Flight Following 
the official newsletter of the Air Care Alliance

Welcome to Flight Following! We will periodically publish Flight Following on our website and also send it directly via email in order to make sending and receiving it as convenient as possible for everyone. 

This journal is intended for volunteer pilots, group leaders, other volunteers, professional staff, and all those interested in the incredible world of public benefit flying! Feel free to pass it along to others. We hope it provides useful information making it easier for those who use aviation in public service do a better and more enjoyable job of flying to help others! 

Welcome to Flight FollowingIn the past all copies have been mailed directly to recipients.  More recently we have sent bulletins and announcements by email.  

We now publish Flight Following on our website and also send it directly via email in order to make sending and receiving it as convenient as possible for everyone. 

Each issue will start with an index of stories and you will be able to see easily which items are of most interest to you, and to jump directly to them.  In addition we will provide links to important new pages or to information we have added to our website or found on others. And as always we will also send bulletins and announcements via email.

This journal is intended for volunteer pilots, group leaders, other volunteers, professional staff, and all those interested in the incredible world of public benefit flying! Feel free to pass it along to others. We hope it provides useful information that makes it easier for those who use aviation in public service do a better and more enjoyable job of flying to help others!

For the Board of Directors,
Rol MurrowChairman

In This Issue:

1)   Save the Date: your Air Care 2003 conference May 3, hosted by LifeLine Pilots

2)   In the Media: A nice story about volunteer pilot flying on AVweb

3)  “Flight Explorer” saves the day – and may have saved a life!

4)   Four groups link a flight – Volunteer Pilots Association, LifeLine Pilots,
AirLifeLine, and Angel Flight Northeast 

5)  “Been There – Done That” 

6)   Watch for your group’s renewal information        


1:  Save the Date!


AIR CARE 2003: the Annual Conference of the Air Care Alliance

Saturday, May 3, 2003  Hosted by LifeLine Pilots

At the Holiday Inn City Center, Peoria, Illinois – Main Airport: PIA
Area GA Airport: Mount Hawley: 3MY

Doug Vincent Leads a Seminar – Air Care 2002  

We are happy to announce that this year’s annual conference Air Care 2003 will be held at the Holiday Inn City Center, on May 3, 2003, in Peoria IL. Join us for a full day of seminars, speakers, networking, and socializing with your fellow volunteers, hosted by LifeLine Pilots.

The schedule and registration form with hotel and local transportation information will be available soon and posted on our website www.aircareall.org, and circulated to our newsletter and announcement email list. Send a note to newsletter@aircareall.org to get put on the list!

Peoria, IL (PIA) is served by American Eagle, United Express, Northwest, and the Delta Connection, via major air carrier hubs in Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. The local  GA Airport is Mount Hawley: (3MY). The Holiday Inn runs both scheduled and by arrangement shuttle vans to and from the airport. Byerly Aviation is open 24/7. A rental car should NOT be necessary.

Some conference topics will include: 

bullet HIPPA- the federal act that gives us the burden of safeguarding medical and personal information.
bullet More development and fundraising tips and resources
bullet A noted media producer tells what the media needs to tell our stories
bullet Liability and Liability insurance updates
bullet Mission Coordinators’ Breakout Sessions – a chance to meet in person those folks on the phone with whom you arrange linked flights!
bullet Medical certificate issues

Some of the Delegates – Air Care 2001

Other topics to come….. plus an informal banquet and other meals with your peers.

What are YOUR pressing issues or questions?  Tell us now and we may be able to have an expert address them at the conference!  Send an email to aircare2003@aircareall.org.

Any immediate conference questions or concerns can be directed to Julie Puckett at 309-697-6865309-697-6865 or Julie@lifelinepilots.org.


2:  Media Watch: AVweb

We were contacted before the holidays by AVweb, the national aviation web magazine.  They wanted to do a story about how volunteer plot groups serve the community.  We provided them general information about all the kinds of work being performed and directed them to the groups listed on the Air Care Alliance Listings page.  

The result: a very nice story entitled  GA’s Year-Round Holiday Cheer — Complete With Angels…

You can see it for yourself at http://www.avweb.com/newswire/8_52b/leadnews/181988-1.html

Thank you AVweb!

    (for other stories about public benefit flying published in the past visit our News Page.)

3:  “Flight Explorer” saves the day – and may have saved a life!

We thought you would enjoy the following letter sent to Mike Ficklin of Flight Explorer, which is a flight tracking service provided at no cost to Air Care Alliance listed groups.


I can’t express enough how beneficial FLIGHT EXPLORER has been to us and the quality of life, indeed life itself, for the people we fly. To illustrate this, I will relate a recent mission we flew that was successful only because of FLIGHT EXPLORER. 

