Sherwood Probus Club’s Guest speaker for June was Barry Collis, OAM – an Earth Angel for Angel Flight. Angel Flight is not to be confused with Care Flight or the Flying Doctors. They do not carry medical equipment or offer medical services. According to the Angel Flight website Angel Flight Australia is a charity which coordinates non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them because of vast distance and high travel costs.
Their role is to transport people to major centres so they can access medical treatment. Barry explained that Angel Flight was started by Bill Bristow, a former pilot, based on a scheme he saw in the USA.
Anyone requiring assistance from Angel Flight has to complete an application form, which is authorised by a registered health officer or social worker. It can take up to a week to coordinate air and land transport. We heard many examples of people who had been helped, including one passenger who had made 32 trips from Chinchilla to Brisbane for dialysis treatment. The longest flight arrangement involved 4 planes to transport a passenger between Coolangatta and Hobart.
Australia-wide Angel Flight has 3362 pilots who supply and maintain their own aircraft, and 4607 Earth Angels, who meet incoming flights and take passengers either to hospitals or their accommodation. Pilots who offer services on behalf of Angel Flight only receive reimbursement for petrol – this consumes approximately 80% of their funds. Everyone is a volunteer. The service receives no government funding and relies on donations and some fundraising by supporters. It does not pay for advertising itself – costs of any advertising are donated.
Barry’s presentation included photos of the many types of planes used by volunteer pilots. These included Cessna 18L and Cirrus SR22.
Club member Brian thanked Barry for his talk which highlighted the wonderful service that Angel Flight offers to the Australian community and presented him with our Certificate of Appreciation and gift.