John Billings Volunteer Angel Flight Mid Atlantic Pilot
At the ripe young age of 94, World War II pilot John Billings is still flying, and with a copilot friend, transporting medical patients to treatments. Continue reading “John Billings: World War II Pilot Now a Medical Flight ‘Angel’”
Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic Flies a “Triple Mission” for Owen
It was a “triple mission” with Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic. The same pilot (Frank) flew all three legs of the flight. He started in Kentucky, stopped midway in Ohio, and completed the mission in Boston. Owen was treated at Boston Children’s Hospital.
The patient was a 1 year old boy with laryngeal cleft, named Owen. Laryngeal cleft is where the wall between the esophagus and the larynx has a defect. This can lead to difficulties with eating and drinking. It can even start respiratory infections from food going into the lungs rather than into the digestive system. Food would consistently “go down the wrong tube” – causing him to choke whenever he ate.
Imagine if when you ate or drank, everything “went down the wrong tube.” Think of all the complications that would cause. Choking, gagging, and vomiting are just the start. When food and drink goes into the lungs, it can lead to frequent respiratory infections and lung disease. This scenario was the reality for one-year-old Owen and his parents. Owen was born with laryngeal cleft – a rare disease where the barrier between his larynx and esophagus is deformed. It was painful and he had trouble feeding,
Trying to travel from Kentucky to Boston was almost impossible. If he flew commercially, it would cost around $4,000! That wasn’t the only obstacle; trying to get through security with medical devices would have been a traveler’s nightmare. Lacking medical accommodations would make it even more difficult. “I don’t even want to think about driving that distance,” he added.
Luckily, Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic was able to help. A volunteer pilot named Frank took on the challenge of a triple mission, or three-leg flight. He flies a Beechcraft Baron, which he uses for both Angel Flight missions and veteran airlifts. “Owen was just like any other kid,” Frank said. He stated that volunteer pilots are in a win-win situation: “You can help people out and do what you love.” Brian adds to this: “Frank was awesome! Very sociable.”
To many, Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic is hard to describe in one word. Brian uses three words: “Amazing, exceptional, miracle.” It’s children like Owen and pilots like Frank who keep us flying high.
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