On October 9, 2002 I received a call at 6:30 am from Dave M, a 40 year old man who lives near Syracuse NY (SYR). Dave was at the top of the transplant list in Pittsburgh PA for a double Lung transplant. Dave had just got the call from his transplant coordinator that there was a perfect matched pair of 16 yr. old lungs available and that he needed to be in Pittsburgh by 11:30 am (Lungs have a four hour window from the time they’re extracted to be implanted). 

I was able to get a pilot from New Jersey willing to fly to Syracuse (157 nm), then fly Dave to Pittsburgh (238 nm). The pilot said that he would be in Syracuse by 9 am. At about 9:30 am I booted up FLIGHT EXPLORER to track the flight inbound from Syracuse to Pittsburgh and found that the pilot, through unfortunate, unavoidable delays, only departed New Jersey around 9:20 with an ETA at Syracuse of 11 am, which would put the patient in Pittsburgh close to 1 pm. 

I then spoke to the transplant coordinator and was told that 1 pm would be well past the useful life of the organs and that since it was currently past the point of offering them to the next recipient on the transplant list, the organs would have to be discarded and Dave would have to go back to waiting, hoping that he lived long enough for another matched pair to become available. 

I immediately called the FBO in Syracuse and asked at the front desk if they had any pilot in their lobby right then that would be willing to fly Dave to Pittsburgh right away. As luck would have it, pilot Jeff Rubenstein of AirLifeLine happened to be standing there and was willing to fly Dave to Pittsburgh right away in his Baron. Jeff landed at AGC in Pittsburgh around 11:40 am where a waiting ambulance whisked Dave to the hospital to successfully receive two new lungs. 

If it weren’t for FLIGHT EXPLORER a perfect matched set of lungs would have been discarded, Dave would not have gotten his transplant, and he possibly may not have lived long enough for another pair to come available. 


Kevin Sell President
Volunteer Pilots Association


reply from Mike Ficklin of Flight Explorer: 

Wow! Thanks for sharing this story with me. I have forwarded it to the staff and have had a great reaction. Stories like this really help to inspire the crew and let them know that the work they do really has helped someone. Thanks again for your efforts and the selfless work your organization does. Take care, 


(Note: Working with the Air Care Alliance, Flight Explorer has very generously offered to provide one copy of its flight tracking service to the headquarters office of each coordinating office for volunteer pilot groups listed by the Air Care Alliance.  If your group has not yet arranged for a copy, please contact Mike Ficklin at Flight Explorer, mficklin@flightexplorer.com phone and fax: 310-798-6915)

4): Four groups link a flight –
Volunteer Pilots Association,
LifeLine Pilots, AirLifeLine,
and Angel Flight Northeast 

“Pitching In ”  

by Kevin Sell, Volunteer Pilots Association

Ok, here’s the question, “How do you move, on short notice, a very sick, very fragile three month old baby, mom, dad and grandma from Illinois to Boston, MA (746 nm) and do it during the highly unpredictable winter weather in the northeast?” 

The answer? “You ask your friends and neighbors!”

Denise T. called me on Saturday afternoon with a plea for help. Her great nephew, three month old Nathan, was born with “complex cyanotic congenital heart disease” and recently given only two more months to live. The doctors were unable to do anything further for him, but arranged for baby Nathan to be seen by the doctors at Boston’s Children’s hospital who agreed to see if there was anything they could do. 

The appointment in Boston was scheduled for early Friday morning so he needed to be there on Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving, with the tentative return set for two days later. Nathan was on oxygen and a myriad of medications, including morphine if necessary to keep him calm, to be administered by mom (19) or dad (23).

On Monday I called my neighbors, LifeLine Pilots, AirLifeLine and Angel Flight NE, explained the situation, and asked for help arranging for pilots with weather capable aircraft willing to fly baby Nathan. Less than 24 hours later everything was set up! 

John Bell (LifeLine Pilots) would pick up baby Nathan, mom, dad and grandma on Thursday morning in Waukegan IL (UGN) and fly them to Lancaster PA (LNS) in his C340. John linked at (LNS) with Dick Miller (AirLifeLine) and his Jetprop, who flew them to Bedford MA (BED). In Bedford they were met by Nancy Pineau, an Earth Angel volunteer with Angel Flight NE who drove the family to the hospital.

For the return on Saturday, a Citation (VPA) was to fly the family from Boston to Pittsburgh, PA where they would transfer to a King Air (LifeLine Pilots) for the rest of the trip back to Waukegan. Unfortunately, baby Nathan developed complications from a medical procedure done in Boston and the surgeons decided to perform surgery. On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Nathan underwent heart surgery.

