Pilots Fly Patients to Long-Distance Medical Treatments | VideoJuli McDonald | 3/1/2010
Lifeline Pilots, part of a network known as the Air Care Alliance, gets patients where they need to go to quickly and conveniently.
Lori Steckler could be called a frequent flier, but she`s not darting off to warm beaches or to visit new countries, nor is she traveling for business. Instead, Lori is heading to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for treatment. She and her daughter Allison suffer from Crohn`s disease, and the severity of their illness brings them to Rochester at least every other month. The hospital is 500 miles away and it takes 8 to 10 hours to drive there.
"Every time I think of going to the doctor I just dread it. Not only am I sick from the tests the doctors give me, I get so sick from not being able to eat. I have so much abdominal pain from just sitting there," said Steckler.
Lifeline Pilots is a volunteer organization with a mission to serve people just like Lori and Allison. The group includes private pilots from all over the country.
"Every pilot`s looking for an excuse to fly," said Lifeline pilot Jonathan Fuller. "You can go out and just fly in circles which is purposeless, or you could use your flying for some worthwhile purpose. My ulterior motive is to serve the community with this activity."
Pilots take patients to treatment, family members to their sick loved ones, and even medical workers to disaster relief.
"It`s a good feeling to know there are such nice and kind people out there who are willing to first give up their time, their fuel, their airplane. I can`t believe people are that kind to do that for people they don`t even know," said Steckler.
Steckler`s medication costs more than $3,000 a month, and driving herself to Minnesota means filling the gas tank several times and paying for a hotel.
"I`m so happy there`s something like that out there for us. It saves us," said Steckler.
The Lifeline team has grown from 40 pilots in 198,1 to more than 500 today. For more information, visit their Web site at lifelinepilots.org.