No. However, if you do not own your own aircraft, we do ask that you have ready access to one. In addition, there are minimum requirements of 12 hours flown in the last 90 days with at least 500 hours experience in that specific plane. Flights are coordinated as far in advance as possible, but there are many steps in the process, and last minute changes due to lack of aircraft availability could result in a flight being cancelled. Additionally, our flight coordinators look at weight and balance issues when contacting pilots for a specific flight. If the type of rental aircraft could vary, this might make it more difficult to determine whether you could accept the flight.
Mercy Medical Angels pilots volunteer their time, the aircraft, fuel, and any other costs connected to the flight. These expenses cannot be charged to or shared by the passenger(s) and are not funded in any way by Mercy Medical Angels. Pilots flying flights should ask the FBO about fuel discounts, as many offer this in support of the Mercy Medical Angels flight. Also, we have agreements with some of the major airports to waive landing fees for an Mercy Medical Angels flight.
Yes. Mercy Medical Angels is listed as a charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service, meeting the requirements of Section 501(c)(3). Contributions, including the costs of flying flights, are therefore deductible. Pilots can deduct direct, out-of-pocket expenses. If overnight lodging is required, that expense, along with meals, is also deductible. Accurate records must be maintained, including receipts, hours flown, destination, etc. For complete information regarding deductible items and documentation, pilots should consult a tax professional.
Mercy Medical Angels provides liability release forms to pilots prior to each flight. Prior to boarding the plane, passengers are to sign these forms and the pilot then mails them to the MMA office. (Pilots typically leave the forms at the FBO for mailing.) Therefore, the liability for an Mercy Medical Angels flight is no different than any other Part 91 flight involving passengers. Also, normal aircraft liability insurance will cover these flights since they are non-commercial. Mercy Medical Angels encourages, but does not require pilots to fly with a co-pilot.
Illnesses vary. Some patients have life threatening diseases, such as cancer or heart disease. Others have illnesses that require specialized treatment at distant locations due to the fact there may only be several specialists in the world who can help. Illnesses are non-communicable (cancer, heart disease, brain tumor, etc.). However, occasionally this is not the case. Mercy Medical Angels pilots are always made aware of the patient’s condition and a medical release from the passenger’s doctor is obtained during the screening process. It is up to the pilot to then determine whether he/she is comfortable accepting the flight.
Mercy Medical Angels requires patients who qualify for our assistance to be ambulatory, able to sit upright for the duration of the flight, and in need of very little assistance. In cases where more attention is needed, patients make arrangements to be accompanied by an attendant. If the patient is a child, we require an adult guardian to be present as well.
Rarely do passengers require oxygen, but in the case of those who do, personal oxygen bottles are not allowed unless the bottle carries a DOT certification for use aboard an aircraft. Some FBOs have oxygen available, and pilots with an approved oxygen system onboard the aircraft may, if they choose, make it available for patients. However, permission from the patient’s physician must be obtained before either a rented or onboard system can be used.
The process begins with a phone call to Mercy Medical Angels’ toll free voice mail system or the office’s direct number. This call could come from a potential passenger directly, from one of the many medical facilities or social workers with whom Mercy Medical Angels maintains relationships, or from foundations such as the American Heart Association. A team of professionals, both volunteer and staff, then arrange the flight.
A Flight Screener initially handles the call, making certain the passenger qualifies for Mercy Medical Angels participation as someone who is in financial need, has a legitimate need for air transportation, and is able to fly in a general aviation airplane. The screener then passes the information along to a Flight Coordinator or the Flight Director who locates an available pilot. All pertinent information is given to the pilot, who then handles departure and travel arrangements with the passenger(s).
Mercy Medical Angels does not assume the responsibility of arranging ground transportation for passengers.
Because our pilots are volunteering their time and money, Mercy Medical Angels attempts to coordinate flights so that no one pilot must fly more than 300 miles. This is accomplished by “linking” with pilots from other Mercy Medical Angels regions. However, pilots wishing to fly further distances have the option of requesting longer flights, thus eliminating one or more of the links.
We attempt to fill flights several days ahead, so all parties can make appropriate plans. However, there are times when a flight may pop up with only a day’s notice. If we can find an available pilot “at the last minute” we will accept the request.
Absolutely. We understand schedules mean a pilot may not be available for a particular mission. Calls are rotated among pilots to give as many as possible a chance to fly. By tracking the date of the last flight for each pilot we can see who hasn’t had an opportunity to fly in a while, and those pilots are typically contacted first when a flight is not claimed via the group e-mail notifications.
Most flights are accomplished with single engine, four-six seat aircraft; however, we also have pilots who fly twin engine and turbo-prop planes. To complete a typical Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic flight, the plane does not have to be large or fast, nor does it need to be pressurized.
To the extent necessary to complete their flights, volunteer pilots for any Air Charity Network member may identify themselves to aviation officials and disaster relief agencies using the call sign “ANGEL FLIGHT” when flying flights into or out of any and all of the 50 states.