A local mother who has had cause to use the services of Angel Flight to gain access to medical treatment for two of her children cannot speak more highly of the service.
Angela Cox and her seven year old daughter Phoenix hitched a ride with Angel Flight pilot Neville Page from Bankstown on Sunday to Sydney so that Phoenix could access medical treatment at the Royal Far West.
“It’s a godsend for rural people,” Angela said of the Angel Flight/Earth Angel service.
Established in 2003, 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 distances and high travel costs.
All flights are free and Angel Flight pilots volunteer their time, their skills and the majority of their aircraft costs for each flight.
Earth Angels then convey the passengers from the airport to where they need to go for treatment.
“It’s not the first time I’ve used Angel Flight,” Angela told The Cobar Weekly.
“My eldest son had Pancreatitis and we had to go back down to Randwick [Children’s Hospital] for check-ups.
“The social worker referred us to Angel Flight and without them we would have been buggered,” she said.
Since then Angela’s been on a few more Angel Flights with Phoenix making her 8th trip for medical services on Sunday.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what’s going on with Phoenix. She’s being assessed for ADHD/Asperger’s on that spectrum,” Angela said.
“We’ve been going there since 2016.
“Angel Flight have been unreal, if they can’t get us there they try and find the means.
“The pilots are doing it off their own back, using their own planes, their own money and volunteer their time as well,” Angela said.
“They make sure that everything is smooth, they make sure that you’re happy, the children are happy. I can’t thank them enough.”
Angela said while Phoenix enjoys flying she does get a bit anxious before their trips.
“She loves flying but it’s just that when we go to leave home her anxiety jumps through the roof and she gets really, really upset, but once we’re up in the air she’s fine.”
Sunday’s trip was the second time the pair had flown with their Angel Flight pilot, Neville Page.
On their last trip together when they were still 45 minutes out of Sydney and Phoenix needed to go to the toilet, Neville graciously put the plane down at Parkes so Phoenix could use the toilet.
Neville is one of 3,263 registered Angel Flight volunteer pilots.
He runs an air-conditioning business at Bankstown Airport and now that he’s semi retired he said he likes to do at least two Angel Flights a month. He’s now clocked up 36 missions for Angel Flight.
“I like to help,” Neville told The Cobar Weekly.
He said over the years he saw a lot of his friends become Angel Flight pilots and now that he employs a staff of 29 it allows him to have two or three days off a week and so he’s got the time to help out.
Neville explained that to volunteer as an Angel Flight pilot you need to be an instrument rated pilot and he’s re-tested each year.
Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani said pilots like Neville are the backbone of the Angel Flight community and without them they wouldn’t exist.
“Neville gets to do something he loves while helping people who really need help.
“36 volunteer flights is an outstanding contribution to the community and Neville has made a huge difference to the lives of many rural and regional people going through difficult times,” Ms Pagani said.