Pilot makes first Angel Flight

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A pilot at the Brookhaven Municipal Airport has volunteered hiswings to serve as an angel for people needing air transport tomedical facilities.

Paul Barnett joined the national organization Angel FlightFriday and carried his first patient Monday.

“I’m very new to Angel Flight,” he said. “My first mission istoday.”

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The pilot wanted to help others. When he heard about the AngelFlight organization, Barnett said it seemed to be a naturalfit.

“I wanted to be able to donate my resources for flying to aworthy cause,” he said. “Pilots donate their time and aircraft totransport patients for medical care. It’s stateside missionary workfor me.”

Lewis “Eddie” Brewer, of Terry, said he was very appreciative ofBarnett’s efforts on his behalf. Brewer was diagnosed with kidneycancer and has already seen doctors in Houston, Vanderbilt andBaton Rouge, among others.

Monday, Brewer was making his second visit to the Cancer Therapyand Research Center in San Antonio, Texas, after being told hewould have to travel to the hospital every two weeks fortreatment.

“If it weren’t for Angel Flight, I’d have to pay for a flighteach time,” Brewer said. “That would be expensive.”

Angel Flight provides free transportation for those with acompelling need, Barnett said. He volunteered to get Brewer to GregCounty, Texas, where another pilot would meet them and take thepatient on to San Antonio.

Each flight is broken into “legs” of no more than 300 mileseach, Barnett said, to cut the individual costs to the donatingpilots. The total operating cost of a 300-mile leg to the pilotvaries depending on the aircraft, but Barnett said each flightcosts him between $300-400 in fuel, insurance and maintenance.

Once Brewer is transferred to the second pilot in Texas, Barnettsaid, his responsibility is over. Other pilots will bring Brewerhome or he will have to arrange a commercial flight or other methodof travel for the return trip.

“I can select the return trip, but I’m not committed to thatunless I choose to be and volunteer for it also,” Barnett said.”Each individual leg counts as one mission flight.”

Angel Flight pilots select their missions based on theirschedules and the number of flights they want to make from a triplist on the organization’s Web site.

“You’re not committed to anything until you sign up on thatlist,” he said.

People in need of medical attention can have their names addedto the list by contacting volunteers at the Angel Flight offices,Barnett said.

“The important thing is that patients contact Angel Flight andnot the pilots,” he said. “Angel Flight coordinates the trips.”

For more information on Angel Flight, call (972) 458-0700 orvisit the Web site at www.angelflightsc.org.