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.