on summer camp mission coordination. She was offered a full-time position as a mission coordinator upon graduating in May 2013 with a degree in Sociology.

Jill had been heavily involved in community service in college and interested in nonprofits as a result of her studies in sociology, so she was looking to combine her interests. After graduation she thought she might do a year of post-graduate service abroad, but through her previous work at the organization she had “gotten really attached to AFW, so when the offer came it gave me an opportunity of doing service in a more permanent way.”

AFW has also given Jill a chance to “see what a great impact the organization has on both the passengers and pilots–not only the people who are going to treatment, but it also gives meaning to the pilots and what they like to do.” AFW thanks Jill for helping to continue the service we provide.

We Are Thankful

AFW Executive Director, Alan Dias
AFW Executive Director, Alan Dias

As 2013 draws to a close, AFW can take pride in knowing that we have once again positively impacted hundreds of lives and perhaps saved a few.  Giving back by doing something we are passionate about like aviation is a special blessing, and this opportunity is truly something for which we can be thankful.

As a leading volunteer pilot organization, we work closely with other public benefit flying organizations and especially other Angel Flights. After launching AFIDS 2.0 in October of 2012, we offered it free to other organizations.  A user group was formed and today nine organizations are participating in AFIDS’ ongoing improvement. This is contributing to enhanced communication between the groups, which in turn, means helping more people. We can be thankful for this ongoing co-operation.

What we do wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated staff, consultants, and Board of Directors, but especially the hundreds of volunteer pilots throughout our thirteen states. They represent a level of kindness and generosity that speaks to the best in all of us. In the almost twenty years of involvement with AFW, I am constantly amazed and humbled by their selfless generosity. Many times over I hear pilots say that they get back more from their passengers then they give themselves. The spirit and positive attitudes of our passengers is nothing short of inspiring.

It’s not only our pilot volunteers that make us successful, but all our volunteers–our Ground Angels (non-pilot volunteers) and our Earth Angels (those who volunteer to drive our passengers to and from their appointments and sometimes called Auto Pilots). We are thankful for all of them, and it’s this team effort that sets AFW apart.

We are thankful for our hundreds of patrons–the individuals, corporations, and foundations that support AFW financially. It takes close to 1.3 million dollars a year to arrange the missions, recruit the pilots, and do the outreach to publicize our mission and to cover the overhead of the office.  Without the financial support of our patrons we wouldn’t be able arrange free air transportation to those in need.

What we do is unique as a non-profit. We utilize a resource called general aviation, and along with our commercial airline partners dramatically and positively impact thousands of lives.

As the year draws to a close, I want to personally thank all those who make our mission possible. It’s a privilege to be AFW’s Executive Director.

Blue Skies and Tailwinds,

Alan Dias,
Executive Director