Regina Farmer is with Chem-Man Online and an Ag Air Update contributor
There’s no shortage of bad news in the world today so I thought it would be nice to focus on something that I find very inspirational. A couple of years ago I dropped by to see long time Chem-Man customer, Charlie Adams with Adams Flying Service in Rayville, LA. My husband and I stopped by his shop and he mentioned that he was preparing for an upcoming trip to Houston and “nosy me” had to ask more. Charlie said he was part of the “Pilots for Patients” program in which pilots volunteer to take patients who are in need of transportation to their medical treatment destinations.
Charlie choked up as he talked about it and said that he was proud to do his Christian duty. I was really fascinated by Charlie’s passion to help others as well as learning more about the group. He told me that approx. 5 years ago he had attended a Pilots for Patients banquet with a friend and after hearing testimonies from patients, he “cried like a baby”. He vowed if he could buy a plane to help these patients, that’s what he’d use it for. A month later a friend called and said he was selling a 182 Cessna and he bought it! “It’s my belief that I have an abundance of blessings and our blessings aren’t ours to keep. They’re to give away. My blessing is my plane, my fuel and my time. We will not take money or gifts from a patient in exchange for their flights.” He also stated that the pilots feel so inspired by the courage of the patients that they get more out of the experience than the patients. “You think you’re dealing with a lot in your life until you hear some of their stories and their outlook on life is better than your own. It’s a humbling experience.”
Charlie averages about 20 missions a year, totaling 132 missions so far and already has 3 lined up for the week. He gave me the contact info for the groups founder, Philip Thomas and I gave him a call to learn more.
Philip was such a nice man to talk to and you could tell he was excited about the program.
Apparently there are 59 other groups like P for P in the United States such as “Angel Flights”. Philip was a board member of “Angel Flight of Texas”. He grew up in a navy family and always dreamed of becoming a pilot. He recalled his first mission when a lady’s husband was in a bad accident in another state and she had missed her flight to get to him. Due to expenses she couldn’t afford to charter a flight. He said, “I’m going to fly you up”.
After Katrina hit, Philip saw a big need to focus on the Louisiana area and decided to create a group to do so (Pilots for Patients). They are based in Monroe and have other volunteers that help with the logistics such as coordinating trips and ground angel volunteers who help transport the patients in their personal cars to the hospital.
Philip said we consist of 3 P’s “Pilots, Patients and Patrons”. The patrons are those who donate monetarily or with in kind services such as oil and other transportation expenses. He mentioned that they started out with 5 pilots and have grown to 143 pilots and the need is still growing. They are averaging 15-30 flights a week.
He stated “It’s all about helping your friends and neighbors. You realize you don’t have problems when you fly these patients that are fighting for their lives”.
He said “There are 69 airports in the state of LA. My dream is to have 3-4 pilots at each airport”.
According to the groups Facebook post:
Pilots for Patients is a 501(c) 3 non-profit volunteer pilot organization based in Monroe, LA. Our mission is to provide free air transportation to those patients needing diagnosis and treatments at medical facilities not available to them locally. We provide these services to patients in Louisiana and surrounding areas.
The mission of Pilots for Patients is to assist those in need of air transportation for medical purposes. The goal is to eliminate the burden of travel and to let the patient concentrate on getting better.
Pilots for Patients provides this service completely free of charge for qualified patients and requesting agencies. The pilot volunteers donate their time and aircraft which they own or rent.
Qualified patients are those needing help getting to a medical facility for diagnosis or treatment that is not available locally. This need may be financial, medical, or logistical. They must be ambulatory and medically stable to make the flight.
PFP serves patients needing travel assistance to medical facilities such as M.D. Anderson in Houston, St. Jude in Memphis, TN, and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR as well as other medical centers.
I noticed many wonderful testimonials that go on and on. Here’s just one example:
“It is amazing that this organization's mission is to support and help patients get to their medical appointments. The Pilots for Patients program is a wonderful team of caring people. Thanks to your group for your compassion to help patients!!!!”
From looking at the smiles of the pilots and patients in the Facebook posts, it seems the pilots get as much out of it as the patients do. You can tell that the pilots genuinely care about the patients and their medical journey.
Charlie, Philip and their friends are true angels that are really helping to make a difference. They don’t do it for recognition. They do it because it’s the right thing to do.
For more information on Pilots for Patients: