PHOTO CREDIT: ANGEL FLIGHT WEST
April 10, 2020
Colorado pilots are volunteering their time and aircraft to deliver critical medical supplies to hospitals across the state that are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. These missions have been coordinated by Angel Flight West, a charitable aviation organization that arranges free transportation for people who need to travel for non-emergency medical appointments.
Angel Flight West recently completed a number of COVID-19 response missions, including flights to deliver hand sanitizer, a ventilator and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals.
“We’re very lucky in Colorado – we have a cohesive and broad group of aviation associations that volunteer to serve our state,” said David Ulane, AAE, aeronautics director for the state’s Division of Aeronautics, which supports Colorado’s 74 public-use airports. Ulane emphasized the importance of the state’s role in supporting small airports not funded by federal programs.
“It’s critical we keep these airports safe and open when they’re needed in times like this,” he explained. “Whether the mission is wildfire containment, air ambulance operations or response to other crises, it’s important to support general aviation (GA) airports so they can handle the traffic to help in emergencies.”
For example, the ventilator delivered most recently was picked up at Centennial Airport in Denver and dropped off at Rangely Airport. Rangely, CO, an almost five-hour drive from Centennial Airport, is closer to the Utah border than it is to any major Colorado city. In fact, more than 40% of Colorado hospitals are located in rural areas.
“Some people don’t realize how remote parts of Colorado and other Western states really are,” said Kristi Ivey, NBAA’s northern mountain regional representative. “It can be difficult for hospitals in these areas – which are usually very small and often already facing staffing and resource challenges – to receive critical supplies quickly. That’s why volunteer groups like Angel Flight West are so important to crisis management.”
Almost 2,000 pilots across Colorado and 11 other Western states volunteer their services through Angel Flight West.