LifeLine Pilots shares the secret to its 230% growth over the last four years…collaboration!

“Collaboration is one of LifeLine Pilots’ six core values,” says Lindsey Kerr, Executive Director of LifeLine Pilots. “We know that we are strongest when working together towards the common goal of helping people in need of long-distance transportation.”

During recent years, LifeLine Pilots has demonstrated that value in action by expanding their partnerships with other volunteer pilot organizations (VPOs). In the past two years, LifeLine Pilots has worked with and been helped by the following organizations:

Angel Flight Central
Angel Flight East
Angel Flight Soars
Angel Flight South Central
Angel Flight Southeast
Corporate Angel Network
Houston Ground Angels
Mercy Medical Angels/Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic
PALS Skyhope
Pilots for Patients
Wings of Mercy (Michigan UP)

Long time partner, Angel Flight East (AFE), is a great example of how two volunteer pilot organizations can work together to make a difference in the lives of more people in need of transportation. The partnership works through frequent and detailed communication with a commitment to the mission, above all.

“Our shared goal is to help people in their time of need,” says Ann Rude, Senior Mission Coordinator for LifeLine Pilots. “We constantly remind ourselves that it is not about us, it’s about helping the passenger. We check our ego at the door and focus on what is best for the passenger.”

Collaboration between LifeLine Pilots and AFE made it possible for Ryan to beat cancer. He came to AFE with stage 4 prostate cancer. Following two years of many flights to treatment, he was scanned cancer free. Between the two organizations he flew 34 legs, sometimes at the last minute.

“I am happy no matter who fills the flight,” says Rude. “If an AFE pilot can fly our passenger or vice versa, I’m celebrating either way. It means another person can access life-saving medical care.”

Even last-minute flights are coordinated between the two organizations. In August 2022, AFE sent LifeLine Pilots a request to share a flight to fly a family home with their deceased infant. They needed to travel from CHOP in Philadelphia to their home in Iowa. Because of the strong relationship between the two organizations and the good communication and trust, this flight was coordinated overnight. When the LifeLine Pilots’ volunteer pilot offered to fly the entire route, both organizations rejoiced that the family could have a non-stop flight to bring their baby home for their final goodbyes.

LifeLine Pilots believes that the secret to working together includes the following:

  • Focus on passengers first, pilots a very close second, and organization last – It’s not about what’s best for us, it’s about what is best for the passenger.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – There is bound to be miscommunication and mistakes, but addressing them quickly keeps issues from escalating.
  • Friendly but professional relationships with fellow Mission Coordinators – Picking up the phone to call a person means so much more than calling an organization. LifeLine Pilots values the mentoring that takes place within these relationships.
  • Meet in person – The ACA conferences strengthen these relationships and allow for better and stronger collaboration between VPOs.

“When we develop trust between VPOs we become an extension of each other and it means the passengers win,” says Kerr. “We can’t work in a silo and LifeLine Pilots is incredibly grateful for our VPO sister organizations that make it possible to help people who need to travel outside of our region.”