WESTFIELD , Mass. (WGGB) –Angel Flights have been taking off and landing at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport for a number of years. In that time, Manager Brian Barnes has gotten to know some of the pilots who volunteer for the non-profit organization. “We don’t always notice that they’re here unless you see an ambulance or vehicle pull up, you would never know that they’re around. They’re very humble people, they’re very gracious, they give of their time and all their equipment,” he said.
Which is why he was saddened when he learned that one of their planes that took off from Bedford Friday, crashed in Ephratah, New York, killing 2 people on board.
Angel Flights’ volunteer pilots use their own planes to transport sick people free of charge, to hospitals around the country.
They land at Barnes to take patients to Springfield’s Shriner’s Hospital for Children.
While the FAA and NTSB are still investigating the cause of the crash, Barnes says planes like the ones Angel Flight uses are still subjected to the same safety regulations as commercial airliners. “They get inspected by the FAA, people that work on their airplanes have to be certified, and inspected on a regular basis, as do the pilots, they have to go and take biennial reviews.
Starting in 1996 Angel Flights has given more than 65,000 free flights and medical care to both adults and children.
Shriners Hospitals for children in Springfield has utilized Angel Flight for years predominantly to transport patients from Maine to our hospital for treatment. We are very grateful this service exists and appreciate the generosity of the pilots in volunteering their time and covering all costs associated with transporting not only our patients, but others in need of expert medical care as well. It is a wonderful organization with a mission very similar to our own – to help those in need of medical care regardless