Angel Flight helps make medical care accessible for veterans

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 8:45 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Veteran’s Cafe serves up all kinds of food and all kinds of stories.

But on Wednesday, a handful of veterans didn’t just share their experiences - but they also learned about the Angel Flight

“It gives people who have a financial need to get the best of medical care,” said Jeffrey Heal, a retired pilot.

The Angel Flight was started at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta nearly 40 years ago and serves patients from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The organization logged 3,500 flights last year, taking patients to treatments, surgeries and other medical appointments.

While medical care isn’t always around the corner, Angel Flight helps veterans get to far-away destinations for free.

Bobby Tyner, a retired 53rd Combat Demolition Engineer, said he saw many Angel Flights and remarked on how beautiful it was to see comrades flying away.

“It’s something that I’m glad and very happy to learn that if I need to and it’s very possible that I might have to because I am an Agent Orange victim,” said Tyner, who’s also a state board representative with the Orange Heart Medal Foundation. “I am a survivor, but I still have problems.”

The pilots on the team volunteer with their own planes, their own fuel, and dedicate their time to show veterans they care.

To fly for Angel Flight Soars, pilots are required a minimum of 250 Pilot In Command hours along with an instrument rating.

Most flights are flown in a single-engine, four-seat aircraft, and are within a 300–400-mile radius of the pilot’s home base airport.

“The last flight I made, we took a wife of an Army Helicopter Pilot back to her home in south Alabama. She suffered a bone break and spent some time at the Shepard Spinal Center in Atlanta. It’s very satisfying to see people improve their health,” said Heal.

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