Our flight today had us rolling down runway 22 at 0600 as the sun was about to peak above the Blue Ridge Mountains. After liftoff we turned northeast heading for Philadelphia PA where we would meet our little passenger Evelyn and her mom Sarah. Even though Evelyn is dealing with a serious condition (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) you would never know it when you lay your eyes on her smiling face ! (So much strength and inspiration in such a small package !) You just want to hug her until she pops when you meet her !
Our flight conditions at 7000 feet to Philadelphia were very smooth with fantastic views of the morning sun greeting another new day. We arrived ahead of schedule and while waiting for Evelyn and her mom to arrive we received a call from them informing us that their driver had taken them to the wrong airport ! (Philadelphia International instead of Philadelphia Northeast !) Once they arrived we walked out to greet them and our hearts were immediately warmed seeing the wonderful smile on Evelyn’s face as she hopped out of the car ! (Such a precious little girl !)
Todays journey for them would be a long one (from Philadelphia PA all the way to Grand Rapids MI) ….. being accomplished by 3 individual Angel Flights. Our leg, being the first, would take them from Philadelphia PA to Akron Ohio….. the next leg would continue them onto Chicago IL where their final leg would finish out at Grand Rapids MI….. ( all total covering over 1000 nautical miles !) Today was their journey back home from being in Philadelphia since last week for Evelyn’s appointments…. (Captain John had a part in getting them to Philly last week …… See ” Angel Flight Pilots Working Together To Make It Happen ” )
Once we loaded up and received our IFR clearance we departed Philadelphia Northeast heading for Akron Ohio. At this point we were slightly behind schedule (We had already informed Rob, the second leg Angel Flight Pilot of our delay). We actually had another slight delay before being cleared for takeoff…… as we taxied towards runway 6, an airplane had just landed with some type of problem, which left him disabled along the runway, so the tower gave us new taxi instructions to allow us to depart from runway 33. During this time and after liftoff, Evelyn was very happy about flying and she was having a lot of fun playing with the pink stuffed dragon that had been awaiting her in her seat…..but then, only a few moments later, she was fast asleep and continued a nice nap for most of our flight (This was probably a very good thing due to the long day her and her mom would have getting home) Our flight conditions heading to Akron were overall very good at 4000 feet (We normally would not fly this low, but due to Evelyn’s dependence on supplemental oxygen and the fact that we are not pressurized, we needed to stay fairly low) We had a very slight headwind (Thanks to being low) and the ride for the most part was smooth…. with a few bumps (pot holes) over the mountains, visibility was very good. At one point ATC wanted us at 6000 feet, but once they were informed about our needs they ask if we could do 5000 feet, to which we complied and all was good. (We think the Guys and Gals of ATC….. “Air Traffic Control” ….. are really a Great Bunch, and try very hard to work with you when they can !) Flight time getting to Akron was 2.8 hours covering 307 nautical miles.
Once Akron Fulton was in sight we canceled our IFR and made a visual approach and landed on runway 7. Rob (Evelyn and Sarah’s next Angel Flight Pilot) and his co-pilot were waiting for them with their Cessna 210. After exchanging greetings and introductions we were greeted inside of Summit Air by Reagan (the very nice young lady behind the desk) that informed us that nice warm cookies were waiting to be enjoyed ! (She won our hearts…. and ok… maybe our stomachs !) To say in the least, her hospitality was top notch. (We keep a special list of all airports that have cookies waiting for incoming pilots !) After getting several photos and saying our goodbyes…. (which was hard, we really wanted to bring Evelyn home with us !) we boarded up and departed Akron from runway 7, planning on getting our IFR clearance in the air…. but…. due to the delays our clearance was void (past time) so we ask for and received flight following. At that point we headed on up to 9500 feet where we took advantage of a 40 knot tailwind (giving us a ground speed that at some points reached over 190 MPH !) After reaching our cruise altitude John broke out the “IAP” (In Air Picnic) of which we very much enjoyed while watching out from the best office view in the world. Flight conditions home were very smooth with the great tailwinds and only the slightest wave action once over the mountains. Once over the Beautiful Shenandoah Valley we canceled our flight following and descended into Luray landing on runway 4. After tucking 49Bravo back into her hanger we enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and then began what would be our 2nd most dangerous part of the day (heading home)….. the 1st most dangerous part of the day was heading to the airport early that morning (in the dark) ! Such a joy to have met Evelyn, what an inspiration to us and to anyone that has had the pleasure to meet her ! ……… we wish her the very best that life has to offer !
Todays total flight time was 5.9 hours covering 503 nautical miles over 5 states. (This was Angel Flight number 370 for Captain John and Angel Flight Number 258 me “Nevin”) Our next flight will be to attend an Angel Flight Pilots get together in Norfolk on Saturday May 13th put on by Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic (there is rumor that we are to be the Guest of Honor !)
Following are some photos of the day….. Hope you enjoy …. and as always, thanks for viewing !
We would love any comments !
Here are some previous comments……..
Bonnie Hammond (May 11th 2017) : I can’t tell you both enough how special you are. You both are caring, loving and amazing men. I am so proud of you both. Thank you both for all you do and continue to do. God Bless you both.
Pam and Chuck Gruber in WVA (May 11th 2017) : This story has made our day !!!!
What wonderful, selfless service you ALL provide . Our heartfelt thanks to each of you !!!
(It was sent to us by Bob Helfferich’s brother Bill …..who is married to Chuck’s sister)
Ruthie and Ken Hartman (May 11th 2017) : So Thankful for the Both of You & All that you do to help All the Dear People
who have Difficult Medical Problems. You are indeed ” Angels.”
Enjoy seeing the beautiful pictures of the Country side . Everything seems
so Orderly when looking down from above.
Blessings To You Both.