Two weeks later Nathan’s mother, Amanda, called to say that he was doing great and that he would be released the next day. This time it only took about one hour to get the return transport arranged! Nathan and family were picked up at Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) by Joe Waldman (VPA) in his Bonanza and flown to Readington NJ – Solberg (N51) where they boarded Cliff Evans (VPA) Jetprop and flew to Detroit MI (YIP). They then transferred to Mike Keenums’ (LifeLine) King Air for the last leg back to Waukegan.

For the first time in Nathan’s life he no longer needs to be on supplemental oxygen, and instead of a two month life expectancy he is looking at the possibility of a long and full life, albeit with more surgeries over the next couple of years.

I recently received the following “Thank You” from Denise, Nathan’s great aunt. Although it was addressed to me, it belongs to everyone:

“It’s New Years Eve and what a way to end the year – with a ‘Big Thank You’ for all the hard work you’ve done for my great nephew Nathan and his family. There are no words to describe the work you and the group of pilots in your association do. You are all remarkable people and you should all be proud of who you all are. You never know who’s out there until something like this happens to your family, then somehow God lets you find people who go to any length to make things happen. I could go on and on and you’d probably love that, but words are hard to find. I could never thank you and the people who made Nathan’s journey possible enough. It was great to see him cry and nobody running around to turn up his oxygen or medicate him, but most of all to see him smile. He still has a rough road ahead, but with people like you that road is smoother.

“Best of all to you in 2003 -“

Denise Tomasello

5:  Been There, Done That. – by Chris Pfaff

Since I was already just about to leave the house to do a practice flight for my upcoming flight instructor test, it was an easy decision to change from that plan to Valerie’s need the very moment I got “the call.” Having flown several flights under theCompassion call sign, this would be my first flight for the Volunteer Pilots Association under the call sign, “Lifeguard,” reserved for an urgent flight regarding someone’s life. 

So the new plan was to fly Valerie to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where, in just a few short hours, she would receive a double-lung transplant. And yes, I was especially thrilled to fly this mission.

When we first met after I landed to pick her up, Valerie was in the lobby hugging her friends good-bye and crying, presumably for fear of the unknown that naturally goes along with the very serious kind of surgery she was about to undergo. I introduced myself, “Hi! I’m Chris, your pilot, and I’ve had two liver transplants myself! You’ll be fine!” Immediately her tears stopped! 

By the time we were an hour into the flight, she and the friend who accompanied her were laughing and having a great time! Granted, it was the smoothest, calmest, prettiest flight I have ever encountered, but I’m sure there was a good deal of confidence gained by seeing and talking with someone who was walking around healthy who really had “been there and done that!” (Thank You, Lord Jesus!) Hopefully she will join me in having the same kind of post-transplant success that everyone involved hopes for their patients!

Speaking of everyone involved, it really struck me how many people it takes to get someone to their transplant. Besides her doctor, the group included VPA coordinator Kevin Sell, the student pilot who gave up his lesson to let me take the plane he was planning to use, my friend Tony in the control tower, Wayne who helped me park the plane, four other controllers, the gas pumper, and half-a-dozen others whose names are unknown but who were in the chain of helpers, – and then Kevin Sell again. He met us in Pittsburgh to drive Veronica to the hospital. We both thank you all.

Note: Chris Pfaff had his first Liver transplant on July 2, 1998, when that one failed shortly after, a second Liver transplant was performed on July 11, 1998. Since his transplant, Chris has gone on to get his Private through CFI and Multi ratings

(See http://www.aircareall.org/callsign.htm for information about the COMPASSION and LIFEGUARD call signs)

6:  Watch for your group’s renewal information

We are just about to mail out our annual requests for updated group information for our listings, as well as renewal forms for the Air Care Alliance Member groups.  We list all bona fide groups, whether Members or not. However we do appreciate the support of those who share our vision of fellowship in helping others. Membership in the Air Care Alliance indicates to other groups, their volunteers, and to the world at large that a group values working in cooperation with other charitable aviation organizations to improve all groups’ mission of service to patients, communities, and the volunteers who wish to help them. 

If your group does not receive its package shortly, or wishes to send updated information or to renew now, please download the forms on our Forms Page on the website.

Also please check your group’s information on our Listings Page to verify it is complete and correct.

Our thanks to all the volunteers and group leaders who work so hard flying to help others!

             The Flight Following Editor and the Directors of the Air Care Alliance        

SUBSCRIBE to Flight Following by sending a request to: newsletter@aircareall.org 
Please feel free to forward this newsletter or the link http://www.aircareall.org/ff-0301.htm to other members of your group and to anyone else interested in public benefit flying.